By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – After years of marked growth, the size of Americans who identify with no religion slowed in 2012, according to a study released Thursday.
Since 2008, the percentage of Americans who identify as religious "nones" has grown from 14.6% to 17.8% in 2012, according to the Gallup survey. That number, which grew nearly one percentage point every year from 2008 to 2011, grew only 0.3% last year – from 17.5% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2012 – making it the smallest increase over the past five years.
This study contrasts with headlines from previous studies on religious “nones,” including a 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that found the group was the fastest growing "religious" group in America and that one in five Americans now identify with no religion.
“Although this ‘rise of the nones’ has increased dramatically over recent decades, the rate of increase slowed last year, suggesting the possibility that there may be a leveling off in this measure in the years ahead,” reports the Gallup study, which is made up of more than 350,000 interviews.
Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says these results suggest “that religion may be maintaining itself or even increasing in the years ahead.”
“Our current ability to look at it over five years with these big surveys suggests the possibility that the growth [of the nones] may not be inexorable,” Newport says.
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In his book, “God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America,” Newport argues that a number of factors, including baby boomers reaching senior ages, migration to more religious states, recognition of health and well being of religion and an increase in a Hispanic population, are all reasons that “we are going to continue to have a quite religious nation going forward.”
Atheist and humanist activists disagree and pushed back against the Gallup study.
“The truth is, it doesn't really matter whether one of these surveys – even a big one like Gallup – shows the number leveling off a bit this past year,” Greg Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University, says. “First of all, the numbers for young Americans are still dramatically higher, and secondly, it is beyond dispute now that the "nones" are one of the largest demographic groups in the United States, and we're going to stay that way for a long, long time.”
The Gallup study also found that 27% of Americans age 18 to 29 identified as religious nones, making the age group the largest subgroup in the study. The finding tracks with other studies on religious nones, many of which have found the growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been most notable among people who are 18 to 29 years old.
“There's no slowing here at the Secular Student Alliance. We're up to 394 campus groups from 310 a year ago,” Jesse Galef, communications director at the organization, says in response to the survey. “You can see the religious future of America just by looking at the demographics: Young Americans (18-29) are almost three times as likely to be unaffiliated with religion than senior citizens are.”
In particular, Galef points out, the Secular Student Alliance has experienced growth in ages below 18, an age group that Gallup did not survey. In the last year, says Galef, the number of Secular Student Alliance affiliates at high schools doubled to 60 campuses.
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News of strong growth among nones had long been heralded by their community.
As study after study began to report that religious nones in America were growing, many atheist, agnostic and humanist activists began to stress the need for these relative non-believers to come together and turn their numbers into political and social influence. Though some leaders split on what wielding that influence would look like, the size of religious nones became the impetus for many leaders to call for more recognition.
In response to the Gallup study, those calls continued.
“The real question now is when are our historically large numbers going to start turning into more votes and influence,” Epstein says. “The nones can become a steady and inspiring powerhouse in American life if we focus on what we do believe in.”
And even though the Gallup study found a relative leveling off of growth among the nones, David Silverman, the president of America Atheists, says he finds the survey “not at all troubling.”
“This underscores what American Atheists has been saying for years - that every person in America knows more nonreligious people than they think they know,” Silverman says. “America has to get used to the fact that atheists are everywhere, you already know us, and we are a vibrant and growing portion of society.”
Let's see. A religionist, Frank Newport, says religion is well. Hmm. That's not suspect, is it? I bet Jesus says religion is well also.
I would like to be seated in the no-mythology section please.
Why? Mythology is fun, I find the different beliefs and stories fascinating. Don't deprive yourself of the entertainment and insight mythology can bring, just remember that it IS mythology, just as the bible is mythology, and all other 'religious' texts are mythology. But knowledge is power, and you can't deny that myths have power – that's why they haven't gone away.
