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October 9th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Survey: One in five Americans has no religion

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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Faith Now • Politics • Polls

soundoff (7,763 Responses)
  1. #1jesusFan

    Having faith is like having JESUS and GOD inside of you.

    YOU MUSt feel their LOVE and COMPASSION enter you,

    It's like a warm flurry of COSMIC POWER

    October 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Nixon2

      Atheists won't understand that because they have no soul.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Wha??

      Are you talking about midichlorians?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Oscar Meyer's Wiener

      Is that the same thing as when i felt the hot wet love of the priest erupting inside fo me?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      That sounds like a three some

      October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • #1jesusFan

      @Nixon2

      I COMPLETELY agree!!

      And Athesists=Jews and Muslims and Catholics and Hindu's too.Because 'believeing ' in these 'rleigions' is JUST as BAD as no Relgion.!

      October 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • David Stone

      Facing REALITY is the single most empowering thing any person can do. That would mean leaving behind invisible fairies, sky cities, demons in firepits...etc.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      #1, what you fail to understand is that the wonderful feeling you have inside, is just that INSIDE you, not something that came from outside to infest you. I get the same warm fuzzy feeling when I looked at my children when they were young, and I know those feelings were Mine, not Jesus.... I can get that "high" from speaking to a crowd of people, getting into the rhythm, allowing myself to get worked up... I know a man who used to be a preacher who can still preach and MAKE you feel that Jesus is in you, and he KNOWS there is no god... It's call psychology..

      October 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Rationalist

      That sort of thing belongs on p0rn blogs, not here. Take it there.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Nixon and Jesus Fan, what will it take for Christian Fundamentals like you to LEARN that Atheism is NOT a religious belief. Just because all you have to compare us to is what you believe, does not make it so. We do NOT have a religion, hence the A-Theist handle.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nixon, prove anyone has a "soul."

      Cite your sources. The Bibble doesn't count.

      Why do you keep changing your moniker, dear? You do know you're pretty easy to spot, don't you? No, you witless fvcktard, you don't know sh!t from shinola.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      "And Athesists=Jews and Muslims and Catholics and Hindu's too.Because 'believeing ' in these 'rleigions' is JUST as BAD as no Relgion.!"

      There are days when I wish god did exist, and that he was a just and honorable god. Then he would make people who say things like this, have to scrub the toilets in heaven for eternity. To me, all religions are just fine, if you want to believe then by all means. I believe you happen to be wrong, not that it matters, and as long as you don't try and take over MY world, then I wish you happiness.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Epica

      In Hinduism they believe all religions are just different paths up the same mountain...though JC and Nixon there may be walking on more of a decline than an incline.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  2. Nixon2

    Atheism is unhealthy for children. It is a Satanic Sect.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Observer

      Believing in talking animals and unicorns is unhealthy for intellient adults.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That's just stupid. Atheists have no belief in a god OR satan, dingdong.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Nixon2

      Here come Tom Tom The Dummy Piper again, don't you have anything else to do in life? I've seen you on every Religion articles post on CNN. Atheist basement lost case.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • David Stone

      Stating that atheism is satanic is quite obviously absurd. Think about what you are saying...atheists don't believe in invisible fairies, including the horned red devil guy with the pitchfork.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Al

      Somebody could really use a tray of Jell-O shots.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • ThereIsNoGod

      How can it be a satanic sect if they don't believe in Satan?
      A Satanic Sect is one that worships Satan and atheists worship nobody.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Nixon2

      Oh wait till you see the next wave later on tonight of other Atheists from UK coming here and bashing religions. lol ...Atheists are Satanic.and are spreading hatred.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • jmikejohnson

      Ha!!! That's hilarious! So since I don't believe in god, I must be a Satan worshiper? Give me a break!

      October 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Wha??

      no Nixon2...you're doing a good job at that.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, shove it up your azz, Nixon, you babbling fool. If you see me on every article, what are YOU doing there? You're a chucklehead.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  3. Saint_John

    We were all atheists at birth and for quite some time beyond that. Eventually, most of us were taught some type of religious BS. Too bad that everything they taught us in the religious sense was made up entirely of lies. Yes, those who relayed the information to us may have believed what they were teaching us, but they claimed to "know for certain" that it was the truth. They absolutely did not "know for certain" that any of it was the truth. All of these trusted adults are guilty of lying to us. I call it child abuse. What do you think?

