Independents = Seculars

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Frequency of Prayer.gifThere’s been a certain amount of chatter over the past few days about this graph, taken from the General Social Survey, showing that the more strongly identified with a political party you are, the more frequently you are likely to pray. This adds a new item to the existing set of correlations between political participation and religious identification.
The 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), conducted by my colleagues Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, shows that the more religious you are, the more likely you are to be registered to vote. It also shows that independents consider themselves less religious than either Republicans or Democrats, and are less likely to believe that God performs miracles or, indeed, exists. Preliminary results from the new ARIS, now just wrapping up, show that half of those without a religion are independents, as opposed to 30 percent Democrats and 12 percent Republicans.
What’s the explanation? Pastordan is on the mark in attributing the correlation to the propensity to be socially involved. People who are involved in one group tend to be involved in others. Of course, you can remain an isolato and pray your heart out. But for most Americans religion is something that if you’re going to do it, you do it with others, at least part of the time. Hermits and anchorites are few and far between in the U.S. of A.