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.
CNN Belief Blog: Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion
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.”
Firstly, the rate of the absolute decline is probably not a good metric. Much better would be the rate of attrition, i.e. the percentage of those in the faith who left. For example, if 99% of the population are believers, 3% leaving their faith only reduces their numbers to 96%, probably not even noticeable. But if the religious population were only 5%, then an absolute decline of 3%would bring the percentage down to 2%, rather more noticeable to those left. One would expect the absolute decline to slowly decelerate over time, but the rate of attrition to stay about the same unless the underlying dynamic changes.
Secondly, I would also expect some year to year fluctuation, and even some years of slight growth. Religious identification is after all a public opinion (even if a deeply held one) which is intrinsically chaotic.
Finally, as pure speculation, I think that some of the dramatic losses that we saw in 2008 – 2011, was a delayed reaction to Republican rule and and the extreme identification between Republicanism and religion. We're not likely to see that dynamic again until Republicans win the presidency. So even if the don't realize it, Christian churches dodged a bullet last November with the election of Obama rather than Romney.
Interesting article but really doesn't have any significance. Each of us will give an account of our lives to God. It is as though no one else were here. Polling data and public opinion will not come into play on judgment day. So, each of us must be sure we are "right with God' so to speak. How do we do this? We must receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior so that we will be forgiven of our sins. He died so that we could live. Receive Him now if you have't done so and do not concern yourself with what anyone else thinks about you or God or religion. This is between you and God. May you know Him as your own God and Savior. God Bless
Your whole post rests on he assumption that there is a god. (and, unsurprisingly, YOUR god).
The article on the other hand discusses the rate of change at which people are leaving behind the notion of a magical sky being.
But I'm sure you won't let that interfere with your delusion.
Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says – CNN ...
May 17, 2011 – By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen ...
There is nothing that can be done to defeat willful ignorance. All we can do is make sure these nutters do not direct public policy or invade our personal lives.
I'm new around here and don't believe I've met this God fellow that everyone carries on about. Could someone who knows him please describe him so I'll recognize him if we ever encounter one another?
He's all smoke and mirrors... nothing to see here.
@Lucifer: how in hell are you? (eh eh)
While I agree with you, let's give due credit: the organized religions have done a fine job of establishing an environment that invites, tricks, cajoles or forces gullible people to buy their fantasy, for the purpose of power and control. By hiding, controlling and manipulating information, an art perfected over many centuries, they have managed to infect whole generations and geographies with these stories, fears and delusions.
Unfortunately for them, enlightenment brought about by the availability of unfiltered information and knowledge, disemminated via channels that can no longer be controlled and suppressed by them, spell the end of the delusions. A tipping point has already been reached in some places, and we can expect much more as education sweeps through another few generations.
The propensity of people (especially the young) to question everything, now that those questions are no longer punished by a Spanish Inquisition-style bunch of control freaks, will continue to spur free and independent thought.
Independent thought: the greatest enemy of organized religions...
Almost all of them in the picture are young people. I can tell you as a young person I wanted nothing to do with religion. After a certain age though, death and sickness and the big stuff starts to happen and even if you don't believe in God you start to like the idea...alot.
I realize that videos get taken down, so here's the lyrics instead.
Old Fart At Play
Pappy with the Khaki sweatband
Bowed goat potbellied barnyard that only he noticed
The old fart was smart
The old gold cloth madonna
Dancin' t' the fiddle 'n saw
He ran down behind the knoll
'n slipped on his wooden fishhead
The mouth worked 'n snapped all the bees
Back t' the bungalow
Momma was flatten'n lard
With her red enamel rollin' pin
When the fishhead broke the window
Rubber eye erect 'n precisely detailed
Airholes from which breath should come
Is now closely fit
With the chatter of the old fart inside
An assortment of observations took place
Momma licked 'er lips like uh cat
Pecked the ground like uh rooster
Pivoted like uh duck
Her stockings down caught dust 'n doughballs
She cracked 'er mouth glaze caught one eyelash
Rubbed 'er hands on 'er gorgeous gingham
Her hand grasped sticky metal intricate latchwork
Open t' the room uh smell cold mixed with bologna
Rubber bands crumpled wax paper bonnets
Fat goose legs 'n special jellies
Ignited by the warmth of the room
The old fart smelled this thru his important breather holes
Cleverly he dialed from within from the outside we observed
That the nose of the wooden mask
Where the holes had just been uh moment ago
Was now smooth amazingly blended camouflaged in
With the very intricate rainbow trout replica
The old fart inside was now breathin' freely
From his perfume bottle atomizer air bulb invention
His excited eyes from within the dark interior glazed;
Watered in appreciation of his thoughtful preparation
Also, as I get older, the thought of a god like the Abrahamic god sickens me more. The survival of consciousness after death though is something I would like, although I'm not optimistic.