    October 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      I won't let my kids go through the same indoctrination I suffered through.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • yep

      It's all about what region of the world your born live and what religion your parents are.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • rory

      As a Christian I forgive. My faith is that...faith. I do not see why people get so angry about that.

      Too all the other Christians being attacked, leave it be..this is just a sign of the times. You will be persecuted by those who do not believe...even on a message board.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I thinkj you are absolutely correct. Now for a new spin on that. I reared three children, two sons and a daughter, all three were reared in a secular home without any forcing of religion on them. They were exposed to religion and they did go to church but only when they wanted to go, never because I made them go. I NEVER went to church with them, but we did discuss religion when they brought it up.

      Today, my two sons are married to religious women and both claim to be Christians. My oldest son, because of his wife, will not speak to me because i am an atheist. My youngest son goes to church, but has no issue at all with my atheism. My daughter, the youngest, is an atheist, just like her Papa.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who's "persecuting" you? How? You're not being persecuted if all that's going on is that many more people are challenging your insistence that others believe, or live according to your beliefs.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Ed

      I was forced to go to church (Presbyterian) until my mid-teens when my parents got tired of arguing with me about it. Most of the people were nice enough, I just didn't get it and had other ideas for Sunday morning (like sleep). Flash forward 30 years and my father is an atheist and mom's a Unitarian. When speaking to my dad recently, he said that at the time they were true believers and that, as such, they were concerned about my getting to heaven.
      No matter how misguided, I cannot classify indoctrination as "abuse". They did it becaused they loved me and were sincerely worried about my "soul". We laugh about it now.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • rory

      by bullying, making fun of our savior, saying how stupid we are...etc.

      that's persecution...beyond the mere challenging of ideas.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • c smythe

      I was deeply offended at the age of 8 when I discovered Santa was a myth. I have detested lies ever since. Hence an almost militant atheism. I abhor violence . . . so not TOO militant. Needing a supernatural guide is only a crutch for the mentally weak . . .

      October 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  4. alskdfoeingveripoun

    one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.
    This means 20%
    The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years
    25 is bigger than 20, and you can't have negative percents
    Just saying

    October 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Seriously

      Great logic, except for the fact that you have no idea what you're talking about. If the report says that 20% of Americans are "None," up 25% from X amount of years ago, it is stating that there was a 25% increase in that number. It's not stating that 1 in 4 Americans are "None." Go back to middle school.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • geizelcatz

      Um... 25% INCREASE... That means that 5 years ago the number was around 20% -> 20 + (.25 * 20) = 25%

      Although this does put into question how they define "fastest growing." If the rate of increase, rather than the total number of new people is how they define it, this is very misleading. I could have formed my own religion called Geizelcatzism which grew by 600% over the last 5 days if I got six people to join it. That doesn't make it the biggest trend in religious pratice like the headline suggests.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Brad

      You clearly do not understand math. Imagine it like this. You have 5 slices of pizza. 1 slice, which is 20% of the pizza, has no toppings. Now if you eat 25% of that one slice, you didn't eat 25% of the whole pizza... right?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • ThereIsNoGod

      No wonder we are like 30th in math worldwide, as well as comprehension. Go back and read the article.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  5. Paul

    I wonder how it feels to be religious, knowing that you're wrong, but yet hold onto a faith because the people surrounding you insist on that faith being real.....else you'll burn baby burn!

    I'd guess that the number of people in this situation is quite staggering. I'm sure everyone's questioned their faith at one point or another.

    Rest assured, for those people reading, you are RIGHT in thinking this way. It's ok not to believe the fairy tales. It has been and continues to be just stories from thousands of years ago. There is no tangible evidence, other than the bible itself, of God's existence.

