That is what 49% of American Catholics think, according to a vast survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in June and July of 2017, on a representative sample of 5,000 American-born adults.
It appears from this survey that “God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality” any longer, as Greg Smith, associate director of the Pew Research Center, points out. The most surprising part of this survey is that more and more believers are themselves convinced that faith in God makes no difference in morals or human values.
The information Pew Research provides on the evolution of Catholic mentalities helps to understand this paradox: in 2011, 47% of American Catholics claimed it was not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral, and today this number has increased to 49%.
It is worth observing that this relativistic attitude is to be found mostly among wealthier white Catholics – 57% - for only 38% of Hispanic Catholics, who are poorer, share this opinion. The contrast is even more striking between black and white Protestants.
These results are interesting when compared with a study published in February of 2012 by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which American and Canadian researchers showed the existence of an inversely proportional relation between an individual’s social rank and his moral behavior. They seem to show that the richer a person is, the less moral he is.
It is most worrisome to see just how deeply this practical liberalism has affected Christianity in the wealthier countries over the past several decades. Our Lord warned His first disciples, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 19:24)
It seems as though even Catholics no longer believe in the power of grace and the sacraments to renew and sanctify the interior man. Or in acquiring virtue. This sugar-coated version of Christianity is also the result of a lack of faith and the absence of a Christian way of life. Christ warned: “unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:20)