Gallup: Church-Going Americans Enjoy Life More, Approve Obama Less

By Terence P. Jeffrey | March 23, 2012 | 1:59pm EDT

President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( A Gallup survey released Thursday reveals that Americans who attend religious services at least once a week enjoy life more than Americans who do not.

A separate Gallup survey, meanwhile, shows that Americans who attend religious services at least once a week are also less likely to approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.

The Gallup survey on the emotional disposition of religious and non-religious Americans was based on interviews with 329,152 adults conducted throughout 2011.

Gallup asked these respondents how often they attended religious services: never, seldom, about once a month, almost every week, or at least once a week.

It then asked them whether they experienced certain positive and negative emotions “a lot” during the previous day.  The four positive emotions Gallup asked people if they experienced “a lot” were smiling and laughing, enjoyment, happiness, and learning or doing something interesting. The four negative emotions they asked if people experienced were worry, sadness, stress and anger.

The more often a person attended religious services, Gallup discovered, the more often they experienced positive emotions and the less often they experienced negative emotions.

The less a person attended religious services, the more they experienced negative emotions and the less they experienced positive ones.

People who attended religious services at least every week reported experiencing an average of 3.36 positive emotions the day before Gallup called them. People who never attended religious services told Gallup they had experienced only an average of 3.08 positive emotions the previous day.

By contrast, those who attended religious services at least weekly said they experienced only 0.85 negative emotions the previous day, while those who said they never attended religious services said they had experienced 1.04 negative emotions.

Gallup also discovered that people who say they attended religious services at least once a week or almost weekly had their highest frequency of positive emotions for the week on Sunday. This is not true of people who attended religious services never, seldom, or about once a month. For these people, Gallup learned, Saturday is their most positive day.

No matter how often they said they attended religious services, Americans, on average, said they had their most negative day of the week during the work week—rather than during the weekend.

While people who attend religious services weekly may be happier than people who do not, they are less happy with the job President Barack Obama is doing.

In the most recent week in Gallup’s presidential approval survey (March 12-18), only 38 percent of people who said they attend religious services weekly said they approve of the job Obama is doing as president. Among those who said they attend religious services nearly weekly or monthly, 50 percent said they approve of the job Obama is doing.

But Obama’s highest approval came among those who say they seldom or never attend religious services. Among these Americans, 51 percent said they approved of the job Obama is doing.

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