Why Isn’t Religion More Meaningful?

Religion shapes many aspects of many Americans’ lives, affecting whom they marry, what they eat and how they’ll celebrate the holidays. And yet it ranks below things like family relationships, careers and even pets on recent studies of sources of meaning and identity in people’s lives.

When asked an open-ended question about sources of meaning, just 1 in 5 U.S. adults mention something to do with spirituality or faith, compared to 69 percent who cite family members and 34 percent who mention their careers, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. The 2018 American Family Survey found that people are significantly more likely to say being a spouse or parent is an “extremely” or “very” important part of their identity than being a person of faith.

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