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.
1-God is shapeless and don't come as different avatars.
2-He is fearless,and does not scare or punish people.
3-Earth is created by God through evolution.It is not created like a house in certain days or months.
4-God can not be found in buildings.Working and living honestly and sharing n caring is a worship in itself.
5-You can not make God happy by fake rituals like fasting,sacrifices etc etc
6-Stated 5– yrs ago that there are millions of galaxies,when people were still fighting over if earth is round or flat or sun revolves around earth or vice versa.
7-God does not do miracles.
8-Only those suffer who breaks the law of the nature as God does not give personal vendetta against anyone.Same like a traffic law,if you are following it then the cop does not give you ticket or you don't get into an accident.
9-Voiced for women rights 500 yrs ago
10-Don't fear God,Just LOVE GOD.
11. God is make believe, like santa claus and the tooth fairy. please disregard 1-10.
Condolences on what happened at your temple in Oak Creek, Guru. Every religion should have the freedom to pursue its own particular flavor of insanity in peace and safety.
How many of you are from European Countries on this board tonight?
This trend makes sense, and in a lot of ways, has been predicted for a substantial amount of time.
Religion, in its essence, is man's way of "bridging the gaps" in our understanding of the universe. So one might argue that as our empirical knowledge increases, it would naturally follow that our reliance on the "old ways" would decrease accordingly.
Yeah, the "gaps" are closing or disappearing as our understanding of nature increases.
That's the problem with the "God of the gaps" – He gets incrementally smaller with every increase in knowledge.
so it's a religion of concrete material instead of a religion of the abstract? Are you sure that Science can answer ALL of life's questions....even after centuries of "empirical study" pass? Are you sure that religion, particularly Christianity, has absolutely no realm of empirical study to it?
Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.
kateU, No, Yes.
Nah, disagree. Two generations removed from agrarian lifestyle, and in the same period immersed in mediated understanding of nature and society, Americans have never been more ignorant of experiential knowledge concerning the world. You live in a virtual world full of virtual word, number and image games. In many ways you live in greater ignorance than medieval Europeans under the catholic church. At least they made their own things, and food. When was the last time you made anything more than a snarky comment?
You have just inadvertently high lighted the basic premise behind the value of science > religion:
Science acknowledges that it DOESN'T have all of the answers, but the pursuit of said answers is the driving force behind every significant advancement in the history of our species.
This is the danger of religion, it often seeks to establish a sense of "intellectual complacency", instead of inspiring curiosity, which is a necissary precursor for our progress as a species.
In effect, your argument is comparable to forfeiting a game 5 minutes into the 1st quarter.
To illustrate my point, let's assume you and I are walking together when we come upon a quarter on the sidewalk in front of us. Neither of know exactly how it came to rest in that specific spot, but based on prior empirical observation, we can come up with some of the most likely chains of events that could have been behind it. Will we ever be able to prove with 100% certainty that it was likely dropped by a human as they walked on the same sidewalk? No, of course not – but it's an infinitely more plausible explanation than "I don't know, must be magic".
Kate, we may not ever be able to "know everything" based on science, but I think it is no coincidence that modern science has developed in roughly the last 200 years, and the vast majority of our understanding of life and the universe has been figured out in the last 200 years. So far, science has an unsurpassed track record. Can't really say the same for religion.
This has got to be the most uplifting thing I have heard in a long time. America is finally starting to free itself of the shackles of religion. People are actually using their brains and not just following the sheep of their communities. This is a small victory for humanity.
Gods knows everything, as he knows i am picking my nose right now and where I will wipe it off (under the chair). He also knows whether i willend up in heaven or hell, even before i was even born, so if it's hell, why put me here on earth to pick my nose.
Maybe he has kind of a sick sense of humor
Stop picking boogers, and pick a savior instead. Mine created pleasure and damnation. I was sold.
Americans ae more confused now, thats what this polls show..
the enemies of reason cannot be tolerated any more.
Representative Paul Broun (Georgia Republican) "God’s word is true," Broun said, according to a video posted on the church’s website. "I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior."