    As an Atheist, I welcome you w/ open arms into our society (if you want to call it that) without the fear of you being burned in hell for an eternity......because you won't.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • jaxr127

      That's not why I or most Christians believe in what we believe. But whatever bro

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Paul

      It honestly doesnt' matter what you believe if you are wrong now does it.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Then why?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • jaxr127

      @Paul- well I don't believe that I am wrong, you may disagree
      @Lamb- we believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins

      October 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • rory

      but you're right Paul! Aren't you?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      I understand that. But why? I was raised catholic I know what you believe. But why?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Clinton

      Paul – Interesting to hear someone who does not believe explain to other folks the reason that they believe. I don't believe in God because i fear the results of not believing. I believe in God because it makes sense to me. I have learned the vastness and intracate nature of the Universe as i have grown and I am constantly amazed at what i learn. I believe a higher power created this Universe and I believe he has in fact influenced humanity at times throughout history, i believe people throughout history have recorded these events to the best of their ability and our greatest example IN MY OPINION is the teachings of Jesus Christ, who taught us to love one another... that hate is evil... and that we are not eachothers Judges... Many folks who are Christians have a strict guideline of what they believe is like some checklist that God is keeping to decide whether or not folks get into heaven or go to hell... but i don't believe that. There is no reason to fear going to hell if you are a good person and are kind to others... there are many misguided folks out there that think they get to judge folks... it explicitly says we are not judges of others souls... this is probably where the animosity comes from with regards to folks outside of our Religion. Please don't get me wrong, i can't tell you why everybody else believes in Christ and in God... but I know for me, it's not out of fear.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Paul

      @jaxr127
      ----–
      You can continue making assertions in hopes that people will believe you, but until you provide any amount of substantial evidence, you are simply wrong. Your fairy tales are false. When I say you, I am naturally talking about the religious crowd.

      Naturally, if the religious crowd provided evidence to the contrary which was then confirmed by scientists to be accurate, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Until that time comes, without having a shred of said evidence, all you're doing is spreading a God awful lie – pun intended. A lie, not a probability, but a lie.

      >>> but you're right Paul! Aren't you?
      I am right. Feel free to show me the evidence to the contrary.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Paul

      @Clinton
      -----–

      I wasn't explaining to other folks the reason they believe in , rather than providing one example out of many that scares people. You can certainly feel free to use whatever reason you believe in your God you like, but it doesn't change the fact that religious people literally throw-up "Bu..Sh.." without a single fact. Not one, but zero.

      >> IN MY OPINION is the teachings of Jesus Christ
      Unfortunately for you, your opinion is irrelevant. Your opinion is based on fantasy/fables. You opinion is based on a 4000 yr. old peice of literature, and not a single shred of evidence. You opinion is NOT fact. You are simply wrong.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Saint_John

      @ Paul – Atheism, or whatever you would like ot name it is an extremely liberating philosophy. I liken it to waking up on a beautiful spring Saturday with the whole day to yourself. Non belief is fresh and exhilarating. It also stays that way and in my case, that feeling has increased. I'm convinced that absolutely nothing will happen to you when you die. It will be like going to sleep and never waking up. This is kinda the reverse of when you were born which was like waking up without having ever gone to sleep. The beginning and the end are not really much different. What happens in between (our lives) are what counts. It's very likely the only shot at existence we will get. It is not a dry run. This is it! I choose not to waste time on imaginary deities. This perspective may actually motivate some when they finally come to accept that they are running out of time. It adds a distinct urgency to life. It's much better, IMO, to live your life as if it's the only one you will ever have. Think about it; do you really, really want to live forever?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  6. JesusNotReligion

    DOES ANYTHING ELSE REALLY NEED TO BE SAID BY US WHO LOVE, WORSHIP & FOLLOW AFTER JESUS THAN WHAT THE APOSTLE JOHN WROTE BELOW?

    1 John 1:1-10
    1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

    YOU CAN MAKE BELIEVE THIS ABOVE QUOTE IS IN NO WAY HISTORICALLY VALID OR POSSESSES ANYWHERE NEAR THE SUBSTANTIATED EVIDENCE WE TAKE BY FAITH WHEN WE READ WHAT WAS WRITTEN BY THOSE WHO "HEARD", "TOUCHED" and WROTE ABOUT ABRAHAM LINCOLN (though no one would argue he never existed), BUT I WOULD VENTURE TO SAY THAT IF OUR ETERNAL DESTINY HINGED ON PLACING FAITH IN THE PERSON & WORK OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, MANY OF YOU WOULD FIND A WAY TO DISPROVE HIS EXISTENCE. (Caps were used to grab attention)...

