Editor's note: CNN recently won four first-place reporting awards from the Religion Newswriters Association. Read more about the awards here.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.
The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The survey found that the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans.
Thirty-three million Americans now have no religious affiliation, with 13 million in that group identifying as either atheist or agnostic, according to the new survey.
Pew found that those who are religiously unaffiliated are strikingly less religious than the public at large. They attend church infrequently, if at all, are largely not seeking out religion and say that the lack of it in their lives is of little importance.
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And yet Pew found that 68% of the religiously unaffiliated say they believe in God, while 37% describe themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.” One in five said that they even pray every day.
John Green, a senior research adviser at Pew, breaks the religiously unaffiliated into three groups. First, he says, are those who were raised totally outside organized religion.
Survey: Protestants no longer majority in U.S.
Second are groups of people who were unhappy with their religions and left.
The third group, Green says, comprises Americans who were never really engaged with religion in the first place, even though they were raised in religious households.
“In the past, we would describe those people as nominally affiliated. They might say, 'I am Catholic; I am a Baptist,' but they never went" to services, Green says of this last group. “Now, they feel a lot more comfortable just saying, ‘You know, I am really nothing.’ ”
According to the poll, 88% of religiously unaffiliated people are not looking for religion.
“There is much less of a stigma attached" to not being religious, Green said. “Part of what is fueling this growth is that a lot of people who were never very religious now feel comfortable saying that they don't have an affiliation.”
Demographically, the growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been most notable among people who are 18 to 29 years old.
According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated. Among “older millennials,” born between 1981 and 1989, 30% are religiously unaffiliated: 4 percentage points higher than in 2007.
Poll respondents 18-29 were also more likely to identify as atheist or agnostic. Nearly 42% religious unaffiliated people from that age group identified as atheist or agnostic, a number far greater than the number who identified as Christian (18%) of Catholic (18%).
Green says that these numbers are “part of a broader change in American society.”
“The unaffiliated have become a more distinct group,” he said.
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Pew's numbers were met with elation among atheist and secular leaders. Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance, said that the growth of the unaffiliated should translate into greater political representation for secular interests.
“We would love to see the political leaders lead on this issue, but we are perfectly content with them following these demographic trends, following the voters,” Galef said.
“As more of the voters are unaffiliated and identifying as atheist and agnostics, I think the politicians will follow that for votes.
“We won’t be dismissed or ignored anymore,” Galef said.
The Pew survey suggested that the Democratic Party would do well to recognize the growth of the unaffiliated, since 63% of them identify with or lean toward that political group. Only 26% of the unaffiliated do the same with the Republican Party.
"In the near future, if not this year, the unaffiliated voters will be as important as the traditionally religious are to the Republican Party collation,” Green predicted.
Green points to the 2008 exit polls as evidence for that prediction. That year, Republican presidential nominee John McCain beat President Barack Obama by 47 points among white evangelical voters, while Obama had a 52-point margin of victory over McCain among the religiously unaffiliated.
According to exit polls, the proportion of religiously unaffiliated Americans who supported the Democratic presidential candidate grew 14 points from 2000 to 2008.
In announcing the survey’s findings at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Bethesda, Maryland, Green said the growing political power of the unaffiliated within the Democratic Party could become similar to the power the Religious Right acquired in the GOP in the 1980s.
“Given the growing numbers of the unaffiliated, there is the potential that that could be harnessed,” he said.
Soooooo...all of this was just a random accident...no plan or purpose, just a big explosion....believable. Not! Last time I checked, explosions create chaos, not order. All evidence supports that there is a God, but people CHOOSE (an act of faith) not to believe.
The world only looks ordered to you because humans are pattern-finding animals. If the universe is so ordered than why is our sun scheduled to be extinguished?
Explosions create chaos? What the heck are you talking about? How is that even relevant?
You said "all the evidence" supports your point of view. I couldn't help noticing you didn't bother to provide any of that evidence.
By the way, I believe in God.
