Although all religious groups in the United States enjoy freedom, Christian traditions have had a stronger influence on American life than those of any other faith. For example, most offices, factories, and other places of employment are closed on Sunday, the Sabbath of most Christians. The influence of Christianity results from the fact that a majority of the people are Christians.
Throughout the country's history, religion has influenced everyday life in a number of ways. For example, in colonial America many religious rules were enforced by local governments (see Colonial life in America [The church]). Some of the laws that prohibited activities on Sunday still exist (see Sunday).
Today, religion has relatively less influence in the everyday lives of most Americans. But churches and other, religious organizations continue to play important roles in American life. Their chief functions are to provide moral guidance and places for worship. However, religious groups also operate many elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and nursing homes. They provide aid for refugees, the poor the elderly, orphans, and other persons in need. Social gatherings are held at many churches. Some religious І groups take active roles in discussing such issues as birtlh control and rights for minorities and women.
Historically, the United States' religious tradition has been dominated by Protestant Christianity, but this tradition coexists in a public sphere where religious plurality and secularism are the norm. For example, the United States Constitution enshrined individual freedom of religious practice, which courts have since interpreted to mean that the government is a secular institution, an idea called "reparation of church and state".
According to the same study, the major Christian denominations (making up the vast majority of faiths actively practiced in the United States) are (in order): Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal (aka Charismatic or Evangelical), Episcopalian, Latter-Day Saints, Church of Christ, and Congregational.
According to other studies, as reported by the Statistical Abstract of the United States, Americans' self-reported religious affiliations are 56% Protestant, 27% Roman Catholic, 2% Judaism, 1% Orthodox Christianity, 1% Mormon faith, 5% "other specific" religion, and 8% "other" or "did not designate." Some 68% of Americans are members of a place of worship, and 44% attend that place of worship regularly.
Most people commute to work using automobiles rather than mass transit (the New York Metropolitan Area is a notable exception); the effect of the automobile on the United States and its prominence in American life cannot be overestimated. Most jobs are based on a 40-hour work week; typically five days (Monday through Friday), eight hours per day. By law, after 40 hours, employers must pay overtime which is 150% their normal wage, although many workers are exempt, including almost all who work for a biweekly salary instead of an hourly wage. On holidays, some companies pay double.
The United States has minimum wage laws requiring a minimum wage for many employees, though a number of employment sectors are excluded. Minimum wage differs from state to state; some states have higher minimum wages than the wage mandated by the federal government.
According to equal opportunity labor laws, employers are not allowed to discriminate based on race, gender, religion, political convictions, family situation, marital or parental status. In addition, applicants need not provide photos or personal information on these topics, however drug tests and criminal background checks are sometimes required. Employees must pay federal and state income tax to the government. In most cases, employees are not allowed to attend work after drinking alcohol or to drink alcohol during work. Exceptions include some restaurant jobs, bars and business meetings.
Vacations are usually two weeks, but unlike in most developed countries, there is no legal minimum. Other company benefits may include sick days and/or personal days. The common retirement age is roughly 65, with many retiring either earlier or later, depending on their personal finances and their job statisfaction. Some Americans, especially professionals continue part-work such as teaching community college classes after retirement. Others continue to work past 65 due to their job statisfaction. US companies often offer benefits such as health and dental insurance, and life insurance. In addition, the benefits can often include the employee's family as well. A few companies provide various lessons for free, such as relaxation to improve their work performance. However, most benefits are not mandated by law, and there is a large range of wages, compensation and benefits in different types of jobs. Generally, the most physically demanding jobs such as construction and farm labor are the least well compensated. Compared to most European systems, work culture in the USA seems to be much harder for employees. For example, there is less paid vacation, paid sick days, maternity leave and benefits for parents.
Most Americans have a great deal of lei sure time, and they spend it in a variety of ways. They pursue hobbies, take part in sports activities, attend sporting and cultural events, watch movies and television, listen to music, and read books and magazines. They enjoy trips to museums, beaches, parks, play-grounds, and zoos. They take weekend and vacation trips, eat at restaurants, go on picnics, and entertain friends at home. Theseand other activities contribute to-the richness and diversity of American life.
Sports rank as a leading American pastime. Millions I of Americans enjoy watching such sports events as automobile races, horse races, and baseball, basketball, and football games-either in person or on television. Many Americans, especially children and other young people, play baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. People of most ages participate in such sports as bicycle riding, boating, bowling, fishing, golf, hiking, hunting, running, skiing, Softball, swimming, and tennis.
Motion pictures, plays, concerts, operas, and dance performances attract large audiences in the United states. Americans find entertainment at home, as well. About 98 per cent of all American homes have a television set. On the average, a set is in use in each home for about seven hours a day.
Hobbies occupy much of the leisure time of many Americans. Large numbers of people enjoy raising bower or vegetable gardens or indoor plants. Other popular hobbies include stamp collecting, coin collecting, and photography. Since the mid-1900's, interest in HP1 crafts hobbies as needlepoint, quilting, weaving, pottery making, and woodworking has increased.