Religiously active people more likely to engage in civic life, Pew study finds
The Pew study authors say their findings counter the view that religiously active people are less engaged with the secular world. Increased trust of others and optimism about one's impact on the community are cited as factors.
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“They found that churchgoing people are three to four times more civically active than those who do not go to church,” he says.Skip to next paragraph
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However, he points out that this engagement is not necessarily tied to the specific beliefs. “It has more to do with the act of being part of a congregation,” says Prof. Jacobsen, adding that friendships in a religious setting “tend to have a morally super-charged quality to them.”
When people ask you to do something, he says, “you tend to say yes.”
“Civic participation would be a natural result of that push to help your fellow man,” he points out. But he does suggest that the 40 percent figure for those who engage in religious activity might be too low.
“There are many more people who consider themselves either religiously or spiritually engaged but who do not participate in the traditional religious institutional life in America,” he adds.
The high level of digital participation by religiously engaged folks does not surprise media expert Paul Levinson, author of “New New Media.”
“The Internet is an amplifier of all that each of us are in our humanity,” he says via e-mail, adding that if an essential component of anyone or group is their religion, “then they will enjoy and rely upon the Internet as a way of being in touch with others of similar perspectives, and spreading the word to the world at large.”
This report is based on the findings of a survey on Americans’ use of the Internet. According to the site, the study findings are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from Nov. 23 to Dec. 21, 2010, among a sample of 2,303 adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (1,555) and cell phone (748, including 310 without a landline phone).
Staff writer Dan Wood contributed to this report.