Good point STBOF!
If you took a picture of the audience at a Marilyn Mason concert, you would likewise see mostly young people.
The young have high levels on enthusiasm, but low levels of wisdom and experience. They are way more prone to puppy love, infatuation, following trends, fashions, popular and populist movements, and so forth. They have a need to be "different" just so long as everyone else is doing the same thing.
Cut off from all love? Having nothing but contempt and hatred directed toward yourself? I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
I have no idea what you're talking about. What's with the moniker anyway? Are you into the whole s.ex slavery thing?
RL : The survival of consciousness after death though is something I would like
L4H: Cut off from all love? Having nothing but contempt and hatred directed toward yourself?
RL: I have no idea what you're talking about.
The Abrhamic God is a God of All Encompassing Love. You admit that you don't want to be with this God, so you want to be cut off from all love in the afterlife.
Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Sorry, I didn't realize I was speaking with a deranged person.
Catfish harkens to the bough, pants banana doesn't suckle gently. Evenings do consider moss but only face naval. I've never sat horse type, fishing for shoes buckstring. Seven does murder wood, if Easter allows. Hats are smelly under doors, although chicken nurses ketchup.
@Rational Libertarian :
Yep, running and hiding when your beliefs are challenged.
Running up the wire to catch whimsy, echoing through Panurge. Pantagruel mocks badly, desk wafts with milk.
Hiding in hair, devilish in Bloom. Stephen speaks through porridge, Dedalus under wingspan.
Oh I get it. So all of the young people at a Christian rock concert will someday gain wisdom and realize that their man-made religion is a hoax. Thanks for clearing that up says the middle aged former Christian.
So now that you fear death and sickness, you get a nice warm fuzzy feeling that something will "save" you if it happens to you. Grow up.
Go take a blood test and find out the monkey in you have a great day !
Church and State Clause
True order of things with FACTS !!!
BRAND NEW FOR review All starts with the brain.
Don't need religion to tell us where Origin of Life began OR how LIFE WORKS
Origin of Life: Just add WATER !!!
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.
It is called Separation of Church and State
Can't teach ID/creationism in public schools in US as fact. PERIOD
NOVA | Intelligent Design on Trial – PBS
Nov 13, 2007 – Featuring trial reenactments based on court transcripts and interviews with key participants, including expert scientists and Dover parents, ...
New science standards created by MAJORITY of 26 states for 2013 (Stem).
Origin of life
Simple blood test will tell you what % of Neanderthal is in your DNA
Origin of Life no religions needed.
They just want $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and votes
NOVA: Decoding Neanderthals – PBS Pressroom
NOVA: Decoding Neanderthals. Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET. Check your local listings. Decoding Neanderthals Ep Main. Find out what
Take a good look at the picture accompanying this article:
Did somebody say "masses"? Standing around in the rain, in the thrall of c-list celebrities, telling them how to think and what to do.
Reminds me of that scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian when the throng keeps repeating after Brian:
"We're all individuals!" "We all think for ourselves!"
You do realize that that entire film basically points out that organized religion is a load of hogwash, don't you?
@Rational Libertarian : entire film basically points out that organized religion is a load of hogwash
The point was that the above picture is just another organized religion. Most People DON'T think for themselves. When pressed, they resort to mockery to avoid thinking about their own beliefs, while patting themselves on the back concerning how smart they are.
It's interesting how human nature is the same whether you're religious or not. Organized religion, atheists rallies, OWS, rock concerts, Hitler youth, lynch mobs . . . people seek to follow.
I see your point, quite true.
That's a manufactured complaint, Oubliette. You can color them as standing out there like sheep, waiting for people to tell them what to do, but that doesn't make it true. It's just how you see it.
Are Christians who sit in pews in church debating with the pastor? Or are they sheep, receiving their instructions? How do you see that?
Why does it matter who has a religion and who doesn't? Or what religion they have? Who cares?
It matters when enough of the religious try and make their religious interpretations the law of the land.
Yeah, but then don't they just make their opinion the law of the land anyway?
That's actually very true Curious. People generally do want their opinions to be legislated for, regardless of what formulates their opinions.
This should help cure those still suffering from the Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in religion:–>>
Only for the new members of this blog:---------------
Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!
• 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/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
Added details are available on p. 9.
Please forward this cure to any of your sick relatives or friends.
And we know this to be true because??? ... the silence is deafening.
Obviously LiveForHim failed to read the details posted on p. 9.
