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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pew Poll: People of faith are happy, family-oriented, giving

Americans who pray daily and attend church weekly "are more engaged with their extended families, more likely to volunteer, more involved in their communities and generally happier with the way things are going in their lives," a Pew Research Foundation poll has found. The study also "shows a clear link between what people see as essential to their faith and their self-reported day-to-day behavior."
For example, Pew found,
"Among Christians, believing in God tops the list, with fully 86% saying belief in God is 'essential' to their Christian identity. In addition, roughly seven-in-ten Christians say being grateful for what they have (71%), forgiving those who have wronged them (69%) and always being honest (67%) are essential to being Christian." 
The poll provides solid evidence that the vast majority of Christians diligently seek to live out their faith consistently, walking the talk. And that a consistent faith and lifestyle correlates positively with a richer, more satisfying and loving life.
The results of Christian faith extend beyond personal thriving and satisfaction, the survey found:
"For example, nearly half of highly religious Americans – defined as those who say they pray every day and attend religious services each week – gather with extended family at least once or twice a month.
"By comparison, just three-in-ten Americans who are less religious gather as frequently with their extended families.
"Roughly two-thirds of highly religious adults (65%) say they have donated money, time or goods to help the poor in the past week, compared with 41% who are less religious."
And that's just volunteering to help the poor. Add to that number those who volunteer to tutor or coach youth, counsel pregnant couples, teach classes, assist the elderly, provide childcare and give of their time, money and talents in healthcare, educational, cultural and social services programs.
One of America's early analysts, Alexis de Toqueville, observed that "I am certain that they hold
Alexis de Toqueville
[faith] to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions."1
Toqueville also noted how Americans band together in voluntary associations to address social concerns:
"In no country in the world has the principle of association been more successfully used, or more unsparingly applied to a multitude of different objects, than in America. [A] vast number of other [associations] are formed and maintained by the agency of private individuals."2
Many of those American associations to help the poor, educate, heal, inspire and protect have Christian roots. Like de Tocqueville, any honest student of history recognizes that the moral fabric and the practical progress of our nation have been woven with thousands of threads of people of faith who have volunteered their time, talents and resources to help others.
So in a day when much news related to faith is discouraging and disturbing, we can rejoice in this reminder that many of God's people are remaining faithful not only in belief, but also in action.
1. de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America - Volume 1 (p. 253). Kindle Edition.
2. Ibid., p. 151.

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