Broun also said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days. Those beliefs are held by fundamentalist Christians who believe the creation accounts in the Bible to be literally true.
the funniest part of this story??? He sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
people like this – who suffer from delusional thinking should NOT be allowed to vote, hold public office, purchase firearms or teach public school.
enough is enough – the mentally ill who profess religious beliefs should be kept at arms length where they can do the least harm.
Yeah, I've heard of this guy. Truly frightening.
oh that's depressing.
Thank you AnViL, for so unabashedly expressing exactly what I feel.
enough is enough....
i'd just like for someone to explain to me why, precisely – we should respect delusional thinking in the 21st century.
why on earth should we allow people like this to be a part of ANY decision making process???
this man – and those who support him – and think like him – should be tarred and feathered.. and those who support this type of delusional thinking should be made to feel ashamed for being so ignorant.
religious thinking needs to be pushed back into the dark closets it belongs in – and every time it rears its ugly head in public – it should be laughed down and persecuted to the fullest extent of science.
religious thinking has done nothing to unify humanity – in fact – the only thing it's done is produce more division in a world with enough problems as it is.
it's time for atheists to band together and take up the sword of anti-theism.
those still struggling with childish religious beliefs retard progress in an alarming way – and there's absolutely no room for it in the 21st century.
I don't think I agree that he shouldn't have the right to vote, but the fact that he sits on the House Science Committee is a pathetic embarrassment to our country, and an excellent reason why we can't stand by and watch as religious zealots undermine public education.
violence isn't an acceptable answer. Move to Georgia and work to get him voted out.
End Religion: "violence isn't an acceptable answer. Move to Georgia and work to get him voted out."
i agree – tarring and feathering has gone out of fashion... i used it as a metaphor for publicly shaming these people.
congress shouldn't be infested with this sort of thinking – and it's high time we started a sound intelligent movement to extricate it from our government.
public shame can be effective. Just be prepared that a large percentage of the audience will be as deluded as him. Good luck with your efforts.
AnViL (and any others who are interested), if you want to do something constructive consider getting involved with the National Center for Science Education. They are a pretty effective organization. Maybe check out their website.
When you say that people who "think like him – should be tarred and feathered," you seem to be saying that people who don't think like you should be tarred and feathered. What gives you the right to persecute others who don't agree with you, when I doubt very much that you would give them that right? Sorry, but people should indeed be allowed to vote, hold public office, purchase firearms and teach public school. (and do everything that you are allowed to do) even when they don't see things the same.
Christians and Atheists,
Who really cares what the trend is, one way or the other? If you think the trend is going in the opposite direction of what you believe, are you going to jump ship just for that reason? Are you going to stick to your principles, or decide your convictions by a popularity contest?
68% of those with no religious affiliation still believe in God, so only 32% of the 33 million (or 10.6 million) do not believe in God.
Assume that the study only considers American adults (those 18 years or older). The adult population of the United States is about 238 million people. 10.6 million is only 4.4% of America adults who do not believe in God.
Thus, 95.6% of U.S. adults DO believe in God.
Regardless of what whomever believes what, the fact of the matter is that God and all gods are imaginary. Everyone knows it's true, but only Atheists will speak it.
W W W
H H H
A A A
WHATEVER WHATEVER WHATEVER
E E E
V V V
E E E
R R R
"...the cross of Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing" 1 Corinthians 1:18
"Pilate replied (to Jesus) 'What is truth?'" John 18:38
"...to all who did received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." John 1:12-13
"And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever HAS the Son has life; whoever DOES NOT HAVE the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:11-13 (emphasis added)
Take Him or leave Him...Perhaps this is the night that one of you will be overcome by the love and forgiveness offered byJesus Christ.
Maybe tonight the Cross of Christ will, in someone's life, put to death the vain, hopeless worldview called "WHATEVER". The worldview that says "nothing ultimately matters because everything is one big accident, including me"...