Simply click on 9 in the line near the bottom of the page i.e. "Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15"
I just noticed your comment that Gentle Giant isn't a name heard often today. It's a shame, they're easily the best prog band in my opinion. Their music, especially Acquiring The Taste, is almost like stream of consciousness literature. The only other music I've ever heard with a stream of consciousness style is Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.
My sister calls her husband her Gentle Giant :-). Love it.
OK – gotta go now.
Here's what I learned tonight.
Internet trolls are infallible. Do not disagree with them, on anything.
They are lonely.
They are ANGRY.
They are bullies.
They are here to symbolically kill those who think differently, and hopefully "hook up" with other trolls (so long as it stays "virtual" – no real relationships, please)
They hate God, and the 4 billion people who believe in some such concept – especially their parents.
They are a lonely hate cult.
I've sated my morbid curiosity for at least another 6 months. Thanks for reconfirming what experience already told me to be true
The sign off that a loser posts.
"I gotta go."
And when they state this you will know that they will be back with another nick name. It'll be at most a 10% to 20% chance that they will use the same one, but it will be that other percentage for the following days after.
Evidently you've also learned the limit of time here whereby one can talk to one's self is only self-imposed.
You're welcome. Don't let the door hit ya where natural selection split ya.
Sorry Tom – I think I missed a couple of your replies since a certain someone now has the world record for creating the most number of useless threads in an hour or so span. Maybe it will learn how to reply someday. lol.
Religious people love coming to blogs and just j-i-z-z their hate around. They don't know how fun it is for everyone to witness their rants of hate. It's an eye opener to their inner child.
You know you have problems when even your love juice is hateful.
you guys are mean!
"You know you have problems when even your love juice is hateful."
They don't do any self introspection. That is why this one little sentence bugs them so much ..."why do you really believe?"
Well ..yes. XD
A caution about learning: It can lead to atheism. Proceed at your own peril.
"You gys are meanies, I can't support my assertions so I am going to take my ball and go home!"
Nahhhh.... I can't hate what I know doesn't exist – ie any of your gods.
As to the victims (believers), I feel mostly pity for them. I'd even "pray" for them if I thought it would help them.
But I can be very cranky with believers who try to force their nightmares onto my grandchildren.
If you'd keep your beliefs in your clubhouse, I'd keep my comments to myself. But I have no illusion that'll ever happen.
I think we should all stand aside and let Tom Tom & RL have the floor. After all, it's "ladies choice"
Nothing is attractive as seeing two 12-steppers vent their spleens on everyone and then get acquainted. It's such a turn on.
You like Tull?
No I like movies.
What time is it where you are?
And Geraldine the wallflower whines....on and on.
You forgot the quotations to symbolize that you're trying to do a skit.
Isn't geraldine stupid?
Gerry from Bayonne. He's dumb.
Oh yeah. And Jersey sucks.
Yeah – it sucks real bad.
Now, now, Answer, you must make accommodations for the disabled.
Oh, now you're more boring than before. Time for a movie.
You know I don't care about the religious freaks. Putting them down with ridicule is fun for me.
I love it.
He's disabled and stupid.
Well . . . . .?
Well, besides our hatred of people unlike us, what else do we have in common?
Besides hating everyone like us?
You like Prog Rock?
Oh please do more skits.
See if you'll get better over time.
Why would an atheist do the 12-step program?
Also, I never said Jersey sucks. I quite like Jersey. It's like a time machine to Cro-Magnon times.
Angry atheists, lonely hearts, abuse victims, bullies, wallflowers, D & D players, former fundis, raised by fundis, etc., etc.
Believe me, I have the profile down to a T. Seen it so many times on the net and in real life.
"Just what I also suspected. These blogs are for rageaholics and lonely hearts."
=== You're that person ..indeed.
Gerry from Bayonne
Matchmaker matchmaker make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch!
The lonely person reaching out. And get's an online rejection. LOL
And when I say bullies, I mean only to those weaker and on the internet. Not in person. Sheesh, a person could get hurt doing that.
"And when I say bullies, I mean only to those weaker "
The self professed "I am the stronger."
"When I can't stop my fiddlin',
I just takes me Ritalin,
I'm poppin' and sailin', man"
Geraldine's description of users here sounds like the majority of the world. Nice summation!
Conservative military officer here, raised in a pretty standard catholic family...also an athiest. How you were raised and who you are has no bearing on why we don't believe in a magical wizard in the sky. Created the world and found your keys, but just can't handle the gays. Interesting guy.
Lighten up Lt. Don't make me drop and give you 20.
And don't tell me ones upbringing, and thereby how one turned out today, has no bearing on belief, or the lack thereof in God. It has plenty to do with it.
