A poll released Nov. 15 found that 63 percent of Americans give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day, leaving 37 percent who do not.
The survey from Lifeway Research, a Christian organization, broke it down further: 57 percent give thanks to family members, 31 percent tip their hats to friends, 8 percent thank themselves, 7 percent don't give thanks on the holiday and 4 percent do not thank anyone or anything.
According to the poll, 88 percent are most thankful for their families, 77 percent give thanks for their health, 72 percent cite freedom, 71 percent are thankful to have friends, 51 are grateful for their achievements and 32 percent are thankful for their money.
Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, told The Christian Post:
On one hand, only 80 percent of those with a Christian religious preference of some kind typically thank God at Thanksgiving. On the other hand, 25 percent of those with no religious preference give thanks to God. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that those with no religious preference are anti-religious. That is not the case for most of the Nones.
In their poll announcement, Lifeway Research noted the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, who celebrated Thanksgiving in 1621, President George Washington's proclamation of Thanksgiving Day on 1789 in honor of "that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be," and President Abraham Lincoln's designation of Thanksgiving Day as a federal holiday in 1863: "They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."
Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz told Democracy Now! on Nov. 23 that Thanksgiving Day has "never been about honoring Native Americans. It’s been about the origin story of the United States, the beginning of genocide, dispossession and constant warfare from that time, actually, from 1607 in Jamestown, until the present."
Dunbar-Ortiz later said that Thanksgiving "is a completely made-up story to say the Native people welcomed these people who were going to devastate their civilizations," and "George Washington headed the Virginia militia for the very purpose of killing Native people on the periphery of the colony, before when it was still a Virginia colony."
Dunbar-Ortiz recalled that Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday during dark times:
It actually, when it was introduced as a holiday by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, there was no mention of pilgrims and Native people or food or pumpkins or anything like that. It was simply a day for families to be together and mourn their dead and be grateful for the living.
And I think that’s an appropriate holiday, how people should enjoy it. But they should take Native Americans and Puritans out of the picture for it to be a legitimate holiday of feast and sharing with family and friends.