Most U.S. adults believe the nation is heading in the wrong direction, but they have significantly different views of what the country should be like, according to the 2022 American Values Survey released by Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution on October 27.

Nearly three out of four (74%) of respondents to the PRRI-Brookings survey said the country is moving in the wrong direction, with a majority of all demographic groups agreeing with this view.

While the U.S., as a whole, is evenly divided on its view of changes to the nation’s culture and way of life since the 1950s, a few demographics expressed a preference for the 1950s.

White evangelical Protestants (71%) were the most likely religious group to say, “Since the 1950s, American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the worse,” followed by other Christian groups (57%), white Catholics (53%) and white mainline Protestants (51%). No other religious demographic had a majority of respondents say things were better in the 1950s than now.

Around a third (31%) of all U.S. adults agreed with the statement, “God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world.” White evangelical Protestants (50%) were the most likely religious group to affirm this view.

Respondents were also asked whether they felt “the growing number of newcomers from other countries” was a threat to “traditional American customs and values” or whether this trend “strengthens American society.”

Overall, 55% of all adults said it strengthens society, while 40% said it is a threat. White evangelical Protestants (65%) were the most likely religious group to say newcomers are a threat, followed by white mainline Protestants (53%) and white Catholics (50%). No other religious group had a majority see newcomers as a threat to society.

White evangelical Protestants were the most likely religious group to support “Dreamers” being identified and deported (40% support this approach) and the least likely group to said they should be allowed to apply for citizenship or permanent resident status” (21%).

Hispanic Catholics were the least likely religious group to support deportation (9%), while Black Protestants were most likely to support a path to citizenship (57%). Overall, 41% of U.S. adults support a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and 22% support deportation.

Views on three core tenets of QAnon were also surveyed:

  • The government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation.
  • There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders.
  • Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.

Overall, a small number of adults affirm these views – 17%, 25% and 19%, respectively. Among religious groups, other Christians (27%) were most likely to affirm QAnon tenets, followed non-Christian religious Americans (24%), Hispanic Catholics (24%), white evangelical Protestants (23%), white mainline Protestants (17%), Black Protestants (17%), religiously unaffiliated (15%) and white Catholics (11%).

“On questions related to American identity, the parties today are worlds apart — not just politically, but culturally. They increasingly defend different histories, live in different realities, and promote two essentially incompatible views of America’s future,” Robert P. Jones, president and founder of PRRI, said in a press release announcing the report. “The survey shows a hardening rightward stance among Republicans, anchored by a white evangelical base, which is increasingly out of step with the values of most other Americans.”

The full report is available here. The topline results are available here.

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