You are proof that even the guy who graduates last is his class still gets be be called "Lieutenant"
I'm sorry, "Gerry from Bayonne", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertion is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL".
I was never a classic rock fan. I like some prog and I'm a huge Tull fan but mostly experimental rock like Beefheart. What films do you like?
Just what I also suspected. These blogs are for rageaholics and lonely hearts.
I like Anthony Phillips and Peter Gabriel. What about you?
You wanna exchange iPods lists???
Tull was great. Also Yes.
As for film, I'm boringly mainstream. Don't like RomComs for the most part, but love SciFi if it's really top-notch, and Horror, but only if it's not just the dull slasher crap. Creepy stuff like "Silence of the Lambs" is my secret addiction. But as for indie films, I am not up on most stuff. Just don't have the time to go see most films in the theater-it's pretty much On-Demand here.
Where did you go to graduate school, and what was you dissertation on?
->>Just what I also suspected. These blogs are for rageaholics and lonely hearts.
The texts speak so much.
I saw yes about three or four times. the last time they played in the round and had a large group of former and current members. awesome!
I did Film Studies at grad school and I imagine I become tediously boring to non "film buffs" so I'll shut up about films.
Gerry, have you considered applying for that job as a monorail driver?
"MonoLOGUE" driver is more like it.
OOooh, mama! I saw Yes eons ago. What a trip. Still love their stuff, no matter how over-produced it might be.
i think all aspects of film is fascinating, RL. I've done some keyboard arrangements of some Morricone pieces, but that's about the extent of hands-on for me; but i sure do like watching movies, though.
yes tom tom yes
and speaking of film and yes, not sure if you follow him, but one of their last guitarists does some film scoring now
Trevor Rabin – i think he did the national treasure 1st film. (movie was so-so, but i liked the music)
Anybody who has done any Morricone arrangements is fine in my book. I had a Dollars day in December and watched the trilogy back-to-back. Did you know that Morricone, who must be nearly ninety, composed a new piece for Django Unchained?
my goodness, RL – no i didn't know that. I've been hearing a lot about that movie. quite the buzz it's getting. I liked morricone so much, i even arranged for piano the ti tle music to a tv mini-series he did years ago.
By the way, here's the Yo Yo Ma version (with EM) of that ti tle music:
Quite beautiful, although as a huge Leone fan, my favorite Morricone pieces are L'Estasi dell'Oro and Il Triello.
Tull was one of my favorite concerts. Stage was decorated like a living room. Anderson invited some people up from the crowd to come sit on the couch (on stage) to watch the show. Very cool.
Ian seemed to read my mind with regards to the set list when I saw Tull. He filled the show with their folky stuff, interspersed with some hard rocking classics. He even played Fires at Midnight, one of my personal Tull favorites.
Yes, RL , the mood that Leone and M could create in those films was very unique. I saw tull twice i think – once in Richmond and once at Merriweather.
oh and i saw joe jackson at merriweather. that was fun. and i think ringo a couple of times. i think i went just because i wanted to see who would show up as his band.
I've never listened to Joe Jackson and as for Ringo, maybe it's just because I'm such a contrarian, I hated the Beatles and all their solo stuff. Revolver is good, and I'll sing along to Mull of Kintyre and Wonderful Christmas Time, but that's about it.
I think i saw somewhere amid the Gerry B mess you saying something about Coleman.
How about this kind of stuff:
That stuff is a bit New Agey for my taste. I'd never heard of Metheny before. I like Coleman's Avant-Garde stuff. The Shape of Jazz to Come is possibly the greatest Jazz record ever created, in my opinion.
Yes, the classics in jazz are always there to hold you up. maybe i will pull out some of those old lps tomorrow and see what's missing in itunes–i do need to get more organized.
oh here' s a couple more, RL – she plays and sings (although maybe not simultaneously) (Eliane Eliias)
You are too funny. You seem to spend an awful lot of time on here and seem a little too interested in your research topic not to be a TROLL. What a maroon!
I've never seen Yackie here before. If you have, Geraldine, it's because you're here more than I am.
No, I'm not here more than you. I've been on here 3 nights in a row, and about 6 months ago – under a few different names – which i see someone has stolen *&^^$!, but I will probably quit this in a day or two. I have, well, a responsible job and stuff.
"Here's the angel, see the angel,
it's my angel, no-one elses,
next to the rakes"
Look at that shouting.
YACKLE <<– specific shouting of one person's online handle.
**Must be really desperate for that person to personally reply. I love employing psychology to get to the core of religious nutjobs.
Well, then Geraldine, what's your beef? If you are leaving soon, what do you care? Why not vamoose now and save us all a lot of boredom?
Gaerldine, tell us about your overbearing mother.
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.