God bless Frank Newport. The Gallup Poll’s editor-in-chief is author of the recently published book, “God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America.” It punctures the myth that the ranks of the nation’s non-religious are growing by leaps and bounds.
The myth has gained currency in the mainstream media, thanks to a dishonest poll published this past fall by the left-leaning Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. By playing fast and loose with polling data, and by employing semantic gymnastics, Pew was able to make the dubious claim that 20 percent of Americans “do not identify with any religion.”
A close inspection of Pew’s poll reveals its bias. A mere 6 percent of those responding to its survey described themselves either as atheist or agnostic. Another 14 percent said they were “religiously unaffiliated.” Pew lumped the 6 percent and the 14 percent together, describing them, collectively, as “nones.” As if they march under the same Godless banner.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
The overwhelming majority of those who are religiously unaffiliated believe in God. A fifth even said they pray every day. The dichotomy is explained by Pew’s deliberately misleading poll methodology, which made no distinction between religious “affiliation” and “denomination.”
The fact is, there are many of us who faithfully attend church each and every Sunday who have no fealty to a particular denomination.
Indeed, my wife and I have been members of Assemblies of God churches for most of our nearly 14 year marriage. But we recently relocated and joined a church that offers the same traditional, conservative Christian message with which we feel comfortable (and even the same praise and worship music we love), but it happens to be Baptist.
Pew would categorize us as “religiously unaffiliated” because we do not identify ourselves as Assemblies of God or Baptist (or any other denomination), but simply as Christ followers.
They would term us “nones,” as if we are of like minds with the God deniers, the atheist and agnostic types who think people like us “superstitious” or otherwise intellectually challenged.
Drawing upon more than a million Gallup interviews, Frank Newport dispels the myths promulgated by Pew’s pollsters; deconstructs the wrongheaded views of the “New Atheists,” as he calls them.
“Religion,” the author argues, persuasively, “is as powerful and influential as it’s ever been in American society.”
And contrary to Pew’s insinuation that religion is receding in relevance to a rapidly growing number of Americans, Newport posits that “religion will be even more important in the years ahead.”
Gallup’s editor in chief did not write his book with Pew in mind. Nor did his publishers release “God is Alive and Well” to follow shortly after Pew’s anti-religion poll generated so many headlines in the mainstream media.
But the timing could not have been better if Newport had planned it. It’s further evidence for those with eyes to see and ears to hear that God remains in control of the order of things.