Research shows that a slight majority of Americans believe religion can solve most of the world’s problems.
According to Gallup, 55 percent of Americans hold that view. Broken down by politics, 71 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats express that opinion. Protestants who attend church weekly are most likely to agree.
Justin Cox, a North Carolina youth minister, told Baptist News Global he hopes faith could tackle “issues surrounding sustainability and the environment” which “are rarely spoken from a pulpit.”
Divine intervention may be key to countering ecological decline given the Trump administration’s systemic dismantling of regulations protecting the environment. But Cox said the conversation belongs in religion, not politics.
“Topics such as global warming and organic farming have been wrongly categorized as being political in nature which has contributed to an apathetic view towards stewardship of creation,” Cox said in an email to BNG. “Instead of co-creating with God in this process, humanity has chased self-preservation and glorification, resulting in the eradication of certain species of plants and animals.”
There was a time when many more in the U.S. were optimistic about the ability of religion to solve important challenges.
“In 1957, a time of greater religious commitment in the United States, 82 percent believed that religion could answer all or most of the day’s problems,” Gallup said.
That’s the year the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, striking fear in the hearts of millions of Americans. The Suez Canal crisis also raged, pitting East versus West and raising the specter of conflagration in the Middle East.
In 2002, 66 percent of adults surveyed said religion could solve most of the world’s problems, Gallup reported.
The wounds of 9-11 were fresh at that time and war was ramping up in Afghanistan. The future seemed terrifying to many.
The all-time low for trust in religion came in 2015 with 51 percent, though “Americans’ views on religion’s relevance in answering problems have since stabilized” in the 53 percent to 55 percent range, the organization said.
Despite the flagging trust in faith, its role could be crucial in ending the human tendency to dismiss different people as “others,” said Scarlette Jasper, Cooperative Baptist field personnel and executive director of Olive Branch Ministries in Somerset, Kentucky.
“I would like to see religion solve the issue of ‘othering,’” Jasper told BNG. “When we don’t see people through God’s eyes, then we are not loving people as God has intended us to love each other.”