The founders’ understanding of happiness has been proven correct throughout the nation’s history. De Tocqueville said of America in the 1830s, there is no country on Earth where the Christian religion retains a greater hold over the souls of men than in America.
America was also known to be the freest and happiest of nations, attracting millions of immigrants. This has seemed to reverse over the past half century. Economist Jeffrey Sachs, writing from a secular perspective, noted that despite relatively high incomes, America has become less charitable and less trusting in leaders and institutions to make moral decisions for the greater good. According to Sacks: “The American crisis is, in short, a social crisis, not an economic crisis. “
The answer to the decline in happiness is the decline of religion over the same period. Every poll for decades has shown the decline of religion in America, and these polls follow the noted trend of unhappiness. It should be noted that recent Pew polls have shown that those who identify as “very religious” are almost a third more “very happy” than non-religious.
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The very religious are also at the top of charitable giving and participation in civic organizations. According to a study by Pew, in 2009, 77% of Americans identified as Christians, and yet in 2019, only 65% identified as Christians. Meanwhile, the “nones” (no religion) have almost doubled and atheists have doubled. These trends have increased since the onset of COVID, and the depression and suicide trends noted by the CDC have also skyrocketed.