Some Americans use social media for religious purposes, such as posting prayer requests, following religious leaders or sharing articles or videos about religion. However, what people post or see online about religion does not always make a good impression.
A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that 17% of U.S. adults have unfollowed, unfriended, blocked or changed their settings to see less of someone on social media because of religious content the person posted or shared.
Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to explore how Americans use technology in their religious lives. It is based on a survey of 11,377 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 16-27, 2022. All respondents to the survey are part of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online panel that is recruited through national random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education, religious affiliation and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
Here are the questions used for the analysis, along with responses, and its methodology.
Atheists (36%) and agnostics (29%) are more likely than most other religious groups in this analysis to say they have blocked or unfollowed others due to religious content. Some 20% of Jews have done this, as have 13% of Protestants and 12% of Catholics.
The sample sizes for Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other groups in the survey were too small to analyze.
U.S. adults with a low level of religious commitment – that is, those who say that they seldom or never pray or attend religious services, and that religion is not too important or not at all important in their lives – are more likely than other adults to say they have changed their social media settings to see less religious content from other people.
About 24% of people with a low level of religious commitment say they’ve blocked or unfollowed someone due to their religious content, compared with 13% of those with a high level of commitment and 14% of those with a medium level of commitment.
Meanwhile, Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party are more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say they have blocked, unfriended or unfollowed someone due to religious content they posted (22% vs. 12%).
Younger adults also are more likely than older people to have blocked someone due to religious content. About two-in-ten or more of U.S. adults ages 18 to 29 (23%) and 30 to 49 (21%) have done this, compared with 14% of those ages 50 to 64 and 7% of those 65 and over.
On the flip side, far fewer Americans (3%) believe that they themselves have been unfollowed or blocked due to religious content that they posted. (The survey question did not ask for certainty about this because some sites may not alert users that they’ve been blocked or unfollowed.)
Among U.S. adults overall, 17% say they ever post information about religion on social media. That includes 2% who do so daily, 3% who do so weekly and 12% who do so monthly or less often. The vast majority of Americans say they never post about religion on social media.