Christianity played a large role in the U.S. temperance movement. Yet alcohol remains a prominent part of the Christian religion, from the Gospel account of Jesus turning water into wine, to present-day European monks who support themselves by brewing beer, to the use of wine in some contemporary communion services.
Perhaps reflecting this nuanced connection between religion and alcohol, different religious groups in the U.S. report different drinking habits. Religiously affiliated Americans also differ from adults who say they don’t have a religion, a category that includes agnostics, atheists and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.”
Among U.S. Christians, for example, Catholics are more likely than Protestants to say they’ve consumed alcohol in the past 30 days (60% vs. 51%). Adults who don’t belong to any religion, meanwhile, are more likely (24%) than both Catholics (17%) and Protestants (15%) to have engaged in binge drinking in the past month. (The survey did not include enough Mormon or Muslim respondents to analyze separately, but both of these religious groups teach their followers to abstain from alcohol.)
These patterns may be explained by the diversity of views that people from different religious traditions hold about the morality of alcohol.
Catholics (15%) and Protestants (16%) are about twice as likely as religiously unaffiliated Americans (7%) to say drinking is morally wrong, according to a separate survey conducted by the Center in 2017.
There are differences in these views within different religious traditions, too. Among Protestants, white evangelicals are roughly three times as likely as white mainline Protestants to say that drinking alcohol is morally wrong (23% vs. 7%). Like white mainline Protestants, few white Catholics (5%) view drinking alcohol as morally wrong. However, the higher rate among Catholics overall who say alcohol is morally wrong may be due to the large number of Latinos in the U.S. Catholic Church, and the opposition to alcohol in many Central and South American cultures.
Full story at Pew Research.