Editor's note: The following is the content of an email sent out by the Heritage Foundation.
On the National Day of Prayer, Religious Practice Still Strong
Americans will gather at thousands of locations across the country today with humble petitions for guidance, safety, and peace. The National Day of Prayer is an annual reminder of the important role religious faith plays in American society, and it exemplifies the benefits of religious liberty as the foundation for civic freedoms. Despite recent predictions to the contrary, religious practice is alive and well among American adults.
According to data posted at the new FamilyFacts.org , over 60 percent of adults firmly believe that God exists, while almost nine in 10 believe in some higher power. Many Americans act on that faith in personal and public ways. Nearly three in five adults say they pray daily , and almost 40 percent of Americans attend religious services at least once a week. Religious faith and practice can have a deeply positive effect on civil society by protecting against a host of social hindrances threatening communities.
For instance, frequent religious practice has been associated with strong families, well-adjusted adolescents, and even better health. Families that regularly practice their religion tend to have better marital stability, fewer instances of domestic violence, and greater conflict resolution . Likewise, teens who hold religious beliefs are less likely to use drugs and alcohol or experience teen pregnancy. Individuals who regularly practice their faith are also less likely to die from cancer and tend to have lower stress levels than people who do not frequent religious institutions.
Given the profound effects of American religious faith on civil society, every effort should be made to protect and encourage citizens' religious freedom. As Heritage Senior Research Fellow Chuck Donovan explains, a presidential proclamation of the National Day of Prayer is an important recognition of the value and necessity of religious liberty:
“Time and again, presidents remind us of both the importance of our heritage of religious liberty and the value of religion itself. They have recognized and encouraged the nation, in times of war and peace, of feast and famine, to treasure not freedom from religion but freedom of and for religion.”