We're used to hearing that America is an exceptional nation when it comes to religion. Certainly, the hold that religion has over public life is unparalleled among wealthy nations, and most Americans readily tell pollsters that they are dutifully religious.
But it seems that American religiosity might also be exceptional for quite another reason. It turns out that the gap between what they tell pollsters and what they actually do is bigger than for any other nation.
We've known for a long time that, when asked, people report going to Church more than they actually do. That's not too surprising. It's well known that, when you ask questions that relate to personal esteem, people will tend to tell you what they wish was true, rather than what actually is true.
They tell you what they want to believe.
h/t Francois Tremblay
I don't think there's any question but that Americans are more religious, at least when compared to comparable countries, such as those in Europe. The real difference though, is that Americans are just bigger hypocrites. I don't know how many times I've seen people around me, including friends, go on and on about Jesus or God, and then live no different than anybody else, or never or rarely show up at church, read a Bible, or pray. I've known drunks who were members of their church choir, fornicators who were "born again", and thieves and liars who nevertheless made sure they had their rosary with them.