It's a lot more honest to say "we don't know" then to say "big magic sky daddy did it with magic spellzz!"
WHAT evidence supports the existence of gawd? What is it? The fact that you can't comprehend the complexity of quantum physics and cosmic creation? Few do have a firm grasp on such things, and theories are still developing, but no person educated in such matters says that the existence of Earth proves the existence of any invisible sky fairy.
I agree. see my post earlier. It's sad how many disregard the possibility that we were created and lean on a science that they created. i.e. quantum physics............. the one thing that is a fact. we will all know the truth in the end. :)
How is that any more or less honest that a believer that “knows” God and has experienced the truth of the Word of God?
Evidence: over 40 men, in a time period of over 1,600 years, living on 3 different continents, writing with 3 different languages, wrote a book with 0 contradictions or mistakes. It is historically correct (archeological evidence) and corresponds perfectly.
There is absolutely no evidence of God, and that's why I have faith in one.
You're asking a different question than I'm answering. As to your question, yes, when delusional people spout their stupid bullsh!t that has zero evidence they are indeed being as honest as the person who says "I don't know" to a complex question instead of "invisible magic sky daddy did it with magic spellz." Yes, delusional people are most often honest in their delusions.
If we're talking about two positions based in logic; however, only one of them is honest, and that one is the "we don't know all the answers" reply, and not the "well, we don't know everything, so magic sky daddy did with magic spellz."
Given that all our Presidents have claimed Christ as Lord are they delusional, illogical or liars?
About 40% of scientists are admitted believers. When it gets down the base questions that science cannot answer and has not answered we will answer the question because “I do not know” is never a life guiding principle that is successful.
Why do I exist?- If there is no God belief then we create a foundation of belief based on no God. Purpose and meaning in life flow from the understanding of why I exist so this question cannot be “I don’t know”.
Bottom line when you say I don’t know you are rejecting the foundation of God and accepting another. Nothing has changed since the snake in Garden that created doubt about God which lead to the rejection of God. Interesting how the Word of God still applies to this day.
I'm not going to waste my time arguing with someone who claims that the phrase "I don't know" is a rejection of something. How stupid......
What book is it that you refer to? Sounds more like wikipedia but I'm sure there must be errors in there.
Step out of denial, it is not that we are speaking about quantum physics in relation to the necessity of fist cause being outside our known dimensions of length, width, space and time in order for the theory of relativity to hold because that is a given even though you might not know how that relates to God.
You may know or not know how redshift effects probability analysis of fine tuning even though you might not know how that relates to God.
That is the point God cannot be found by reason yet you attempt to use reason to justify inability to find God.
Let us look at it from another view. When you call my Lord a sky daddy you have shown exactly what you believe. All the scientific reasoning you use which does not apply to a sky daddy you go ahead and apply it anyway. If you are a scientist or understand the basic hard sciences you should know how silly this is.
On the issue of belief in God as opposed to a known non-existent sky daddy you do have a belief. It is not an unknown for you. If you did not know you would refuse to insult God because that would be reasonable. If you did not know you would recognize the difference between scientific proofs and the evidence for God. If you did not know you could understand that evolution theory does not conflict with what is known about God.
Yet you do know because of your position on key points of reason.
Still using the same fallacies and idiocy I see.
Perhaps it has something to do with half the churches in America becoming satellite offices of the local Republican Party.
My relationship with a greater universe may be depicted as: ME G-D.
I love to see religion fading away. It is a major step for the advancement of the human race.
Considering that religion is the primary stumbling block to human advancement, I tend to agree.
When the number of comments here reaches 6,000-7,000 the Messiah will come.
I am already here. I will grant you three wishes.
Yes, but which Messiah it will be? Christian, Muslim, or, perhaps, a no religion one...
Well for the first wish – fix this damn easy-bake oven. I want to make me some little cheesecakes.
If the "Messiah" is reading this blog, He's not much of a Messiah.
@Jesus Christ. Three wishes? Are you in a bottle?
