Only 5% of Democrats and less than half of Republicans believe the “decline in religious faith and church attendance” is a top-three issue facing families in the United States, a new survey has found.
The 2020 American Family Survey was released Tuesday, a poll of 3,000 Americans conducted by YouGov and sponsored by Deseret News and Brigham Young University in Utah, institutions associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The sixth annual survey was done between July 3 and July 14 and has an error margin of plus or minus 1.9 percentage points.
Among the many questions in the survey was one asking respondents to pick three issues from a list of curated issue items that they find to be the “most important issues facing families today.”
About 41% of respondents selected the answer: “parents not teaching or disciplining their children sufficiently,” while about one out of three (32%) answered with “the costs associated with raising a family.”
One-quarter of respondents (25%) said they think “high work demands on parents” and “More children growing up in single-parent homes” are among the three most pressing issues facing families today.
Just over 2 out of 10 respondents (21%) identified the “decline in religious faith and church attendance” as a major issue facing families.
When broken down based on ideological lines, 44% of Republicans included in a half sample (1,500 respondents) answered that “decline in religious faith and church attendance” as one of three major issues facing families in the U.S.
Some 51% of Republicans selected “parents not teaching or disciplining their children sufficiently” as a major issue facing families.
Additionally, 41% of GOP respondents said “more children growing up in single-parent homes” is one of the most important issues facing families today.
By comparison, just 5% of Democrats selected “decline in religious faith and church attendance,” while 25% selected “parents not teaching or disciplining their children sufficiently” and 13% answered, “more children growing up in single-parent homes.”
About 16% of Republicans selected “sexual permissiveness in our society” as a major issue facing families, while 6% of Democrats said that same. Nearly 2 in 10 Republicans (19%) said the “change in the definition of marriage and family” is a major issue facing families in the U.S., while 6% of Democrats said the same.
In the half sample, 33% selected the “coronavirus pandemic” while 20% selected “racial inequality” as major issues facing American families.
While 45% of Democrats identified the pandemic as a major concern, only 21% of Republicans said the same. While 33% of Democrats identified racial inequality as a major concern for families in the U.S., only 4% of Republicans agreed.
“For Democrats, the pandemic was single most often chosen item on the list, followed by the costs associated with raising a family,” the 40-page research report reads. “Racial inequality ranked third among Democrats and was chosen by fully one-third of Democratic respondents. By contrast, Republicans were most likely to identify parental discipline, the decline in religious faith and church attendance, and the rise of single-parent homes as the most pressing issues facing families.”
Researchers state that the data suggests that “Republicans and Democrats perceive the issues confronting families, including contemporary public health and social challenges, through very different lenses, even though partisans are talking about these issues a great deal.”
The American Family Survey began asking Americans to list the most important issues facing families since 2015.
One thing the majority of Democrats and Republicans could agree on in 2020 was that COVID-19 stimulus checks and small business relief were “helpful government policy.”
In 2020, the survey showed that there have been some positives to come out of the coronavirus pandemic from a family building perspective.
“Most notably, American families have revealed that despite the turmoil of this year, they are resilient. The pandemic is not destroying American families,” Boyd Matheson, Deseret News opinion editor, said in a statement. “In fact, it’s making them stronger. More than half (56%) of those surveyed have said the pandemic has made spouses appreciate their partner more. Only 1 in 10 disagreed.”
About 47% of respondents said that the pandemic has “deepened my commitment to my relationship,” while about 25% say that the pandemic “has increased stress in my relationship.” Only 13% said that the pandemic has “made me question the strength of my relationship” while 62% disagreed.
One in five (19%) say that there has been “some disagreement at home about social distancing and COVID-related guidelines.”
“Thus, while some Americans are struggling, others seem to have found solace in their relationships during these ongoing challenges,” the report adds.
Deseret News Editor Doug Wilks said that “strong families are upstream from a healthy, vibrant, and civilized society.”
“And that gives me hope — despite disagreements on how to solve the challenges in front of us — that America will get through this,” Wilks added.