    We who have come to know the Jesus of the Bible (NOT THE DOMESTICATED "JESUS" OF "RELIGION") through the power of the gospel and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, are commanded to tell others the good news of salvation (i.e. How to be SAVED)...and His commands are not burdensome to us if our motive is truly LOVE (i.e. Love for Him and Love for our neighnor as ourselves)...

    In some sense The Beatles were right..."All ya need is love..." But "LOVE" LOGICALLY REQUIRES AN ABSOLUTE SOURCE OF TRUTH (more CAPS for more emphasis...Think it through before you throw out your statements of faith, and opinions at me/us that have no absolute source of truth behind them...I can simply reply to all of your comments with your own one word philosophical worldview, "WHATEVER"...try me...In the meantime, you all heard the salvation message that brings eternal life "to all who believe"...God is no, respecter of persons...and neither is death...

    The gospel of SALVATION is about Jesus' DEATH & RESURRECTION LOVE...NOT DEAD RELIGION!

    October 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Oh no, not more of Gullible's Travels.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • JesusNotReligion

      If the grammar police are out...HAVE AT IT...You all get the point...or maybe not...

      October 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • End Religion

      Cram a bible up your backside and see if that uplifts your spirits.
      BTW, you're going to hell.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Jesus is dead. His resurrection is a fairytale.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Tom

      By the way, God healed my spine within 2 minutes of prayer (after I ruined it because of many years of lifting heavy weights at work). When some prayed for me it got hot and stretched within my body, pressed against my skull. I have never had any lower back issue since.
      I think all those atheists have never experienced God's power and presence. There is not much you can argue about once you have experienced supernatural intervention.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Get some professional help, or take a FUCKING LOGIC CLASS! (caps used for emphasis).

      October 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • jungleboo

      In the evolutionary model, single celled organisms who enveloped or joined other single celled organisms and began to co-operate with rather than destroy their host, well, they necessarily had to become empathetic of their new relationship, or end up being spun off the survival-of-the-fittest spiral merry-go-round. This empathy, which means "co-operate, do not destroy" is embedded in our cellular structure now. We cry when we see someone cry, we laugh when we see someone laugh. It is very easy to see cave people being bemused by this inner voice which guides them to understand their fellow cave dweller rather than constantly kill or be killed. Thus is religion born, as well as countless other suprst!tions. Science has had a good run for a few hundred years, and we now know a lot more about cellular co-operation and the Man in the Moon. Give religion the rest it very clearly deserves. Put it out to pasture along with the old gray mare, and admire the new automobile in the driveway.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      UGH NOT Tom the miracle man, AGAIN!!!!!! Tom, I gave you my e-mail and asked that you present me with more evidence of your miraculous healing, I ask again for that.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • JesusNotReligion

      WHATEVER...

      October 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  7. Clyde

    I'm more inclined to think that five in five Americans have no religion. St Francis of Assisi, St Thomas Aquinas, Mother Teresa, had religion. Barack Obama, Paul Ryan, Joel Osteen not so much.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • ken

      What about Mitt with his cult ?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  8. Reality Man

    All Religions and Gods were fabricated out of thin air through ignorance and fear of death.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • TheBob

      To be exact, all religions were rectally extracted.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Engineer

      Not quite true. Christianity is based off of an ancient Egyptian religion. The Egyptian religion was both a religion, and a method of astrological time keeping. It would take me days to type out the explanation of how the symbols of Christianity are direct copies of the ancient Egyptian religion.

      In any case, it's still all fictional characters meant to scare people into giving their wealth to a greater power.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  9. David from Nor Cal

    Religious ideas represent early attempts by mankind to explain the world around them. As with many early attempts, it was by and large a failure. Religious ideas have lead to some of the most destructive, ridiculous, and damaging actions and lines of thought in the history of our species.