Why do people automatically assume that none-religious means none-believer? They are two incredibly different things. I believe there is an order to the Universe, and that none of us will ever completely understand the complexities of the Universe or how we relate to it, and it relates to us. I attend the local Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship so I can spend time with like-minded people, because I wanted my kids to have a connection with Humanism.
I reject completely the predominant Judeo-Christian belief system, have enjoyed the philosophy and ceremonies of Native Americans, Wiccans, and Buddhists, and continue to seek understanding in the order of the universe.
Why do we have to split into "religious" and "nones"? We need a category called "seekers, for those like me who reject mainstream organized religion but continue to 'seek' understanding. I suspect that this category is the largest of all.
mac, i wish that were the largest category, but i think the majority is simply those who follow the religion they were raised in. never applying any rational thought to the choice and never having a reason to question their beliefs.
religion is so formidable in our society because of the unending indoctrination, the constant threat of expulsion from the community, and the use of fear in the form of eternal punishment.
It's true, fear-based ideology is wide-spread and very powerful, and isn't always grounded in "organized" religion. And it takes a lot of discipline to use rational thinking to overcome fear, but humans have emotions and emotions are messy. I think ultimately the human race is evolving to a more rational and less fear-based species, we just don't see it because we are in the middle of it.
Take the long view – we no longer burn women at the stake, we are moving towards equality for gays, and we have a United Nations, Amnesty International, and lots of other groups that work to raise consciousness. 550 years ago, before Martin Luther, we just had the all-powerful catholic church, and a lot of bonfires.
Evolution – slow, messy, imperfect,- and unstoppable.
yeah – it's called agnostic
My favorite bumper sticker of all time is – "Militant Agnostic: I don't know, and neither do you."
Cultural evolution isn't the same as biological. Cultural occurs because we improve upon the way we're taught how to live and pass that on to the next generation. Biological evolution occurs due to genetics and who reproduces.
"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe what you yourself have imagined, persuading yourself that a God inspires you. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find anything that agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."-Buddha Despite this obvious teaching the followers went and made a "religion" out of Buddhism in some cases making Buddha an equivalent to god. God is a but a metaphor for that which humankind does not know about reality and/or over which he has no control. Religion is humankind's attempt to try and know the unknowable and/or control the uncontrollable believing the god made in their image can be manipulated by faith, prayer, sacrifice, obedience, and ritual..
Recognizing the need of many people for religious experience, con-artists have learned that if they carry a Bible in one hand and have a toll-free number, they can make a LOT of money.
Most of the con-artists in America carry a Bible with them wherever they go.
Buddhism is a religion without a god – 8 fold path (ever heard of it?) Buddha himself said listen to him because he is enlightened – no matter what you say, it's a RELIGION!!!
Hypothesis Traces First Protocells Back to Emergence of Cell Membrane Bioenergetics
Dec. 20, 2012 — A coherent pathway – which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells – has been traced for the first time in a major hypothesis paper in Cell this week.
Wait, we're talking about the Flying Spaghetti Monster, right? Then hell yea I'm a believer.
Hypothesis, is we think not we know. Although we have proved a lot of things, we still haven't proven how one cell became two, the beginning of life. That being said I don't pray to the sun god or anything like that.
From the deep
My elementary school biology book:" While the processes responsible for origin of life is still a mystery scientist attempt making great strides towards unlocking it secrets." then it cited some experiment that made cell membranes from electricity and proteins.
My first year college biology book said the same thing 12 years later. Give me brand new life on a petri dish and I'll say scientist really do know what they are talking about.
Believe in Lumpy Space Princess!!1
If you're a Bible thumper, your feet stink, and you're probably a gun nut.
The gun nut part is probably true.
As for the feet, I try to stay far enough from bible humpers to be away from their scents.That's a pretty good safety measure on the gun side too, because they tend to be pretty crazy.
If you're a Bible thumper, your feet stink!
“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and MANY enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” -Matthew 7:13,14
My invisible pink unicorn found the small gate, is walking down that narrow road, and is now praying you get a clue.
