According to a new poll jointly conducted by NBC and The Wall Street Journal, 21 percent of Americans feel that religion is losing importance in their lives.
This, says NBC, is the highest percentage since the poll began asking about faith's focus in 1997. In 1999, the number was 16 percent, and in 1997, it was 14 percent. According to the poll, those who gave religion less of a priority were more likely to be "men, have an income over $75,000, to live in the Northeast or West and to be under the age of 35."
But on the flipside of this coin, 13 percent of those polled say that religion is the most important aspect of their lives while 41 percent say that it's "very important."
As Christianity and other religions are enjoying a resurgence shown in the entertainment industry and key religious figures, those numbers are sure to rise in the near future. As an example, Pope Francis' first year as pope has been met with a Person of the Year title and his own fan magazine, encouraging more Catholics to commit to their faith than ever.
The NBC/WSJ poll shows that six in ten Catholics believe that Pope Francis has "renewed and strengthened my religious faith and commitment to the Catholic Church." Fifty-five percent of those polled have a positive view of the pope, while only 30 percent said the same about the previous pope, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth, in last year's poll.
But why is this pope so much more popular? Chris Nye of Relevant Magazine addresses this issue: "As young evangelicals have rejected the megachurch and the televangelist and embraced a more rugged, grassroots Christianity, these actions by the pope fit perfectly. He has refused to live in the massive papal quarters in Rome and has chosen to live in the guesthouse, instead. One of his first actions as pope was to cancel his newspaper subscription at his home in Buenos Aires."
In 2012, a WIN-Gallup poll claimed that the world's faith in Catholism has seen one of the steepest drops in recent history, with Vietnam and the traditionally Catholic Ireland leading the charge. The poll also found that, among the 50,000 people surveyed, the number of people who associate with Athieism has grown four percent since 2005 to seven percent.
The film industry may not have heard the news, though, as an onslaught of new Christian-based movies is releasing in 2014. From the inspiring and aptly named God's Not Dead to a star-studded cast in Russell Crowe's Noah, this year may determine whether or not Americans at least want to still be entertained by religious stories.