Survey Gives Insight Into Current American Values

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A survey released today by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that most Americans agree health care and terrorism are political issues that need immediate attention.

Although those were top concerns, followed by climate change, none of the top three critical issues for Democrats overlap with the top three critical issues for Republicans.

Democrats reported health care (77 percent), climate change (72 percent) and foreign interference in political elections (63 percent) as their top issues. Republicans, meanwhile, said their top concerns were terrorism (63 percent), immigration (60 percent) and crime (50 percent).

The American Values Survey showed that religiously unaffiliated and non-Christian religious groups closely resemble Democrats in that they are likely to regard climate change and foreign interference in presidential elections as part of their top three critical issues. Black Protestants are the only religious group to prioritize crime and fairness of presidential elections as critical issues, while Hispanic Protestants are the only group to say the same about jobs and unemployment.

Another key finding of the 25,000-person survey was that 2 in 3 Americans believe the country is “on the wrong track” and 57 percent of Americans say President Donald Trump’s behavior has encouraged White Supremacist Groups.

When asked which term described them well 70 percent said “spiritual,” 68 percent said “traditional,” 67 percent said “progressive,” 65 percent said “America first” and another 65 percent said “humanist.”

According to the report, “The vast majority of Americans say their religiosity has not changed since 2016. Only 9 percent report becoming more religious, and 5 percent report becoming less religious. Within most religious groups, respondents are similarly likely to say that since 2016 they have become either more or less religious since 2016. However, white evangelical Protestants are more likely to say they have become more religious than less; and the religiously unaffiliated are more likely to say they have become less religious than more.”

The full study, which include information on policy issues, the 2020 election and views on impeachment, can be found online.

Tracy Simmons

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Journalism Instructor at Washington State University.

She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and for the Religion News Service.

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