And what makes most of you religous nuts believe that you are one of the few? Are the Amish the Few? Are the Catholics the few? Whos is following the real rules laid out by the Gods?
What is wrong with a belief in God? If your belief gives you some peace, and helps people with charity and support services – why should that make some other people hateful & crazy?
if only it were only about a personal belief. unfortunately, the religious work tirelessly to impose their beliefs upon their fellow citizens by codifying their beliefs into civil law and indoctrinating our children in public school.
Jim McD, Not hateful, just riduculing a belief in some invisible sky fairy that doesn't answer 'prayers', help out in the world it created, and hates those who don't worship it and kiss it's azz. Hard for us to hate something that doesn't exist to us. You, however, can keep your delusions, it you need them to be a good boy (pats head).
Freedom from religion is not hateful or crazy.
The religious right wants this country to be a christian theocracy, with prayer in the schools and creationism taught, among other things.
That is shoving your beliefs down other throats, and that is the hateful and crazy part.
The problem is that a healthy percentage of religious people are hateful and judgmental. The KKK began with Baptists....Catholics.....look at their priests and the control the church wants over a woman's uterus.
Simply put, whether the topic is god, or guns or politics, people have an obsession to be right. Personally, I am a "none", whatever that means to other people. TO me, it means, I don't care. I have the same question to "whats your belief system" to "whats your favorite baseball team", I answer, no, I don't follow it. If someone wants to talk to me about baseball/religion, whatever, that's their opinion. But sadly, others dont think like me. They MUST prove their side right & others wrong in order to validate their existence.
'What is wrong with a belief in God? If your belief gives you some peace, and helps people with charity and support services – why should that make some other people hateful & crazy?'
because people rarely keep their personal faith personal, they join together to form religions and then push that on others.
Gotta love the robots that follow the money and evil Gods claiming they know the way to eternal life.
Honestly, younger people are at an age of searching. The 18 to 30 age group are determining themselves as young adults. Many of the nones may choose a religious affiliation later on. Family formation can bring young people back to a religion/church when they previously did not go. I respect your right to believe or not believe. I did not chose to be a believer until 32.
Why would you "choose" to believe in imaginary beings at age 32 ?
Feeling your mortality? That is so silly.
In actuality, age 32 is when you became too lazy to think for yourself anymore. It's nice to have an imaginary friend to blame bad things on right? Tsunami happens and it's "God's will." Children get mowed down by assault weapons and it was all "in God's plan." It's easy to feel like you have no responsibility when you can come to terms that everything that happens is because of some overwhelming plan. But then you don't stop to think that if that were true, that this is all one predetermined life we live.
Wow – lots of DEPRESSED people here – no peace and joy – just like the troubled sea when it cannot rest. My sleep is always sweet.
Actually, my family & I were religious when we were younger, but as I got older, I stopped being jewish, my parents started being atheists. It had nothing to do with our family. Thats just something you have to say to make yourself feel above other people, and frankly, it's kinda pathetic. Why can't I just not like religion or worship because I have more important things to do? Career, school, family, friends, love. But, sadly, people like you have to look at people like me & assume something is wrong with me, while, I look at you & think nothing.
You cannot extrapolate your experience to the many unless you have reputable studies to back that statement up.
My relationship with Jesus is personal, just like it's supposed to be. I don't need a church getting in between us. The Church says I do. No surprise there.
So true, I have a personal relationship with my invisible, pink unicorn.
Do you and Jesus ever bump uglies?
I have a personal relationship with reality. I don't need a church getting in between us. The Church says I do. No surprise there.
Marx was right. Religion IS the Opiate of the masses. In troubled times people rush to religion for a non-existent surcease of their ills. When things are better they examine how little religion has done for them and move along to greater ideas. After all, one needsno religion to talk to G_d.
hahaha – yeah right. and atheists take happy pills for their depression, loneliness, mind blowing anxiety – pity – but there is a faster solution (gun). What goes through your mind when in your room, door closed, sitting alone in the quiet/dark? Do you have peace? Joy? Feel loved? Or is it happy pills are here again – haha heehee hoho hideeho?