"In the near future, if not this year, the unaffiliated voters will be as important as the traditionally religious are to the Republican Party collation,”
Very naive statement. Numbers of people in a group do not equal number of voters (or dollars of contribution). Religious zealots vote and contribute for a burning cause. It's not likely that the "unaffiliated" will be so motivated. (btw, I am atheist)
I grew up Pentecostal. But after " Coming Out Of The Book " I realized I have been brainwashed and indoctrinated. I no longer believe in the made up writings of men who lived 2,000 yrs ago. Its all MADE UP. Some of the stuff is just rediculous to believe, like when a woman gets a haircut she is to be stoned to death. This is just crazy writings and there are more just like the one I pointed out. Remember the famous quote " If its too good to be true, it usually is ".
But what are the chances that over 40 men on 3 different continents using 3 different languages could write a book that has 0 contradictions/mistakes over the time period of 1,600 years? Can someone say "inspired"?
"""what are the chances that over 40 men on 3 different continents using 3 different languages could write a book that has 0 contradictions/mistakes over the time period of 1,600 years? Can someone say "inspired"?"""
Can someone say "delusional"?
regarding bible contradictions:
Dan, I didn't realize that women being stoned to death for haircuts was too good to be true...
I find it almost impossible to believe that we all exist because of some great cosmic accident. Do you non-believers truly think that a few rocks bumped into each other and just happened to create a planet and atmosphere perfect to support life with the intelligence to create what we have created? Really??? You're so sure there is no GOD, but you refuse to explain how we got here..............
that's because we don't know. But God is a completely unsupported hypothesis
So according to your logic.....since you can't grasp quantum physics (probably never even bothered to watch one of the History Channel shows on the subject), the world MUST have been created by a great invisible sky daddy in his invisible sky city. Step back and think about your logic, or lack thereof.
When you don't know the answer to a complex math problem, do you put the word "God" in the answer space?
You like religion because you are simple minded... just as your comment suggests the world is very confusing to you. You are intellectually weak, and rely on fairy tales for explanations.
Thank you, Jesus Christ Our Lord, for your amusing insight!
If you research evolution by natural selection, you will find that it is the complete opposite of accidental. Which is accidental, however, is religion. A person is of a certain religion because of their birth location, they were born from parents of that religion, etc. That is purely accidental.
Dave, if you are saying that people don't choose to have a religion, you haven't thought things through. There's no sound argument for evolution either. I would bet all of the money in the world that no one who has ever lived on this planet has witnessed evolution happen before their very eyes.
No one's refusing anything, dear. Some of us just know political sales literature and folklore when we see it – that's all. The Bible – well that's rehashed fable through and through. My goodness.
So why does all the overwhelming evidence all point in one direction when the "other" possibility has zero evidence or even a slight reason to believe it is remotely possible? It is very simplistic to use the argument of ignorance. If we can't prove A, then it must be B, no matter how insane B is. Sorry, the real world doesn't work that way, and that is why religion is dying. There is a huge factor here, if a person actually cares what they believe is true or not. I care about truth, if you don't care if what you believe is true or not, rather you just want to believe because maybe someone told you to, then we don't have a discussion.
"So why does all the overwhelming evidence all point . ."
nothing points because fable is not evidence
and rehashed fable is less-than evidence
If you really are talking about science being the little evidence that we have, then OK. I thought you were equating evidence with religious writings. (Dave)
Dave, it wouldn't matter if I believe in God or not. All I want to know is if you believe that people have ever witnessed evolution happen or not. By the way, you shouldn't place so much faith in science; people wrote the Bible, and people wrote the science books, too. If you think science or logic is flawless, you have again not thought things through fully.
Yes, Luke, evolution is DIRECTLY observed all the time. Literally, in labs all over the world, every day all day. Research a little bit. And if you knew anything about genetics, you'd know that the debate has been settled a while back now. You're ignorant of the facts, and you should rectify that before you look more stupid arguing things you don't know about.
If a scientist has ever observed a monkey turn into a human, please give me his name and his address so I can reject all beliefs about God and throw away my faith RIGHT NOW.