I pray with all my heart that the Holy Spirit will move upon someone even now as I type. Someone who has come to an end of themselves by God's grace. Someone who is willing to, by God's Spirit, call upon the name of Jesus (not religion) to be saved...Someone who, by faith, will have the blood of the lamb of God, applied, as it were, to the doorposts and lintels of their life so that when the Angel of death is sent out at the end of the age, he will "see the blood and passover" this one who has repented and received the ransom paymemt of Jesus! Let it be, Lord....Let it be!
Scripture is pointless if the reader does not already subscribe to your beliefs.
Was it good for you, JNR?
That sort of thing really belongs in private, you know!
nojinx...not according to Scripture: For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and atttudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
To the rest of you unbelieving bloggernauts: Good night and good luck...and WHATEVER...Once again, you've all wasted a good chunk of your life tonight...unless you're getting paid to blog for CNN, which suspect some of you are...but WHATEVER, right?
How do you know any of this is true?
"Look, it says so right here in this book!"
How do you know the book is telling a true story?
"Because the characters in the book say so!"
Actually, the cult of Christ is foolishness to anyone who isn't brainwashed.
wow, quotes from a book. you don't get any more convincing than that, nosireee bob.
jnr: do you feel that quoting a book to those who do not accept the authority of the book is a good technique, or do you just want to feel all godly?
Arent there other religions beside Christianity last time I checked .Atheism which used to be a fundamental way of thinking has now become a religion itself. No longer is it a viewpoint that doesn't believe in any organized religion it is becoming more like the opposite of Christianity. I hate both Christianity and atheism its a pointless argument of non intelligence. Co existence is the only way civilization will progress let people believe or not believe there is no point in this menial argument on either side.
Calling atheism a religion is an insult, like calling a Red Sox fan a wannabe Yankee.
I certainly resonate with many aspects of the article. I know I'm the only one who's fallen overboard (as I say in one of my songs) from the "Ship of Religion."
Cuts to the heart of the philosophical difference between naturalism and faith – an acceptance of "what is" rather than an insistence upon "what should be."
Yes – I had to play a couple of times because the insert made me miss what he was saying, but very good. But what about what could be Rufus? (without the should and without any emotion about it)
Hitch is ___.
Cuts to the heart alright, or should I say pancreas.
I better shut up and do some homework. but I am excited after reading about Spinoza. I'm sure there must be a correlation to naturalism. But I need to learn some basics about creation theories I think (not creationism, but like cosmological theories ) to try to get to the bottom of some things. And you 2357 – you need to learn something – anything.
sorry, i don't like the inserts either but i don't make the videos. I do try to see if there are better version of something without wasting a ton of time on it. We kinda take what we can get.
@mama: are you talking about heat vent versus icy comet sort of creation theories?
mama, for the record I'm a strong believer in what could be.
2357, take cheap shots at cancer victims often? And you're here criticizing the values of non-believers? Sheesh.
it's expected. Their own kid gets leukemia and it's a tragedy. An enemy gets it and it's a joke to them. If you have any empathy whatsoever and you've seen anyone die from cancer, you wouldn't wish it on an arch enemy.
Hitch is dead. Were he alive to read, he would agree with me that yes, Hitch is dead. No wishful thinking there, none whatsoever. No shots intended, cheap or otherwise. Ought I to feel remorse or compassion for the ghost of Hitch? Pff! What bs.
I don't know anything about icy heat vent versus icy comet sort of creation theories – actually I know very little about cosmology, but I guess I'm going to have to learn and I should want to. I did like the basics of it as a child. I'm just finding now that if I follow my instincts, I really am an atheist, but I have thoughts about other possibilities. After reading about Spinoza tonight – I like the idea for the here and now, but am wondering how it might fit with other ideas I have about things not in the here and now. (if that makes any sense...lol)
maybe i shouldn't be saying cosmology, but rather creation theory (outside of christian creationism which I don't buy at all)
"Ought I to feel remorse or compassion for the ghost of Hitch? Pff! What bs."
I am beyond certain that were he alive today, this kind of desperately petty nonsense would have made him extraordinarily happy.
I am beyond certain that were he alive today, this kind of desperately petty nonsense would have made him extraordinarily happy.
