NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 25, 1996

Religion has a positive impact on society, according to researchers. Surveys of Americans' religious practices and beliefs indicate:

  • Those who attend religious services regularly are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to express satisfaction in marriage.
  • Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
  • Regular church attendance is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape poverty, drugs, crime, welfare dependency and unwed pregnancy.

Further, states with more religious populations tend to have fewer homicides and suicides.

According to surveys, Americans pray even more than they attend church, with 94 percent of blacks, 91 percent of women, 87 percent of whites and 85 percent of men regarding themselves as people who pray regularly, with 78 percent of Americans praying at least once a week and 57 percent praying daily.

Even among the 13 percent who call themselves agnostics or atheists, some 20 percent pray daily.

Source: Patrick F. Fagan and William H.G. FitzGerald, "Why Religion Matters: Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability," Backgrounder No. 1064, January 25, 1996, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002, (202) 546-4400.


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