LOLOLOLOL!!!! Luke, you have no idea what evolution even is, do you? Holy Sh!t balls that was freaking hilarious!!! As I said before, you may want to do some research before you make yourself look so absolutely brain dead on a topic.
It's like you're saying that math just can't work because bananas + 4 just doesn't equal "swingset."
You're mostly right: I do not know much about evolution at all because I haven't gotten around to studying it. Point me in the right direction of where to start my research and I will absolutely look at anything you have to offer me.
I like talkorigins.org. Great source. Just to clear one thing though, the speciation you're talking about with "monkeys to humans" will never occur, mostly because monkeys are a completely different family from humans. Apes and monkeys are two very different classifications. Also, the type of change you're talking about takes place over millions of years, not over a single generation, and even millions of years could be different depending on the mutations that occur, and how natural selection goes.
Luke, you have the internet at your disposal, and there are literally thousands upon thousands of doc uments and files and videos out there for folks who want to know more about evolution. There's hundreds of videos, and this one may not be the "best one" to start with, but it's not too bad.
Check this one out, Luke, it shows how science found something that SEEMED to go against evolution, but with further study and research turned out to PROVE evolution to an even greater degree.
I did watch both videos, and thank you for sharing them with me. I am still a complete Christian and these videos didn't change anything, but I am glad that you were willing to even take the time to find these videos and share them. I have seen at least a few times on these posts about atheists talking about religion slowing down mankind and that education and knowledge will save them. Even though I don't agree with your views at all, I am glad that you could find a way of educating people about evolution without being insulting. It is much more effective than hurling insults and pointing fingers. I am proud of you.
Luke, it would be very very unwise and disappointing to me if you were to change your mind on god based on evolution, or my arguments about atheism, or any other person's arguments. You would need to "realize" that your god-belief is stupid on your own terms, and that can be very, very difficult. I don't even recommend it to my believer friends. I simply recommend more critical thinking and that's what I recommend to you.
I reject your god for the same reason you reject the muslim god and religon--I was just able to critically evaluate my own god on the same exact terms as you and I critcally evaluate the muslim god. Most people are unable to do that.
Don't worry about the god thing, now. Look into evolution honestly, critically. Heck, try to prove it wrong. But be honest with yourself on the adventure and really consider the evidence. Evolution is fact, and most christians agree that it is. You can too.
As your Lord I command YOU to stop believing in fairy tales.
This really is a sad article, and it is disheartening to see everyone who is atheist or agnostic, whether they see it as sad or not, because religion is supposed to enrich the life of the follower. Now, ORGANIZED religion absolutely has its flaws, but there is never a flawless religion because there are never flawless followers. I hope that the atheists out there aren't confusing church with having a religion: church is just a symbol of faith, not faith itself. None of you have to consider a word that I have said, and that is your "God-given" (pun) right to do so, but I do ask you to consider this: How can you use logic to explain an illogical God? Do you strike stones to bring forth water, part seas to pass through, turn water into wine? Most of the Bible makes absolutely no sense, but isn't that why it's called "faith?" Faith is never based on logic, and that's what is so interesting about it.
You make faith sound so useless, which it is.
Why do you think that it is useless?
Faith is just an excuse to claim to believe something with no evidence, it does no real good. You require evidence in anything in this world, anything you endeavor, however with religion people just drop that requirement. None of it is real, there is not even a slightest reason to think it is. Here is the million dollar line: The fact that believing something to be true might bring good to your life is not reason enough to believe it.
Dave, do you believe that we have souls? Do you believe in courage, love, hatred? The last three can be argued that they are real, but it would take some very strong research to explain why. The funny thing about the last three things at least is that you can't touch them, you can't see them, you can't hear them, you can't taste them. Yet I doubt you could argue against their existence.
Please wake up. We see love, hate and courage all the time.
Hate: Movie theater shooting
Courage: Cancer survivor
None of your examples are true necessarily, first of all. Secondly, show me courage. Can you take a picture of it and show it to me? I could say faith exists and show you a martyr. I could say God exists and show you a painting of him. I am willing to listen to a better argument, not this one.