'yeah right. and atheists take happy pills for their depression, loneliness, mind blowing anxiety '
er, what depression, loneliness or anxiety? and happy pills? heck i dont drink or smoke so why would i do drugs? bizarre.
'What goes through your mind when in your room, door closed, sitting alone in the quiet/dark? Do you have peace? Joy? Feel loved? '
well usually i dont have to sit alone in a closed dark room. Is this something you do often?
The religious impulse was programmed into our brains by brainless evolution. Sharing a religious belief helped to make residents of the village or tribe more cooperative with each other and more obedient to tribal leaders.
Some of us have a strong need for the religious experience and some of us have a very weak need or no need for the religious experience.
If you feel a desire to be religious, go ahead and join up. It doesn't matter which religion you choose as long as it fits your needs.
If you feel no desire for religion, then sleep in on Sunday.
If religiosity is an evolutionary development does that mean it is advantageous to the species?
Personally, I don't see what the big deal is. Atheist, great. Christian, great. Hindu, Muslim, great. Believe in Zeus or Thor or Odin, great. If you believe that a black marker created our genome on this planet... ok, Unitarians were insane, that might be a non-starter.
My point is, why does it matter? You can believe whatever you want in this country. It's part of you, but its not the only thing that defines you. Spend your life trying to make the lives of others better. Be it as a doctor, an engineer, a construction worker, or a janitor. What matters is not what happens after, if there is an after, because it's really out of anyone's hands. Focus on now. You spend your life doing that and regardless of what happens, the world will be a better place.
It matters when they want public schools to teach kids that the earth is 6,000 years old and the sky is God's carpet.
if it were merely a belief it would never be an issue. unfortunately, the religious work tirelessly to codify their beliefs into civil law, infringing on the rights of their fellows and attempting to indoctrinate our children in public schools.
The majority of people use to think that blacks were inferior and didn't deserve equal rights, that they couldn't be fighter pilots or the president. Same for women and people with disabilities, so it really does matter what people "believe" to be true. Ungrounded beliefs, ones that can't be proven, really have no place in directing our society.
The larger question is, does it really matter? Who cares? Folks living their lives following a religion or not doesn't matter. Why are we counting who believes and who doesn't when there are far more important things on this planet like who eats and who doesn't. Who gets medical treatment and who doesn't. I'd rather know those facts and then focus as much effort, money, time, resources, attention etc. on getting folks fed and medical attention needed. Beyond that, who gives a crap what one believes except the individual themselves. Life doesn't have to be so complicated here on this planet. We have significant resources to pretty much manage our every need. We are tied up in so many other distractions that even basic needs are overlooked. I don't care what any one individual believes in or not. I am a Christian, big deal. That is a man-made label.
It matters because religious people (at least Abrahamic religions) are rarely content to believe whatever they believe in private.
I wouldn't care if they believe that theirs is the only God if the didn't then try to force it down everyone else's throat. It wouldn't matter that they think the world is 6000 years old if they didn't demand that we teach that nonsense in public schools, with public money.
Look how the Muslims absolutely destroy anyone who isn't Muslim. Even among themselves, Shias destroy Sunnis and vice versa. Obviously, that's no way to live. But "Christians", who come from the same tradition (yes they do. YES THEY DO.) somehow think they're magically delicious and everyone ought to be subject to whatever nonsense they come up with.
Sorry, this is the 21st century.
If only. It is unfortunate that the beliefs some people hold require them to witness to others, and intervene in others' lives to satisfy their own personal belief.
There is a large enough group of people wanting to make America a theocratic state, not unlike Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban. Even though all the evidence clearly shows what a colossally bad idea that would be, would you still say that we should just shut up and let them do their work?