People don't hate the irrelevant.
mama, some "origin" links to get you started. I'm sure you can track down related stuff if it appeals to u:
hydrothermal vent (google "hydrothermal origin of life")
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/origsoflife_03 (very little here)
Everyone dies. Just because it was cancer, are you a victim worthy of greater sympathy? No.
There is no greater cynicism than death and damnation, regardless of what scifi geeks claim. Meaninglessness and annihilationism ARE wishful thinking in the face of the inescapable reality who is God. Be a real cynic, one who eats the crumbs from God's table.
The truth in the bible is not revealed to all mankind....The only people who will understand it are those who were chosen by God. This is the reason why we have thousands of religious group all over the world. Christ died for salvation and people should seek the truth whyand for whom he died for.
You mean we have to believe to believe? Why does god make it so hard?
It's precisely words like Burt has written that has so many people getting out of organized religions. He sounds like a Muslim.
Burt, that is an interesting application of the logical fallacy "No True Scotsman". Thank you for the demonstration.
ButtM, you're crazy my friend. There is no word of God or anyone else for that matter. It's pure foolishness.
There's nothing magical about the letters or words in your book. We all understand it just fine.
Jesus died so that all of God's children would be saved from damnation. He loves the children, every single one of them, born and unborn. The "grown ups" will burn, for their pride is mere fuel for God's wrath.
Belief in the bible is based on cultural habit and the desire to believe. When one actually considers the sheer volume of contradictions in the bible, it is very easy to realize that it was the work of many men at many times, then as.sembled and edited by humans with a personal agenda.
chosen by god?
i am going to take a wild guess and guess you feel you are one of those "chosen by god"
Only for the new members of this blog:
Putting the kibosh/”google” on religion :
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.
• There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.
• There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.
• There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.
• Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.
• Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
ADDED DETAILS AVAILABLE UPON WRITTEN REQUEST.
A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.
"The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.
Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "
How about Sikhism.Why the most moderate,intelligent,scientific religion is ignored?
Why not Sikhism? Because they have a need to stand out from society by wearing different clothes and head gear. With atheism there is no need to "belong".
Are Spinoza's beliefs still held today?
I guess that means 4/5 Americans are still morons that believe in fairy tales.
Time to grow up already people.
Especially before you breed!
Teaching a child religion "Beliefs"......god what has this world been reduced to?
Yep. But it's gradually improving.
Sadly, about half of the US still believes the creation story in the Judeo-Christian bible. How sad. They will devote time to reading the same creation story over and over again but refuse to open a science book and learn something new. I don't get it. I thought they were all about learning THE truth but they choose to ignore it instead.
i got no problem with those who want to have a fairy tale to get through life.
i do have a problem with those who claim that their fairy tale is the correct one.
If God speaks to you what should you do?
Up your medication!
Woman:Hey Doc, I pray daily. I'm religous.
Psychiatrist:So....in other words you talk to yourself, I am increasing your meds by 300% just to be sure you don't become a danger to yourself and others around you.
That woman should be fine with taking orders, if she's very religious.
Follow what the good doctor says like a good lil' sheep hun.
They never send sheep to the slaughter!
Many of those "1 and 5" were Christian individuals who have grown apart from their religion; whether it be due to psychological/spiritual progress, or being fed up with all the BS. Many of them are starting to understand that Christianity and the bible are just a bunch of stolen stories and myths from ancient civilizations(Sumerian/Babylonian/Egyptian/Pagan/etc.). Once you have a solid understanding of religious history/studies, you really begin to appreciate the Pagan community much more, as everything comes from there. Sadly they have taken everything including the holidays and made them into something else.
I'm not an Atheist, actually Jesus Christ is among my greatest of inspirations; not as the "the son of God" (that's a proven plagiarization of the "Sun of God" pagan/astrological data) but as a teacher and master. You don't have to be religious to be spiritual. The essence of your soul has nothing to do with a religion, but an experience of the divine.
"Sun of God"??? Why would the ancients make a play on words in English?
In your view, then, Jesus would have had to either be crazy enough to believe He was the Son of God, or a big enough liar to know He wasn't but claim that He was. How could such a man be a master and a teacher? But if He was a master and a teacher, what else was He?
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.