Pollster George Gallup Jr. believes that after years of dwindling interest in religious life in this country the United States "may be in an early stage of a profound religious revival." [PARAGRAPH ILLEGIBLE]
Contrary to popules mythology, which has religion and young people as natural enemies, Gallup said, the growth of religious interest "is centered largely among young adults, where the sharpest gains are recorded, not only in church attendance and membership, but also in the proportion saying religion plays an important role in their lives."
He attributed the "current explosion in volunteerism" in this country to religious motivation. "One out of every four people, 14 years of age and older volunteers time to some non-profit organization," he siad, with over 50 per cent of this time going to churches and synagogues.
Gallup acknowledged that his findings present some paradoxes. "Religion is increasing its influence on society, but morality is losing its influence," he said, adding, "The Secular world would seem to offer abundant evidence that religion is not greatly affecting our lives."
He said that "while Americans may be impressively religious in terms of outward manifestations, survey evidence indicates a wide gap between belief and practice." There also exists for many church and synagogue members "a shocking lack of knowledge" of doctrine and beliefs, he said.
Nevertheless, said Gallup, "the new evidence of spiritual intensity and the desire for a deeper religious commitment suggests that Americans may now be entering a period of religious adolescence" that, with proper leadership, could lead to maturity.
Gallup reiterated his earlier assertions of the growing strength of the evangelical movement. "It is probably safe to assume that evangelicals will continue to energize religion in America during the years ahead," he said.
With President Carter strongly identified with the evangelicals, Gallup said, "their influence will be particularly strongly felt because their ranks include a high proportion of persons with a college background and because a disproportionately large number of evangelicals are actively engaged in the social service and charitable activities."