Two-thirds of Americans say calls to prayer duringedyg times of national tragedy are ‘helpful’: poll
By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter | January 31, 2023
A new poll reveals that the overwhelming majority of Americans see public calls for prayer in a time of tragedy as a force for good, with such a belief extending across all demographic subgroups.
Summit Ministries, in conjunction with McLaughlin & Associates, conducted an online poll released to the public Tuesday of 1,000 likely voters from Jan. 19-23, asking them to weigh in on the power of prayer.
The poll came a few weeks after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s collapse after suffering cardiac arrest during a Jan. 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals and his subsequent recovery. Hamlin’s recovery followed an outpouring of support from the American public, which included the offering of prayers on his behalf.
With a sampling error margin of 3.1 percentage points, the poll found that two-thirds of respondents (67%) told pollsters that they saw public calls for prayer after a national tragedy as “helpful.”
On the other hand, nearly 20% of those surveyed characterized public calls for prayer amid a national tragedy as “pointless.” The remaining 13% either had no opinion or refused to answer the question.
Belief in the power of prayer cut across all demographic subgroups, with most respondents of all races, age groups, genders, marital statuses, political ideologies and regions classifying it as “helpful.”
The share of respondents with favorable opinions of public calls to prayer in times of tragedy descended with each generation, with 77% of Americans over the age of 65 believing in the power of prayer, followed by 70% of those aged 56-65, 68% of those between the ages of 41 and 55 and 62% of respondents aged 30-40.
Americans between the ages of 18-29 were the group least likely to view public calls for prayer as effective. Fifty-five percent of respondents under 30 identified calls for prayer as “helpful,” while 27% dismissed them as “pointless.”
Liberals had a higher share of respondents who viewed public calls to prayer as “pointless” (30%).
“Some people say there’s not really a generational difference, but there is,” Summit Ministries President Jeff Myers, whose ministry seeks to provide resources to ground Christians in a biblical worldview, said in a statement. “Young adults are more likely to say that they have no religious preference and this poll seems to reflect that.”
Myers expressed gratitude that “still, more than half of young Americans, the most skeptical generation, believe that public calls to prayer are effective.”
“In times of crisis, Americans are still likely to come together even in spite of their partisan differences,” he added. “The fact that people want to pray together, I think, is one of those … increasingly rare moments of unity. If it happens around prayer, all the better.”
The poll illustrated a degree of consensus, with majorities of conservatives (80%), Republicans (73%), Democrats (65%), independents (62%) and liberals (59%) seeing calls to prayer as helpful.
Majorities of African Americans (73%), southerners (72%), women (71%), residents of the Midwest (70%), married respondents (69%), whites (67%), Hispanics (66%), Americans living in the eastern U.S. (64%), men (63%), single respondents (62%) and residents of the west coast (60%) said the same.
Summit Ministries partners with McLaughlin & Associates for a monthly poll to ask questions related to several topics, such as prayer, biblical values and the rejection of cancel culture.
The nonprofit seeks to “find out where there really is consensus in spite of the key divide that we often see in America.”
“We’re finding that probably 70% of Americans are people with solid values who just want to live their lives,” Myers added. “Thirty percent of Americans want to tell everybody else what to do and they can be nasty about it. Sometimes, the fear of the 30% causes the 70% to be silent, and I’m hoping that our polls show that they don’t need to be, that most people are with them.”
Myers expressed gratitude that the nation rallied around Hamlin and that “a lot of people, especially high-profile NFL athletes, felt comfortable with sharing their faith.”
In his first on-camera comments since his collapse on the field, the 24-year-old Hamlin said Saturday that his collapse “was a direct example of God using me as a vessel to share my passion and my love directly from my heart with the entire world.”
Since his collapse, Hamlin’s charity has raised over $9 million to help provide toys for kids in need.
“Now, I’m able to give it back to kids and communities all across the world who need it the most, and that’s always been my dream, that’s always been what I stood for and what I will continue to stand for,” Hamlin said.