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.
Of course both are imaginary beings, but the true story is Satan is GOOD and God is EVIL. Satan tapped God on the shoulder and asked God please don't flood the earth and kill all those innocent children. God answered and said "Bra ha ha ha! I am allmighty god and can do what I want. It would please me to see those babies drown in agony! Bra ha ha ha!". Satan said "that's wack, dude! You are one cruel, sick, evil monster". So Satan left heaven and promised to help mankind against the evil imaginary God. Then one day all the people grew up and realized God and Satan are both imaginary and they went away hand in hand as boyfriends forever. That is after God asked Satan's forgiveness for all of the mean spiteful things he did. The End.
For proof God is Imaginary visit http://www.godisimaginary.com
God is love, of all.
Rory hasn't read the Bible.
Ting I have
Brad, I only briefly visited the site. Does the site address anything outside of Abrahamic religion or deity?
Yup rory .. God(s) love me soooo much I'll be sent to hell to burn for eternity if I don't worship him/them. that's a lotto love right there!
Ting you must not take whatever Brad says above as truth. God is love is the only truty. May God bless you Ting
If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses, please forgive me if you think I have judged you..
1 in 5 are not member of any religion would make more sense since only few percentage of those are actually atheists or agnostics.
Not having a religious preference doesn't mean you don't believe in God or are not Christian. It just means that you recognize that churches are the business end of religion.
It's also OK not to believe in God(s) or christianity .. so you don't need to make an "acceptable" excuse for not being religious.
To everyone searching for answers...folllow your parents.
No. Well if you are dependent on your parents, then yes, but otherwise that is the worst advice ever. But in any event, always respect them.
Seriously when nonreligious sees image of Christ and cross, don't you feel guilty for denying him when he died for your sins?
I he had died, Christians would say he is dead now.
typo: should be "If he had died"
Observer, what's your evidence for this?
Not in the slightest.
Seriously .. as guilty as you feel denying Zeus, Ra, Thor or John Frum! Think about it ..
About as guilty as you feel about denying every other religion, plus one.
Christians are always saying that Jesus still exists.
Yes, they do, but that is no evidence that they would admit if he were just dead.
Nope, I never asked him to, IF he existed at all...
@Gadflie "Yes, they do, but that is no evidence that they would admit if he were just dead."
Immediately after the crucifixion, the earliest followers of Jesus all believed that He was dead. There was absolutely 0 expectation of a Messiah being ignobly killed by Roman authorities.
It was the actual resurrection that convinced them otherwise, they did not start out thinking that.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus Luke 24
That's a fun passage from a fictional work. But, here's an interesting question for you. What are the requirements to be considered a Christian? Be specific please.
It's hard to feel sympathy for a fictional character... though I might have teared up a bit at the end of Bambi.
@Gadflie "What are the requirements to be considered a Christian? Be specific please."
=understand the reality that you are a sinner, hopelessly estranged from the God of Abraham and that God has made provision for reconciliation – Jesus.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10
The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." John 6
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15
Thank you Chad, now, by your own definition "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.", those who claimed that Jesus was dead weren't actually Christians. So, my earlier statement stands unrefuted.
@Gadflie "Thank you Chad, now, by your own definition "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.", those who claimed that Jesus was dead weren't actually Christians. So, my earlier statement stands unrefuted."
=>ah.. lol interesting point...
– it is impossible to be a Christian and not believe in a resurrected Christ
– if Jesus was not resurrected, there is no Christianity.
– early disciples believed He was dead, and were only convinced otherwise following resurrection appearances.
which makes your point a double win, a bit of a semantic win for you.. and a good theological review for Christians :-)
There is nothing "semantic" about it. Even you should be able to clearly see this. And, it is about as much of a win for Christians as it is a "win" for Rastafarians to pretend that Haile Selassie didn't actually die. Delusions are really not a victory.
I'm 100% sure that if atheists were kidnapped or sitting on an airplane and the plane on the way going down, they will pray to God. Don't fool yourself and lie to us. We know that you secretly pray sometimes because you know it works if you have faith and trust God.
You are confusing "believing" and "hoping".
and you'd be 100% wrong .. but if thinking that makes you feel more secure, go for it.
I'm not an atheist, but I'm 100% sure you're wrong. People have a choice of what they want to believe in, and to their credit, right or wrong, many people will stand by their decision.
Prayer has never worked. That has been demonstrated by a number of studies.
Stop lying to the kids again and do something useful.
No such thing as an atheist in a fox hole..
Was watching Piers Morgan interview Richard Branson a while ago.. portion of that interview:
MORGAN: Do you ever - do you ever pray?
BRANSON: I found myself on one of my balloon trips, where, you know, I was 99 percent definitely going to die crossing the Pacific. Everything had gone wrong that could go wrong. It seemed to be no way out of it. And I think there was a little bit of sort of, saying - you know if you exist, you know I'll be really grateful if you can get me to the other side of the Pacific. And -
MORGAN: And despite the fact that you survived that, Richard, with your .1 percent, you still don't believe?
so, branson was in deep doo-doo, prayed to God, got out of trouble, then went right back to being an atheist..
Your failure of logic is well documented.
Why is it that people who are religious can be so intolerant of other people's beliefs? Just because a person does not think or believe that same things that you do does not make them any worse or less of a person. It seems very against the teachings of most religions, and all major ones, to judge and hate people over something so trivial. If people stopped caring about what religion you belonged to, and started worrying about what is right, the world would be a MUCH better place.
@John "It seems very against the teachings of most religions, and all major ones, to judge and hate people"
@Chad "certainly some of my fellow Christians, and I myself at times, cross over the line and get angry.
However, that is not the norm.
"We" dont "judge" you. We observe that you, like me, are a sinner, and as you (like myself) are going to be judged by God, are in desperate need of a savior.
God doesnt hate the sinner, but He hates the sin.
@John: "over something so trivial. If people stopped caring about what religion you belonged to, and started worrying about what is right, the world would be a MUCH better place."
@Chad "A. eternity is not trivial, in any way shape or form.
B. you cant use the term "right", it implies an absolute standard. As a moral relativist, you can only discuss your opinion.
C. Mankind can not improve on this creation, if we should have by now learned anything, it is that we are hopelessly broken.
It's funny how atheists always make the number very high but then when it comes to religious and Christians in general they make the number smaller
It's funny how Mensa doesn't accept everyone.
Sorry people... Us Christians will no longer be peaceful and "loving" towards atheists anymore because we've tried being nice and tolerant but unfortunately it's helping out and we noticed that they bash our religion more and more.
So we will no longer pray for you, and go F#UCK OFF all nonbelievers in the holy Bible!
Yes, that'll show us what you are all about, for sure....
blaspheming against the holy spirit?
Don't Feed It.
Fuck off yourself. Your prayers are useless anyway. Don't wear out your knees on my account.
It's become very apparent IGWT is getting a troll stiffie .. and it's kinda freaking me out.
"go F#UCK OFF all nonbelievers in the holy Bible!"
Is that even physically possible? I mean how do you do it "in the holy Bible"?
I love the irony. Someone who professes the handle: "† In God We Trust †" yet says such things.
Jesus is watching you know. He'll put you on the 'naughtly list.
That's a shame. We all know that prayer changes things.
In God We're Blind: NO ONE CARES IF YOU'RE A CHRISTIAN. Enjoy!! You F off. Then we'll all be happy. You have no proof whatsoever that the Bible holds any truth. Why? Because there isn't any proof to support the fairy tales that lie within, and you're a human being just like everyone else. If you are into it, so what? You can believe whatever you want as long as it doesn't hurt me or infringe on what I believe.
very droll. Most amusing!
Einstein first dismissed George LeMaitre's mathematical explanation of the origin of the universe called the Big Bang Theory. Following Hubble's discovery, Einstein changed his position to affirm LeMaitre
LeMaitre was educated in physics and mathematics, but was first and foremost a Jesuit priest that believed in God. His scientific explorations never diminished, but rather affirmed, his beliefs.
And your point is?
Indoctrination is a very difficult thing to break away from .. even for a physicist apparently. BTW, it didn't change Einstien's mind about religion.
It's most certainly a sign of fear and uncertainly about ones own position, when you find yourself incapable of believing that a thinking, intelligent, rational person could hold a different one.
I'm so happy we successfully moved towards theocracy past few decades. Our God is put in public money, we are favored by the government, we vote for Christian only presidents and much more. Thank God for the 40% Evangelicals living in America.
19% Evangelicals, but that's OK, I know you have a difficult time with math.
The people who founded our country didn't want religious mottos on our money.
Thankfully, that seems to be changing – for the better.
For me, I often wonder what my community or our nation would be like if religion was far removed. How wonderful it would be to advance at a faster pace since we wouldn't have religious groups combating our discoveries. How wonderful it would be to not have to hear some poor fool passionately cry out foul-play because his/her invisible friend has set certain commands unto him/her. How wonderful it would be to finally have a sense of equality for all, as rights to woman, gay or lesbian, color or whatever will be extended without prejudice. How wonderful it would be to be amongst highly educated children, as they will be taught from today's known knowledge base without it being watered down to appease the religious. I often wonder...
does that mean we have no need for morals and where did they come from anyway?
Come to Vancouver, its secular all the way
Yes, life would be easier without morals to interfere.
Dost Thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger?
dave; then the fellow from Penn.State should be released? and the catholic priests have nothing to answer for?
Sorry justme, sarcasm. Society stems from morality, without it, everything would descend into chaos. And where do we receive our morality, does the government give it to us, is it arbitrary, or is it a higher law? I think we all know the answer, whether or not we agree on where that law comes from.
To all of you whom state that religion is responsible for morals. Seriously? Morality is a human condition. Think about it. We no longer have slavery. Why? Not because of the bible. Actually, Jesus in the new testament even states slavery is great. Not to mention the many of moral attributes we now have compared to a hundred, even a thousand years ago. Such as; Women have equal rights. We don't stone our women and children anymore. And, many more moral attributes have changed... We have morals because it is a survival tool. In essence we do unto others as we want done unto us. Not to mention, the penalties involved in doing harm unto others... So get your head out of your a** and think about that before you make such a foolish comment like this. Thanks.
i am so glad you just proved we have a God that loves us and solved a lot of arguments that i have seen here.
What moral philosophy do you subscribe to Karin?
we learned to do unto others from where?
Dave; I have never compared my own thoughts of morality with any other. In a nut shell, for me, I prefer to be as honest as possible, and to treat others kindly and respectful. Basically, I enjoy seeing people smile.
justme, Jesus probably stole it from the Egyptians. Thousands of years before Jesus they said "Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you"
karin and dave; i have to go now but if you want to learn what the bible really teaches contact Jehovah's Witnesses and they will teach you the truth of the bible for free.you will love it and thank me later. I will check back in the A.M.
gad; it will help you also.
I understand that religious individuals are driven to spread their belief. As I once was religious and I remember that golden rule. Today and after 23 years, I am an atheist. There is absolutely no way (at all) that I will believe in a god(s) from reading literature. Especially literature written by goat herders of an iron age that would find my intellect mentally challenging. The absolute (only) reason I would (consider) the (possibility) of there being a god(s) if there was (substantial) evidence. At this time, there is absolutely no evidence (anywhere). Only lots and lots of different bibles and over a million religions with about 14,000 christian denominations. Until one of these groups figures out which god holds supreme and holds substantial evidence of said god(s), I will remain an atheist. After all, being an atheist is actually, from my perceptive, the most honest approach. As I clearly do not subdue to blind faith. I am off. It is late. Have a nice evening.
Help me how exactly? To share your delusion? I'll pass.
karin; if you look back here, i just want you to know that i felt as you at one time and i wish you would look into what i talked about earlier. i will check back later to see if you are interested or have any questions. so important. thanks for the interchange. j
I'm going to wear bigger cross just to bug out intolerant atheists :)
How about a cross tattoo on your forehead? That would really get to them.
Let me know if you need a hand banging those nails in.
Wear it internally and feel really holy.
Knock yourself out LOL ;)
Doesn't bug me out.
I don't believe in god/hate god, and I wear crosses right side up.
A lot of non-Christian's do.
Christianity is supposed to come from the heart, and not a worthless necklace I hear. lol
If you really want them to get the message then I would have a cross branded onto your ass and then go into work wearing a thong. Trust me, it'll work.
Yeah, you call THEM intolerant while simultaneously acting like a d-bag, pledging to buy idols just to anger them. They're probably more Christian than you are... if a person's Christianity were to be judged by their behavior, you'd be a Satanist.
Your cross simply says "simpleton," so it's no bother. I don't spend too much time on adults who blindly embrace fairy tales.
and why would you think that would bother anyone?
I am an atheist. And, I am not offended in the least upon seeing a cross. It is just an object similar in form to the letter T. In fact, I don't take any offense at all by the religious, unless they use their (faith based) beliefs to govern my community and/or our nation and of course attempt to preach to me. I am sure you have heard this before; You are an atheist for every god outside of your own. The only difference between me and you, is I include one more god, your god.
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men." Matthew 6:5. Same applies to wearing big crosses.
1-3% of Americans should be exported or put in concentration camp
How loving and completely "Christ-like" of you. And you wonder why people are rejecting belief.
They leave and reject God, guess what – They will burn in hell fire. Big deal!
I'll bet you are so stupid you don't even get the difference between "exported" and "deported," do you?
You must have a mental age of about 3.
Oh I see like Romney's self-deportation. How original.
Hitler and God. Had a lot in common it would seem. Both loved carnage to no end!
Be afraid, be very afraid!
The thing to fear the most is religion, and the effect it has on your mind!
Just another Christian HYPOCRITE who ignores the Golden Rule.
This must be that hateful TBT character. You should be ashamed of yourself. Passing judgment on people and always talking like you know what your god is thinking. (And I know plenty enough Christianity to know you rarely follow Jesus' lessons here.)
Let me guess... you have a high school education and you either work in retail or don't have a job at all. You sound like a real "99%er" to me.
it is certainly the "Atheists are ... " troll that also goes by @Evangelical Christian and @!.
I strongly suspect that this is also @tbt, prayer-bot and @Nope who are almost certainly all one individual – a veritable trinity of hatefulness.
You're obviously not a Christian. You're probably an atheist wanting to get people even more riled up at religious people.
Hey there, this is God speaking. I won't be able to answer the phone, for I AM out on a prolonged vaca.
I'll be sending my son on another spacey-ship back down to earth reeeal soon to burn a bunch of your children like I have so many times before! PEACE OUT!
The author of this nonsense article is 100% atheist. No wonder why there's bigotry
...and? Your theory is satan made him do it?
And you're 100% stupid. Try to figure out how your posts prove it.
This article came from a POLL, not just one person's opinion. Try reading it next time.
So .. you think someone can be 43% or 72% or 4% Atheist? I don't think you know what Atheist means..
believe or not
religion is man made
at a certain point man no longer needs governing, taxes, tidings, religion, race, money, genocide, war, kings or presidents
to bad it will take another thousand years before humans realize that
At which time anarchy and chaos will rule the day. Face facts...... human beings just are not capable of 100% altruism. We like killing each other too much.
1 in 5 Americans has no religion. In other news: 1 in 5 Americans has Genital Herpes. Coincidence?
Oh that's clever of you. Hint – don't give up your day job for comedy.
no coincidence. Atheists have more sex.
One in ten Americans is too stupid to figure out when to use capital letters. One in ten Americans is working at a minimum-wage job. Coincidence or just desserts?
Don't forget that 1 in 5 Americans weren't molested by their priest or pastor.
Actually 1 in 4 have herpes. I'm sure they would have told you that at the clinic.
From a personnel perspective, I couldn't care less if someone believes or not. It certainly is not a reason to be killing people over. But history tells a different story doesn't it? Again from a personnel perspective, killing someone over a religious matter, blasphemy, or Bible burning, etc, is about as crazy as killing someone because they do not believe in the Easter Bunny. Nobody can prove either exist or ever existed. Simply because somebody said they existed, doesn't mean they did. As such it is lunacy to kill someone over religion. That is about all I care about in the religious arena. The rest is just a lot hooey. You want to give your money to a Church, or a religion, be my guest.
Here is TRUTH:
Man created God in his own image, not the other way around. Therefore, God is imaginary. 50 reasons that prove god is imaginary at http://www.godisimaginary.com
We don't need 50 or 100 or a million reasons proving God(s) doesn't exist .. because there isn't even 1 reason to think God(s) does exist.
Yes brad, I agree if we are talking about the god of Abraham. I have different ideas though on diety/deities possibilities, so I have to remain agnostic, but only because of those ideas.
33 million Americans have no religion. The population of the United States is 312 million people. Thus 10.6% (or 1 in 10) of Americans have no religion.
CNN states 1 in 5 (or 20%) of Americans have no religion. Is CNN telling the truth?
No, they are not telling the truth.
must be the 6th time we've had to tell you kids weren't included
Since this survey only includes adults, children would have to be subtracted from 312 million to arrive at the correct percentage. Therefore, this is probably pretty accurate.
Ok, let's remove those persons under 18 years of age from the count. That leaves 238 million adults in the United States. Thus, 13.8% of Americans have no religious affiliation. That is still not 1 in 5.
This article also uses weasel words like "no religious affiliation" to inflate the numbers, even though 68% of those with "no religious affiliation" still believe in God. This means that only 32% of 13.8% of Americans do not believe in God (or 4.4%).
So 4.4% of Americans do not believe in God. This means that 95.6% of Americans DO believe in God.
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.