You are so wise. Religion doesn't matter at all. It doesn't effect our lives. It doesn't lead people to fly planes into buildings. No, religion is completely immaterial.
The best way to interpret the comments of the self important so called atheist is knowing the fact that all atheists lie all the time. What one filthy atheist lies to others swear to.
More lies from TBT...ignore this troll.
Yep, I'm always lying. Truth Be Told isn't a fvcking pr!ck. Oops, there I go lying again.
The proof that all atheists are liars, shoot the messenger and declare the Truth a lie. No one but an atheist will buy that.Thanks for proving my point!
This sentence is a lie.
He's a fundie. If he can make sense of something as contradictory as the Bible then your statement probably makes sense to him.
be told, why are you compelled to lie on these forums.
Many people mistakenly reply to so called atheists expecting an honest or truthful discussion. It is important that the 99% of morally decent people recognize that they will never get Truth from an atheist.
With all due respect, as an Atheist, I am far more level headed, rational and have more morals than many people who are believers. There is so much hypocrisy in religion. Unlike my religious believing counterparts, I NEVER look down on them for their belief and I 100% expect the same in return. To each his own and what ever works for you, that's great. Just remember at the end of the day, one man is no better than the other based on what they believe, and if you think different, then you are a prime example of things wrong with this world.
"the fact that all atheists lie all the time. " See, the problem with that is that it might make you feel good to say that, but it's a total lie. We keep telling you the truth, and it makes you angry, and then you say we are evil or fat or have mustaches or something else that you can't possibly know. You are a liar. The truth isn't in you.
It would seem truth be told is lying for his lord. No wonder so many reject religion with people such as he.
tbt is a bald facd liar. He likes to spout his bullschitt as it gives him pleasure. Probably self flagellates as well as pops his puddy. This is what a religious zealot likes to do, and tbt is a zealot, not to mention a coward.
TBT – You're sadly mistaken and misinformed. I've been atheistic since I was 4, realizing that early on that religion made no sense to me. Becuase of the way I was raised, plus my time at the Air Force Academy, I formed a personal honor code that prevents me from lying, cheating, stealing and (this is the one modification I had to make once back in civilian life) am not judgemental towards others. My father is racist, my mother the most judgemental on the planet ... and they're both declared Christians. While they are always trying to shove their belief system down my throat, I engage in discussion but don't even attempt to force my opinions and belief system onto them. So at what point am I lying? At what point is my honor any less meaingful than yours? At what point will you give up the hate? That path leads to the Dark Side ...
sorry TBT but bearing false witness and being a reviler are both going to lead you to a warm afterlife.
It is such a shame that so many today put so much faith in their technology rather than in their creator. There will be a price to pay for this, and they will pay.
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God...." Psalms 53:1
I don't have "faith" in technology. I understand technology.
Psalm 137:9 Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!
Atheists don't put faith in technology. They believe in provable laws of science. BIG difference. If you can't differentiate science from technology, that's your problem.
An iPhone is technology. The second law of thermodynamics is not. The second law of thermodynamics says you'll die, I'll die, and eventually the whole universe will die. No escape, no angels, no reprieve.
That law has been proven true, beyond doubt. Even if you don't believe it, it'll kill you, as sure as gravity would if you jumped off a building.
Atheists accept that. Only sky-father lovers need to believe in a fairy afterlife that is completely at odds with observable fact.
Was maybe true once, before science came around to better explain all the things that gods were needed to explain. Now, however, it's those who deny such enormously well-supported theories as evolution and the Big Bang that really look foolish. When they try to lend doubt upon science they have to fight all the diseases that it has cured, that it put men on the moon, and the millions of other ways that it's improved our modern lives. Denying that science can find the actual answers to things is just plain silly.
Empty threats from an empty man-made religion.
What about the REST of Psalm 137... the part that explains what is really being expressed, you really don't want to tell the truth do you?
Your verse is taken out of context. It is not about the senselss killing of children, it a lament of Israels captivity in Babylon. Read it all for yourself.
1By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down yea we wept when we remembered Zion
2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song __ and they that wasted us required of us mirth saying Sing us one of the songs of Zion
4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land
5 If I forget thee O Jerusalem let my right hand forget her cunning
6 If I do not remember thee let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy
7 Remember O LORD the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem who said Rase it rase it even to the foundation thereof
8 O daughter of Babylon who art to be destroyed happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou hast served __ us
9 Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones
""The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God...." Psalms 53:1" Honey, every religion has passages in its books that say it is the only true religion. You can't get away with saying "the book proves it, according to the book."
no one has "faith" in technology. always the false equivalencies from the religious.
Even, quoting form the book of bullschitt is supposed to make thing credible? Get a clue, Even. Your book is mythology, man made. No god inspired it, no words by your so-called savior, jeebus. Fake, all of t. Learn to discriminate between fantasy and the real world. Sad.
'Your verse is taken out of context. It is not about the senselss killing of children'
no its about getting joy from killing the children of their enemies when they get their revenge, and how they will be blessed for doing it.
8O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
How blessed will be the one who repays you
With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
9How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.
"always the false equivalencies from the religious." It's because they worship a book, right?
I've met a lot of people who claimed to believe, and seen most of them lie, cheat or steal in the end. Now I understand that no one believes it in their hearts; they are mostly practicing Pascal's Wager. They go through the motions and give money to the church, and who knows, maybe something will take them to heaven.
It is no wonder that many have turned their backs on religion, due in part that the churches of Christendom have fed spiritual "crumbs" to their members. These have given no substance as to a Creator, no evidence that we are designed.
Jesus himself gave an illustration concerning this at Luke 16:19-31, and in which "Lazarus" (the common people) received only "crumbs" (nothing spiritually) that fell from the table of the "rich man" (the religious leaders). In Jesus time, these religious leaders were more concerned with the outward appearance than feeding their "flock", even calling the common people a disdainful name, am-haarets (Hebrew) or "people of the land", looking down on them.(Gen 23:7; Eze 7:27)
However, there is overwhelming evidence of a Maker that surrounds all of us, from the way our fingers are made, such as of the 207 bones in our body, over 50 are within the hands, making for very useful flexibility, as well as the over 2000 touch receptors in the ends of our fingers, so that we can feel something as small as 75 nanometers high (our hair is from 50 -100 microns thick and in which 1000 nanometers make one micron) The Bible establishes our Creator, our Designer as Jehovah God.(Isa 42:5)
"However, there is overwhelming evidence of a Maker" Really, there isn't. There never will be. You are commanded to have faith, and that's all you get. There is NO physical evidence, and those things you cite like fingers and toes and the cusps on our teeth tend to prove evolution, not creation. 'If there was proof, it would destroy faith' is the way I always heard it expressed. God could appear in a flash-bang and yell "Aha!" anytime He wanted to, and then you'd KNOW. Why doesn't He? The likeliest explanation is that He doesn't exist, but the other one is that He is testing you. You require PROOF? Where is you faith? I'm no believer, but I understand the problem.
TG, your description of human hands sounds more like evidence of evolution than a deity.
" there is overwhelming evidence of a Maker that surrounds all of us"
We've asked folks like you to post the scientific peer-reviewed evidence for your "maker" tens of thousands of times. You folks always refuse.
And it's obvious that you don't have a clue about evolution.
"Jesus himself gave an illustration concerning this at Luke 16:19-31"
Really? It is generally believed that Luke would have written his gospel between 60AD and 90AD. So how exactly did Jesus give this illustration? Was it divinely inspired after Jesus died? How convenient God always takes that route instead of having someone on the spot writing it all down.
TG, you really should try learning about evolution. It explains the features that you describe far better than your mythbook does, and your mythbook actually gets a lot of biology far wrong.
So how do you think diseases propagate? Better compare what your bible says with observed reality on that one. And have fun planting those mustard seeds...
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.