Nearly Half of Voters Say There Is Too Little Focus on Religion During Christmas: Poll

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
December 25, 2019Updated: December 25, 2019

Nearly half of voters say the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday are not receiving as much attention as in the past, according to a recent poll.

Polling data from the Hill-HarrisX survey found that 46 percent of respondents say that there is too little emphasis on Christmas as a religious holiday while 18 percent say there is too much emphasis. Meanwhile, 36 percent of voters say there is a right amount of balance between the religious and other aspects of the holiday.

This comes at a time where earlier polling data from this year found the number of people who identify as Christian was facing a rapid decline across the country. The Pew Reseach Center found that the number of Americans who identify as Christian fell 12 percentage points over the past decade, while the number of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” is at 26 percent, up 9 percentage points from 2009.

The Hill-HarrisX survey data, which was released on Dec. 20, was also broken down along party lines. It found that a majority of Republicans, 57 percent, said there was too little emphasis on religion during Christmas, while 45 percent Democrats and 37 percent Independents said the same.

Meanwhile, it also found that a majority of voters aged 50 and over said there was too little emphasis on religion during Christmas, while only 29 percent of voters age 18 to 34 and 39 percent of voters aged 35 to 49 said the same.

The survey was conducted with 1,000 respondents between Dec. 13 and 14. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 79 percent of Americans identify with a religion, with a majority identifying as Christian, while about 21 percent identify as not having a formal religious identity or did not give a response.

Americans See Religion as a Force for Good

Despite the waning influence on society, a majority of Americans say that they see religion as a force for good. A poll of the Pew Research Center in November found that 55 percent of Americans say that churches and religious organizations do more good than harm in U.S. society as opposed to 20 percent who say the opposite.

Meanwhile, 53 percent of Americans say religious organizations strengthen morality and 50 percent say it brings people together. This is compared to 12 percent of people who say it weakens morality and 21 percent who say it pushes people apart. It also found that 78 percent of Americans say religion is losing influence in American life, with 42 percent of people saying that this is a bad thing.

A study called the Religious Freedom Index, released by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in November also found that Americans still have a favorable view of religion. One of the study’s salient findings was that 87 percent of Americans support the freedom for individuals to practice their religion in their daily life without facing discrimination or harm from others.

It also found that 70 percent of people support freedom of religious groups or organizations to make their own decisions on hiring and leadership without government interference, and 74 percent of Americans say that individuals should be free to believe marriage is a union between and man and a woman without facing discrimination from the government.

The Becket Fund is a non-profit organization and law firm defending religious rights. The study began this year and surveyed 1,000 American adults across the country online between mid-September and mid-October.

President Donald Trump called on Americans to “foster a culture of deeper understanding and respect” while appealing for unity in his Christmas message on Dec. 25.

“During this joyous time of year, we join a grateful Nation in thanking God for His abundant blessings and boundless love,” he said in the message.

“While the challenges that face our country are great, the bonds that unite us as Americans are much stronger. Together, we must strive to foster a culture of deeper understanding and respect—traits that exemplify the teachings of Christ.”

The president also reminded Americans to cherish the religious freedoms they enjoy and paid tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces.