Politics /

Civic Values Like Patriotism, Religion In Steep Decline, New Data Shows

The drop in importance of civic values is correlated with a decline in civics classes being taught in U.S. schools

Civic values that once defined America, including patriotism, religious faith, and having children, are now in steep decline, according to a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll.

According to the survey, just 38 percent of respondents said patriotism was very important to them, down from 70 percent in 1998, when WSJ first began the poll.

Only 39 percent of respondents say religion is very important to them, down from 62 percent in 1998. The number of Americans who believe that having children is very important plummeted from 59 percent in 1998 to just 30 percent today. Those who say community involvement is very important has fallen from 62 percent to just 27 percent.

“These differences are so dramatic, it paints a new and surprising portrait of a changing America,” Bill McInturff, a pollster who works with WSJ and NBC News, told WSJ. “Perhaps the toll of our political division, Covid and the lowest economic confidence in decades is having a startling effect on our core values.’’

The polling data shows that younger Americans are far less patriotic than older Americans, with just 23 percent of adults under 30 saying patriotism is “very important” to them, compared to 59 percent of adults 65 or older.

Religion is also less important to young people, with 31 percent of younger respondents saying it is “very important” to them, compared to 55 percent among seniors.

A declining sense of American exceptionalism was evident in the polls, with just 21 percent saying America stands above all other countries in the world, while 27 percent say other countries are better — up from 19 percent in 2016.

The WSJ also says the data shows the country is “sharply divided by political party” over issues such as affirmative action and gender pronouns.

Kevin Williams, a commercial and residential painter in Bend, Oregon, told WSJ he believes the decline in patriotism and civic values aligns with a sense of entitlement as people focus on their racial and cultural backgrounds instead of what Americans have in common.

The decline in patriotism also positively correlates with the decline in U.S. schools teaching civics classes.

In 2018, only 10 U.S. schools required a yearlong course in U.S. government or civics, while 31 states required just a half-year, and 10 states had no civics requirement at all.

Last year, fewer than half of all Americans could name all three branches of government, while a quarter of Americans could not name a single branch.

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