Only 16 Percent of Americans Get Moral Guidance from Political Leaders: Poll

Only 16 Percent of Americans Get Moral Guidance from Political Leaders: Poll

A majority of Americans say they receive moral guidance from family, friends or religious teachings, but less than 20 percent say they get it from political leaders or social media influencers, according to a new survey.

The Deseret News/Marist Poll found that 79 percent of Americans say their source for moral guidance is their family, while solid majorities say their source is the rule of law (66 percent), friends (65 percent), religious teachings (63 percent) or a religious leader (57 percent). (Respondents could choose more than one selection.)

Far fewer say their source for moral guidance is political leaders (16 percent), their favorite social media influencer (12 percent), Oprah Winfrey (10 percent) or a favorite athlete (10 percent).

The data, released Monday, was the second part of the Deseret News’ Faith in America survey and examined several faith-centric topics. For example, the poll found that 86 percent of Americans say they’ve prayed for a family member, while 70 percent have prayed for a work colleague. But only 43 percent have prayed for a political leader and 37 percent for their business or company.

Americans are split on whether a person’s “religious beliefs and values” should influence their business decisions, with 47 percent saying it should and 51 percent saying it should not. Christians (58 percent) and those who practice a religion (69 percent) are more likely to say one’s religious beliefs should have an influence.

Among the poll’s other findings:

  • Nearly six in 10 Christians (57 percent) say they do not factor their faith into their business decisions.
  • 85 percent of Americans say they are “comfortable with the people with whom they work knowing their personal religious beliefs,” according to a news release. This includes 87 percent of Christians and 90 percent of those who practice a religion who share this belief.
  • 61 percent of Americans say religion plays no role in where they work. A small minority (15 percent) say it plays a major role, while 22 percent say it plays a minor role.

“Our overall survey looks at how Americans of different backgrounds do or do not incorporate religion and faith into key aspects of their personal and professional lives, and when it comes to faith and business, the survey indicates Americans are largely comfortable with those they work with knowing their personal religious beliefs,” said Hal Boyd, executive editor of the Deseret National. “However, a majority feel one’s religious beliefs should not influence their business decisions, and likewise, a majority of Americans, as well as Christians, report that their religion does not play a role in where they choose to work or the businesses where they shop.”

The survey was conducted from Jan. 19 to 26 among 1,653 U.S. adults.


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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.