Poverty, disease and broken hearts -- can religion be the answer to these and other problems in today's world?
According to a recent Gallup poll, 57% of Americans believe that religion can solve all or most of today's problems. While still a majority belief, the number is down from 82% who believed this in the 1950s, while the number of Americans who believe religion is old fashioned and out of date has grown to 30% from less than 10%.
As the percentages of Americans who believe religion can answer today's problems and those who believe religion to be outdated have slowly approached one another, faith has remained an important part of life for roughly half of Americans. Among those who say religion is "very important" in their lives, the belief in its ability to solve modern issues is significantly greater.
More than 80% of Americans who attend church weekly believe religion can answer today's problems, dropping to 68% with weekly and monthly attendance. Even among Americans who have no religious identification whatsoever, 21% believe religion can still help solve all or most of today's problems.
Demographics also play a role in determining a person's faith in the ability of religion to bring relief from world problems. As of 2011, 91% of Americans believed in God, according to a Gallup poll. Liberals demonstrated somewhat less faith than conservatives -- 85% compared to 98%. But when it comes to believing religion might help solve world issues, liberals are much less optimistic.
Meanwhile, countless religious and faith-based groups around the world are working to prove that religion can be a force for positive change in the world. These organizations use faith as a tool for spreading messages of compassion and care, and they have steadily increased in their numbers over the years -- even as the belief in religion's ability to solve today's issues has decreased.