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Religion and patriotism much less important to young people, poll finds



John Burger - published on 08/29/19 - updated on 08/29/19

50% of respondents cited religion as very important to them, down 12 percentage points.

Today’s younger generations rate religion, patriotism and having kids as less important than did young people two decades ago, a new survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News finds.

“When the Journal/NBC News survey asked Americans 21 years ago to say which values were most important to them, strong majorities picked the principles of hard work, patriotism, commitment to religion and the goal of having children,” according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Aside from hard work, which remains a top value, priorities have clearly shifted:

Some 61% in the new survey cited patriotism as very important to them, down 9 percentage points from 1998, while 50% cited religion, down 12 points. Some 43% placed a high value on having children, down 16 points from 1998.

As might be expected, older folks—those 55 and older—said patriotism was very important (nearly 80%), compared with 42% of those ages 18-38, the millennial generation and older members of “Generation Z.”

“Two-thirds of the older group cited religion as very important, compared with fewer than one-third of the younger group,” the Journal said.

“There’s an emerging America where issues like children, religion and patriotism are far less important. And in America, it’s the emerging generation that calls the shots about where the country is headed,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt.

Not all issues are points of contention, however, the survey found. Large majorities rated tolerance for others as a very important personal value, for example.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • 63% of people who said they would vote in a Democratic primary said that the country becoming more diverse and tolerant of different lifestyles and cultures has been a step forward. But 16% of Republican primary voters said these changes had been a step forward for the country.
  • On race relations, half of Republicans say race relations are good—a similar result to six years ago—while only 21% of Democrats say so. Six years ago, slightly more than half of Democrats agreed with that statement.

“In the new survey, only 19% of African-Americans said race relations were fairly or very good, the lowest level in Journal/NBC News polling over more than two decades,” the newspaper said.

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