Mixing Religious Teachings

Religion, man prays graphic over Holy book dating from mid-17th century AP / CBS

Americans say religion plays an important role in their lives, and for many of them, finding a spiritual experience in whatever way they can is more important than adhering to the specific teachings and traditions of a faith.

Forty-five percent of Americans say the most important part of religion is following the teachings and traditions of their faith as closely as they can. But 38 percent say the search for spirituality – no matter where that takes them – is more important than sticking to those traditions.


MOST IMPORTANT PART OF RELIGION FOR YOU?

Following traditions and teachings closely 45%
Finding a spiritual experience
38%
Religion not important
10%


While most Americans – 52 percent - stay within the practices of one single religion as they observe a faith, 36 percent say they have combined the teachings or philosophies from more than one religion into their own observances.


EVER BRING TEACHINGS OR PHILOSOPHIES FROM MORE THAN ONE RELIGION INTO YOUR OWN PRACTICES?

Yes
36%
No
52%
Religion not important
10%


People who say religion is at least somewhat important to them, but who do not attend religious services more than once or twice a month, are the most likely to say they combine practices; almost half of them do. People who attend services at least weekly are the least likely to combine practices; only about one in four do. Catholics are slightly more likely than Protestants to say they do, though majorities of both do not.

Some Americans are introduced to different religious ideas and practices through people they know. Twenty-three percent of all Americans bring into their own religious observances different philosophies or practices that they first learned about from friends or family of other religions.

Just over one-third of Americans are familiar with the teachings of eastern philosophies and religions such as Taoism or Buddhism. Seven percent are very familiar with these and 28 percent are somewhat familiar. 64% are unfamiliar with them.

Overall, Americans say religion is important in their daily lives; for two-thirds, it is extremely or very important.


HOW IMPORTANT IS RELIGION IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?

Extremely important
28%
Very important
36%
Somewhat important
26%
Not at all important
10%


For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1150 adults, interviewed by telephone May 20-24, 2005. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on all adults. Error for subgroups is higher.

  • Joel Roberts

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