Friday, May 30, 2008

How Many Americans Actually Help?

It seems that 72 percent of Americans say their lives have meaning and purpose because of faith. But there’s a gap between what we believe and how we act.

That’s the finding of a new Gallup Poll that was conducted with The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society. It examined “The Spiritual State of the Union.” To do this, it looked at Inner Commitment—people’s connection with God or a higher power — and Outer Commitment — how they live out their commitment through service to society.

Nearly 80 percent of people agreed with the statement “the overall health of the nation depends a great deal on the spiritual health of the nation.” And almost as many people agreed “life has meaning and purpose because of faith.” Sixty percent agreed with the idea that all people, regardless of race, creed, or wealth, are connected by a higher power and therefore we should accept everybody.

More than a third of Americans prefer to think of themselves as spiritual, rather than religious. And they defined spirituality in several ways, including belief in God or a higher power, or just seeking to be a good person and reach their full human potential.

But here’s the problem: Only 44 percent agreed with this statement: “I’m involved and try to help the lives of the poor and suffering.” Could it be that we’re not putting our money where our mouth is? Something to think about.

[John Tesh]

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