We can see direct effects in behaviour with those particular things, and we can also measure the type of activity the brain goes through when these things are manifest. Faith is merely the acceptance of something without any evidence. Faith is not an emotion, and has no physical manifestation in behaviour.
More and more are standing back, and questioning. Ask yourself, how stupid is it to live your life based on an invisible sky daddy guide book supposedly handed down by the invisible sky daddy in his invisible sky city, who constantly threatens you with eternal torture in the invisible fire pit below, at the hands of the invisible horned devil and his pitchfork, when there is not a single shred of evidence that ANY of this exists. NONE. People are such herd animals, so easily corralled into whatever ridiculous system they have forced upon them. Think people, THINK.
You're not talking about the Bible.
Sure sounds like he is to me, Luke.
First of all, who said that the devil had horns? People did, not Jesus. Another thing, Jesus never threatened people with Hell; he simply told them what would happen if they didn't believe. And obviously Heaven isn't in the sky: otherwise we would have found it by now. So with certainty, I can say that this guy is not talking about The Holy Bible.
OK., If my God is pure love, and I am in Heaven in his "all-inclusive" palace with 28 gorgeous women and I have what it takes to satisfy them – I am a believer!!!
Sorry Atheists and those who hate religion... I know you want to put all of humanity's problems on Religion, but unfortunately for you the facts are not there... Hitler killed millions without regard for religion... he was just a guy that hated different races... Stalin supressed and opressed religion, he didn't care for it at all because kindness, love, compassion had no place in his world and he murdered MILLIONS... The communist regime in China is anti-religion... killed millions because again, no place for compassion... The worlds Greatest murderers were not affilliated with any common religion, People are good or evil regardless of what you believe... It is very narrow-minded to think Atheism is somehow the key to solving the suffering in this world.... on the contrary, in a civilized society, Religion has become the spring board for more foreign aid than any other source.
Read Mein Kampf. Hitler thought he was doing god's work.
So humans in power end up assholes...wow, thanks for that revelation. But tell me: which one of those folks you named started killing...in the name of atheism?
Also, sorry to burst your bubble...but stuff like charity existed long before religion and will exist long after.
Hitler was Christian.
"Hating religion" wouldn't be productive, and I don't think most atheists "hate religion". It's more a matter of completely dismissing it as foolishness, all the while realizing how much it holds mankind back. Religion is a sickness, knowledge and education are the cures.
Oh wait, let me help Clinton here: "Hitler couldn't have been a REAL christian, christians would never do stuff like that!"
I'm sorry, "Clinton", but all of your assertions are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
Absolutely rediculous and non-factual response... Hitler was not a Christian... he was whacked out and believed in some cult crap... He was more or less a guy that believed in the movement of the stars and the all that garbage, either way if you ever read the bible you'd know Christ does not preach murder of the jews you morons... holy crap... maybe the reason you hate religion so much is because you have no fracking clue what it says.
You disgrace the handle you use.
First – Hitler.... Christian, used christian theology in order to spur on his insane gamble to kill jews.
Two – Not all atheists are communists and Communism only employs "atheism" in order to make sure all comrads worship the supreme leader and the politburo.
As an atheist, I don't believe forced atheism will solve the worlds problems, what will is when people realize it's up to us to save ourselves, not wait for some magic man in the sky to do it for us.
You are desp.icable
I remember this alias "Clinton". I do believe it goes with "pervert alert" and similar.
"Hitler was not a Christian..." Well you may not think so. But that's the problem with Christians. They are always telling each other to what degree they meet the definition. But sorry to burst your bubble. Hitler was a Christian. He mentioned it many times in his writings.
"Hitler was not a Christian...he was whacked out and believed in some cult crap."
Exactly....he was a Christian! :-)
There has never been a war fought to promote atheism
"Hitler was not a Christian... he was whacked out and believed in some cult crap..."