    We can do better than these primative and hurtful ideas. As we abandon religion for logic, reason, critical thinking and the scientific method of analysis and action, our species will be far better for it.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • jungleboo

      The big mistake occurred some 3000 years ago when monotheism raised its ugly head, trampling on the rest of the world's polytheistic viewpoints. Had Polytheism maintained its foothold and not been strangled, we would have seen it easily step aside as the scientific method came into focus. After all, foregoing the god of the oceans or the god of the harvest or the god of the stars would have been easier to manage once scientific pursuits began explaining it all to us. But, have ONE GOD WHO CONTROLS OUR EVERY CELL AND ALL THE CRAYFISH TOO is a bit more problematic. Once you've bought that monkey, and have your ministers speak for HIM, the control thing is out of control. Hence, we are having these birth pangs.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  10. #1jesusFan

    So only one conclusion can be concluded from this article:

    it does not matter that one in five people do not have a religion.No,no,no.What REALLY matters is that their Faith is CHRISTIAN!!!!!!!!

    people NEED Christ JESUES in their life,All other religions are created by SATAN to fool with your head,

    THIS article is missing the point.Having a Jewish or Muslim faith is still like having NO FAITH.The only ONE TRue faith is CHRISTIANITY!!

    October 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Are you a poe or just insane?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • === o ===

      Congratulations! You are our 100th Idiot of the Day Winner!

      Please pick up your free bottle of Holy water as you exit.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Rationalist

      You sound like a raving lunatic, foaming at the mouth. Just sayin'.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Ting

      You know I was thinking the same thing. I don't know how they could've left that part out.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • TheBob

      Who the hell is "JESUES"? Satan's rival brother? Or sister?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • End Religion

      i draw the conclusion that a comment's truth is in direct proportion to the number of exclamation marks used in it.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • TheBob

      I think you mean in inverse proportion.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Nixon2

      Everything is a Poe for Hawaiiguest, what a fool.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Nixon2

      Oh my how incredibly witty to call me a fool. How did you ever come up with such an amazing name to call me. I suppose we should all bow down to your skill.
      /sarcasm

      October 9, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • End Religion

      thebob, let me speak more plainly because i may have it wrong: I meant "the more exclamation marks a comment has the more truth it has" And then I used no exclamation marks, making my own statement not so true, thereby implying exclamation marks don't make something more true. It seems I failed miserably.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  11. Jeremy

    I'm curious to hear why people in this forum don't like religion or do not believe in God. Have you made up your own mind or has someone taught you this.....full disclosure...I'm a Christian. Please be honest with me.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I was a christian for many decades. A minister for many years. Kept reading the bible and finding it lacking. Eventually, I realized there were no good, logical reasons to believe. I've been an atheist for about 7 years now.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • End Religion

      lol, you're on page 75 of the reasons. Feel free to go back and do a little reading...

      October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Well, I've read a bunch of insults back and forth...but I'm looking for honest discussion.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Observer

      Jeremy,

      “It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
      – Mark Twain

      October 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Epica

      I was raised in a Christian household...well my mother was. My father never went and then I started to realize while I was at church bored out of my mind, my father was at home sleeping in or just doing stuff around the yard. That provided a greater appeal to me. The thing that sealed the deal was the waste of time and getting up early. I was atheist for a while just because I did not really know what else I wanted. I just knew I did not want to waste my time as I perceived it in church. Later I just stopped caring all together as I had better things to do. I don't think I have been back to church since I was 14 or 15 and I have no desire to.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Moby, why did you give up on Christianity?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • good one

      Do your-self a favour.Google Hitchens,Dawkins or Sam Harris for a little enlightenment.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      See my original answer. It hasn't changed in the last 10 minutes. :)

      October 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Jeremy

      And the reason why I'm asking is I truly want to listen to want other have to say.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • bmac3130

