Portraits of American Life Study
Hosted by The ARDA
The PALS seeks to understand the impact of religion in everyday life, and ultimately the connections between religious change and other forms of change among diverse individuals and families over the course of their lives.

Religious Guidance

To determine how much Americans seek guidance from religious sources, they were asked the following questions:

"When dealing with major problems in your life during the last three years, to what extent did you . . ."

 A Great DealSomeNot At All
Decide what to do on your own?50%44%3%
Look to God or a larger spiritual force?42%50%7%
Consider passages from religious text?24%44%29%
Consider church teachings or talk to relig leader?17%43%37%
Talk to people in your congregation?16%56%26%

It is important to note that persons responded to each question separately so they could reply “A Great Deal” to all of them or none or some combination.

A large portion of the population faced issues on their own or by looking to God. Fewer people turned to external religious sources, such as scripture, a church pastor or people from their own congregation for direction and advice. COMMENT.

One out of five reported both looking to God or a larger spiritual force and deciding what to do on their own “A Great Deal” when dealing with major problems.

There is a strong relationship between looking to God and considering other religious sources for guidance when dealing with major problems. If a person looks to God or a larger spiritual force for strength, support, and guidance, they are very likely to also consider their religious text, church teachings, talking to a religious leader or talking to people in their congregation.

There is no relationship between trying to make sense of major problems on one’s own and turning to other religious sources such as God, religious text, clergy, or fellow congregation members. While some people address problems on their own and sometimes turn to other religious sources for guidance, there was no pattern.

Give us your feedback!

Through out these sections, we invite you to enter the discussion about these findings and what their implications may be. Click on the COMMENT link to send your thoughts to pals@rice.edu. Where appropriate we will include comments for others to read and discuss. Names of contributors will not be posted, but, if you like, include your religious tradition.

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