Speed Reads

Numbers don't lie

Americans are lying about how religious they are

DAVID SILVERMAN/Getty Images

Americans are embarrassed by how infrequently they go to church and will lie to you to hide their true attendance rate, according to a new Public Religion Research Institute survey. The sneaky poll consisted of two parts, with half of respondents answering via the web and the other half answering over the phone. And on just about every question, phone responders reported strikingly higher levels of religious engagement than did web responders, indicating that the presence of another human being on the line prodded them toward sanctimoniousness.

For instance, though only 30 percent of phone respondents said they "seldom or never" go to church, 43 percent of online responders admitted as much. Meanwhile, 27 percent of phone respondents said religion was the most important thing in their lives, a number that fell to 20 percent among the online crowd.