The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement in response to a study from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life which reported that Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to religion.
The Pew study, which surveyed 35,000 adults, estimated that 92 percent of American adults say they believe in God or a “universal spirit.” It states that 74 percent of Americans say they believe in life after death and 63 percent say they believe that Scripture is the Word of God. Another 63 percent say they pray at home and read Scripture with their children, while 60 percent say they send their children to religious education programs.
The study reports that a majority of Americans affiliated with a religious tradition agree there is more than one way to interpret the teachings of their faith. The survey also states that most Americans don't think their religion is the only way to eternal life – even if their faith tradition teaches otherwise.
Commenting on the survey, Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl, who is chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, said, “History testifies that religious faith is very important to Americans.” “At every juncture of our past, Americans have called upon God for guidance, protection, and direction. There is a clear identification with religion in America which, for Catholics, reflects the dedicated efforts of priests, catechists and teachers in our history.”
Father J. Brian Bransfield, a specialist in the USCCB’s Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, said “it is hard to quantify the tremendous thirst for truth among families and people of all ages, as demonstrated by the overwhelming response to the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States. This thirst is sometimes misdirected through the effects of secularism, with its focus on individualism and consumerism.”
Father Bransfield repeated a statement Pope Benedict made before his election to the papacy, “God does not count in large numbers.”
“In the face of any measure, the steady and ongoing response of the Church is an ever renewed commitment to robust catechetical efforts,” Father Bransfield stated.