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Americans would rather talk politics than religion if forced to commit a social faux pas

Posted August 17

Six in 10 Americans are more comfortable talking about politics than spiritual views, according to LifeWay Research. (Deseret Photo)

Many people prefer to avoid discussing their religious or political beliefs in polite company. But if forced to choose between the two topics, nearly 6 in 10 U.S. adults (59 percent) would feel more comfortable steering the conversation toward politics, according to a new LifeWay Research survey.

Only 1 in 5 Americans wish they had more opportunities to discuss their spirituality, even though just 44 percent had three or more spiritual conversations in the last month, the survey reported.

The findings echo recent Pew Research Center data on the lack of appeal of faith-related conversations. Fewer than half of U.S. adults talk to their family (46 percent) or people outside their family (33 percent) about religion at least once or twice a month.

"I think people are talking themselves out of sharing their faith as the culture is shifting around them," noted Ed Stetzer, former executive director of LifeWay Research, in a recent article about Pew's research.

Resistance to religious conversation is unfortunate, because chatting about faith is one way to increase understanding among diverse groups, added Diane Moore, director of Harvard Divinity School's Religious Literacy Project.

"It's part of faith itself to be able to articulate our beliefs in an atmosphere where we can be heard," she said.

Additionally, relationship experts have argued that bringing up religious beliefs on a first date can be a valuable way to weed out keepers from duds.

"If religion is a big part of your life and you are passionate about it and want your partner to share that with you, you should talk about it," wrote Ravid Yosef for eHarmony's advice blog.

LifeWay Research's new survey did find Americans willing to learn from others in spiritual discussions.

"About half (52 percent) believe they have as much to find out as they do to share during a spiritual conversation. A quarter (26 percent) say they have more to find out," LifeWay Research reported.

Overall, the survey presented Americans as open to spiritual discussions, even if they may hesitate to start one themselves.

"If your friends are tired of arguing about politics on Facebook, (try) asking them about God," said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, in the survey press release.

Email: kdallas@deseretnews.com Twitter: @kelsey_dallas

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