Facts & Figures

  • Religious Divide Over Abortion
  • Disaffiliation and Loneliness
  • Generational Split on Success

Religious Divide Over Abortion. The Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 50-year-old ruling that legalized the right to abortion in the U.S. But Americans consistently show support for legal abortion in at least some circumstances. A majority (56 percent) of the public says abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Approximately four in 10 (41 percent) say it should be illegal. Notably only one in 10 (11 percent) Americans say abortion should be illegal without any exception.

Views differ significantly across religious traditions, but few religious groups oppose the legal right to an abortion. White evangelical Protestants register the strongest opposition to legal abortion. Seventy-eight percent of White evangelical Protestants say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. Only 20 percent say abortion should be legal. A majority (55 percent) of Hispanic Catholics also believe abortion should be illegal. In contrast, a majority of White Catholics (56 percent), White mainline Protestants (59 percent), and Black Protestants (65 percent) say abortion should be legal. No group more strongly supports the legal right to abortion than religiously unaffiliated Americans—86 percent say it should be legal in at least most cases.

Religious Disaffiliation and Loneliness. The act of leaving religion can be difficult. Americans who leave their childhood religion report more acute feelings of social isolation and disconnection. This is especially true for those who disaffiliate from more conservative faith traditions. Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) former evangelical Protestants report feeling lonely or isolated from those around them all or most of the time. Significantly fewer former mainline Protestants (28 percent) and former Catholics (23 percent) say the same. This may be because leaving a religious community often results in severing important social ties and shredding systems of support. Past research has shown that members of conservative religious traditions often organize more of their social life through their church or place of worship. Given that many if not most of the people they know belong to the same place of worship, it’s not hard to see why leaving religion can result in increased feelings of social isolation and loneliness.

Generational Split on Success. Is the illusion of meritocracy broken? A new study finds generational divides in views about what matters most for success. Older generations are far more likely to say work ethic plays a critical role in achieving success in life, while younger Americans are less likely to see it that way. Close to half of Americans who belong to the Silent Generation say work ethic is the most important factor in being successful. Gen Z and Millennials seem to have a growing disillusionment with the efficacy of hard work alone. Less than a third (30 percent) of Gen Z and 35 percent of Millennials say work ethic is the key to success. Instead, 42 percent of Gen Z and 38 percent of Millennials believe social connections and personal relationships are the most important factor in achieving success. And this shift in perspective isn’t unwarranted. They may be on to something: recent analysis shows that social connections in the office are just as if not more crucial to ladder-climbing than good old-fashioned hard work.