Exactly, Clinton – that's called christianity. You get a cookie.
Clinton. That is not true. Hitler was a christian. The bible may not say to murder Jews (I presume you mean the NT as the OT obviously only has god killing Jews) but the christian churches have historically had animosity towards Jews; members of certain sects still do – remember Mel Gibson?
Mao and Stalin are responsible for many deaths but few if any were directly for religious reasons – struggle for power and the struggle to retain power, failed social policies (millions died in the Ukraine from starvation because of poor agricultural policy and associated quotas).
There were and still are many examples of wars and conflicts primarily driven by religion – by that I mean kings or people claiming to represent the religion. And don't forget that centuries ago in Europe the pope would often be involved.
Atheism isn't the key, but it is a very good start.
And by the way, Hitler was religious. He was raised Catholic and remained a member of the church until his death and insisted that his inner circle do the same. As with most Christians, he only believed in religion when it was convenient to his own interests and often used it to advance his own agenda (amazing how history repeats itself). You should read up on the subject (I suggest Joachim Fest. He's written several books on the Hitler and the Nazi Party).
Also, saying the world's greatest murderer's aren't associated with any "common" religion is pure BS. A religious belief is a religious belief, regardless of how many believe in it. The implication that their is only one true religion and all others are fake has lead to the death of countless humans throughout history.
The numbers will continue to rise just as more and more people continue to learn to shed their blinders and see the real truth.....just as the founding fathers intended it to be. Keep your goofy religion to yourselves. Carry on.
I don't think the founding fathers were atheists.
Cant blame people from turning away from religion.
It's hard to justify the behavior of some religious folks the last ten years,
And seeing them spew such hate from monday through saturday and then worship their god on sunday for two hours is so false and plastic,.It has push me further way from organizing religion than ever before..
"The Last Temptation of Christ" is better
Getting hit in the head with a brick is better.
Great, great, news. Living in the Bible Belt my entire life, it has been refreshing over the last several years to actually see folks begin to question their beliefs and see that religion is merely a money-making enterprise with authoritarian personalities looking to fleece the flock. I figure a god that needs my money isn't worthy of much worship. :) This, hopefully, is a trend that will continue at a steady pace.
Or a quickening pace.
Once again, for all those who believe God is a life-form and take the physical characteristic of a male human. Good luck to you and your explanation how the Universe actually functions. I still believe in God, except in my mind, he/she/it is not a life form, it is a collection of admirable principles and positive ideals. Principles, which include law of Physics and rule of probability. Ideals, which includes faith to those principles.
But then why call it God? Seems a little chicken.
To begin with, that Poll was a lot of nonsense–as are most polls. And how can you tell it's useless? Because they don't even tell you how many people were surveyed! Typically, that number is buried somewhere near the end of the article, but this one doesn't mention it at all!
Of course, they throw percentages around like manhole covers.
So you're going to disbelieve the poll, not because you researched it (as referenced in the article) but because the article that referenced the poll doesn't one of your criteria? Why don't you look into the actual poll and see if you're rebuttal has any weight before you put it out there?
Here's a link to the survey. You might have to open the PDF to see everything...
Ya... I looked into it.. it said 35,000 people.. barely a small town... Pew worth $millions and asked IRS in 2001 to call themselves a "non-profit" business .... people will spend money on whatever to get thier own opionions turned into facts... pathetic... just like the cop out on religion... happiness
Posted as "Jewish" last time:
"To begin with, that Poll was a lot of nonsense–as are most polls. And how can you tell it's useless? Because they don't even tell you how many people were surveyed! Typically, that number is buried somewhere near the end of the article, but this one doesn't mention it at all!
Of course, they throw percentages around like manhole covers."
I responded with the number back on p64.
It's only matter of time. Calling scientific knowledge "‘Lies From Pit Of Hell’ does not help. Not to mention aiding and abetting pedophile priests. Mega-Churche$$$$, Wake up people and smell the coffee, even the churches themselves regard their followers are sheep.
Yes they do.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.