      Jeremy I grew up n rligion and was a pastor for thirteen years. I left the church and religion behind. I did so because I saw religion as hurting people more than it helps them. The judgment, hatred, and fanaticism I saw is scary.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Your right, Moby. Sorry. I read it again.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Jeremy, I was born in the Bible Belt, and was for the first twenty years of my life a devout Christian. Then, I went to college and did something that Martin Luther once said was the worst thing a Christian could do, I got educated. That led to reading and discussions with others, it led to my asking questions about everything. No one Taught me to be an atheist, but because my parents were Christian, someone taught me to be a Christian, and against my will, I might add.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Jeremy, Further, I began to question why people thought the earth was only six thousand years old, and that evolution was wrong in the eyes of many Christians. In the end, I could not find anything that would or could lead me to the conclusion that a god has ever existed. And, before you ask, I am NOT angry at god or religion or my parents, I am all the better for knowing the truth, and for having learned about the bible, so that I can defend my position on religion as well as anyone.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Rationalist

      Moby Schtick gives me hope for America. Kudos to you, sir.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Mike

      The reason I do not like churches is that the people that run them say they speak for God and most of them are hipocrates. Just look at the child abuse in the Catholic church. Where is the protection of the childern, no where but the protection of the church is every where. That is why I do not like religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • David Stone

      Was raised Catholic....was an altar boy...studied the bible as a daily class for years.....grew up.....then started to stand back and question things...to apply logic.....and now here I am, a solid agnostic leaning heavily towards atheism.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Rationalist

      The fastest way to become an atheist is to read the Bible. And I mean the whole thing, cover to cover, not just the PG-rated material. There's trash in there that'll make a snuff film producer blush.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Bob

      Well, Jeremy, the short answer would be: we don't believe in any god for the same reasons you don't believe in Zeus. Ask yourself why you don't believe in Zeus or Thor and you'll pretty much know why atheists don't believe in any god. Remember, you are atheist too when it comes to most of the gods, the atheists just went one god further.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Jeremy

      I'm appreciating the honest answers. Let's keep it up and let people speak their mind.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • End Religion

      Ah, you're looking for individual stories. Tough to have a real discussion. Comments get bumped too quickly. There are so many people posting the same bad logic that we need to move on and refute them as fast as we can.

      Personally raised Protestant. I sang the songs, learned the fiction. Forced to go until 13. No more after that. Never once remember believing in any of it. It was all so transparently fake to me. The people who claimed the most piety seemed the most ugly inside.

      I am however an ordained minister in the Church of Beer. I legally married a friend and his gal a few years back. Religion is a fraud.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Pete

      I was raised as a Roman Catholic. It was drilled into me that the word of God was sacrosanct. Then as I grew older and started to question my beliefs it became more and more apparent that what I thought was the word of god was merely a collection of laws carefully chosen by religious leaders to fit their view of the world. I began to wonder who gave them the authority to decide that parts of the bible were no longer applicable. At this stage I started to suspect that the entire Catholic church was a massive scam. Priests molesting small children for the own earthly pleasures obviously had no fear of an afterlife of retribution. As an adult I cannot say that I see any evidence that gods exists. No more so than people who believe in ghosts, re-incarnation or past lives. I can see why it is important for some people to believe and I do not consider it my right or my duty to change their mind. If they want to believe in whatever flavour of god or gods that give them comfort in their life then good for them. But I myself, and by extension my children, are all atheists. I will say this though my parents have pointed out that it's much easier raising children as atheists than it is raising them in a religion. We don't have to make up any crazy logic such as "To question the word of god shows a lack of faith – and god asks that we have faith in him – and that's why god doesn't prove he exists". It's much easier to say "There are no such things as gods they are the figments of very clever imaginations dating back tens of thousands of years before mankind could explain why the sun rose every morning and why the snows melted in springtime." I know my parents struggled with explaining why the Romans and Greeks were silly to believe in their gods – but we were somehow smarter because our invisible super-being was real. Life is easier as an Atheist parent.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I was brought up in the Lutheran church; my mother was a faithful Christian, and she walked the walk, unlike many of the charlatans I've met. I began to lose faith when members of the church I joined as an adult tried to persuade me to forgo recommending a new minister of music who happened to be gay. Encountering zealots here and elsewhere who want to force others to give up the rights they have under law because "their" god doesn't approve of abortion or gay marriage has driven me further from any interest in religion or a god.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  12. End Religion

    "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."

    The future generation is almost 50% non-believers. They will pass that rational disbelief on to their children, to combine with all the other religious defectors who come to their senses. Religion is on the ropes, concentrating down into just the craziest of the crazies. If we can survive that then humanity will be set for a new period of enlightenment.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • David Stone

      Very well thought out, and stated. It's a dying phase of humanity. We just need to survive the desperation of the true nutjobs, ehem, I mean, believers.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • jaxr127

      Nope , you read it wrong. It still said that about 2/3 of millennials are religious.
      It said that of the percent that are unaffiliated, 42% are atheist or agnostic. That is completely different

      October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Tom

      Only fools believe that there is no God.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Hey Tom, do you read the bible? I hear there is a special place in Hades for people who call other people fools.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • End Religion

      Like I said, and the poll clearly shows, the future generation is almost 75% non-believers.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  13. jaxr127

    Just because they are unaffiliated doesnt mean they are all athiests. In fact the majority of them are not

    October 9, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      yep. If they read the article or looked at the survey data they would understand that.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • End Religion

      They may not all be atheists. That takes courage. People are weak. But one thing's clear - they packed their bags and they're leaving Churchtown, USA. They are on the road that leads to sweet, sweet atheism.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • JJ

      But American Christians think that the opposite of atheism is Christianity, not theism. You see, they can't conceive of any other belief system but their own. This is part of the illness.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • jaxr127

      Ok but the survey still shows that only about 5% of adult Americans are atheist or agnostic.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yep, 5.5% are atheist + agnostic.

      Up from 4% in 2007. Few are willing to self-identify as atheists.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  14. Clinton

    Maybe the reason so many folks on here are attacking me is because they don't understand my beliefs. I am a Christian. I do believe in the Bible. I also believe in Freedom and Science and free thought. I don't believe the Bible was written by God but by Men trying to explain their experiences the best they could. I believe in the Morals and Values provided by the Bible and I do believe in an all powerful Spirit.
    I am a Left leaning independent Politically... I believe Gays can Marry if they want to because this is America and the greatest thing about it is, As long as you're not hurting anyone you can choose to live your life any way you want.
    I do believe in Science and many of its theories, i just happen to have a different opinion about how we got here. I do not believe science has any evidence of a lack of God, Rather Science endeavours to discover how he pulled it off. We know so little even still...
    I don't believe in opressing free speech or free thought and if you want to be an Atheist, Mormon, Jew, Satanist, i don't care, that's your right... I am not your judge, only the All-mighty can judge, and no i don't believe that everybody who's not a Christian bible thumper is going to hell. I just know it's not my call and i won't try to act like it... These are my beliefs... I'm a modern Christian and that's probably why you guys are confusing the heck out of me while telling me exactly what my religion means and what i supposedly believe.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • atheist84

      I think if most people were like you we would live in a much more peaceful world...

      October 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • jaxr127

      @atheist84 most Christians are like this. Most Christians care about what others do or believe. It's just the far right

      October 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Felix

      that's the smartest thing I've heard any religious person say.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • jungleboo

      The only reason you are being "attacked' is the energy you are putting on this blog through your posts. If you come across as dogmatic and insisting that atheists are a "religion", then you deserve very barb coming your way. You have made this claim, posing as someone who deems to know, when in fact , you don't. You are not misunderstood. You actually do not write from a position of self-awareness. That's the dogmatic part of you, following someone else's conclusions, absolving yourself of following the logic to its rational end. And re-framing Christianity, becoming evermore "modern", doesn't cut it, because that definition ends up being meaningful to only yourself. The rest of humanity is left looking at your mask, which has Christian written all over it. And we know what that means, from experience. BTW, I was born and raised Catholic, chose seminary training, and woke up to the fraud at the tender age of 20.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Clinton, then you and I are NOT that far off in who we are, with the tiny exception of the belief in a god. As I said before, I have many friends who are religious, and many who are not, and we all get along very well. Most of us were born and grew up in the Bible Belt South. I have, however, been disowned by my own father and brothers and sister because of my atheism, but that's their loss, not mine.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      I think you're being attacked because you keep spewing straight up lies about athiesm and you clearly don't understand what being an atheist is if you keep grouping us as a "religion" or a type of "belief".

      You might be having a tough go at it because although it's great you believe all that stuff, it really is, some of it's incompatible and sometimes it's up to people like me to point out that you are simply employing doublethink in order to hold on to your beliefs.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Jax, I'm not sure that it's only the Far Right, however. I am often amazed at the reaction I get from people when they find out that I am an atheist, some of them are downright funny, and some are sad or scary. These people will suddenly become a different person toward me, even though I may have been helping them for years. But, I agree that a great deal of the Christians I encounter simply want to live their lives in peace and believe as they wish, which is fine with me.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Clinton

      Collegeadmission – I am so sorry to hear that, I am... I would love my child no matter how he felt, and believe me, I disagree with your Family's feelings on that, if you don't believe in God that's your belief. Love undconditional is what we're supposed to learn from God, who in our belief system is the father, and according to our standards he would not turn his back on his son so how anybody could do so, i will never know... I hope they come around some day but as you said if they don't, it's their loss.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  15. Jesse

    I would surmise if one spoke open and honestly the number would be around 50% of the US is non-religious and probably less than 25% is Strongly religious.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • David Stone

      Agreed completely. Most people feel (from societal pressure) embarrassed to admit they don't go to church, and don't even believe in invisible sky spirits. Kind of like a large survey asking people if they are racist. Of course most all will SAY they are not, but we all know that most people do have a certain amount of racism....they just don't admit it to random strangers.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • jaxr127

      You are simply going off what you believe, with know data to prove that

      October 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Paul G.

      Jesse; I like what Albert Einstein said, and I quote: "the word god is nothing more than an expression and product of human weakness, and the bible a collection of honorable, but primitive legends."

      October 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Bear

      You clearly don't live in the South.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  16. diane

    CNN does the Belief Blog so that it can appear to be something it is not, like all good rebellious strongholds. See biblos.com for true info on God, Jesus and the truth. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The blog is a political tool as is all of CNN.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • David Stone

      Fear of gawd sets you free and enlightens you huh? Do you realize how stupid it sounds to say that enlightenment comes from fear?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  17. JubJub

    Liberal media at work again. Why not a 4 out of 5 Americans has a religion headline? And how does 33 million out of 313 million come out to 1 in 5? For all the religion bashers out there, maybe you'd prefer Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao? No? Be careful what you wish for!

    October 9, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • David Stone

      I would prefer we evolve past invisible sky fairies and move into a little more rational time.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Paul G.

      What that number tells me is that there a a lot more people in our country that are a hell of a lot more educated and informed than you. Gives one reason for hope !!

      October 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Ting

      Atheists don't want to see religion outlawed. We just want you to keep church at church.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • JubJub

      Wow, atheists are so intelligent and enlightened! Oh wait, you can't be enlightened or intelligent since you're just a chemical reaction, and a temporary one at that. Plus your comment was dumb.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Bear

      Because the headline describes the trend and the trend is more non-religious, not the other way around. It has ALWAYS been 8 out of 10 people having religion, in fact, it was more. The fact it is DOWN to 8 out of 10 is the story and the trend is speeding up is the story.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  18. kenny

    most religious people don't ACT religious and most non-religious people don't ACT non-religious... if you feel threatened or upset that fewer people share your faith... YOU DON'T HAVE FAITH... if you are happy more people believe what you do, you DON'T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE ...

    October 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Bear

      That's cute, but not actually accurate.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  19. Sandra

    When I hear and read absurdities from leaders of major religious organizations, I don't think it's any wonder that people in the modern world are saying "none" when asked their religion. When I hear/read the ignorance that people insist that book of ancient fables, stories stolen from even older cultures (aka the bible), is literally true, even when I know the contradictions and inconsistencies, again, it's no wonder that thinking people just say no.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  20. David Stone

    Going to church today seems to be largely a "social" thing. It's about putting the window sticker on, being part of a crowd, fitting in, etc., as much or more than it is about invisible sky fairies or the invisible sky daddy guide book.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
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About this blog

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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.