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Poll: America losing its religion
The Reason Rally, sponsored by secular organizations, draws a crowd to Washington.
May 29th, 2013
03:06 PM ET

Poll: America losing its religion

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.

"It may be happening, but Americans don't like it," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, said of religion's waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don't think this is a good state of affairs."

According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans' perception of religion's power has never been lower.

According to the poll, 75% of Americans said the country would be better off if it were more religious.

The poll doesn't reflect Americans' personal religiosity, such as church attendance, but rather how large events and trends shape shared views, Newport explained.

For example, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War and the rise of the counterculture fed the perception that religion was on the wane during the late 1960s, he said.

Views of a secularizing America peaked in 1969 and 1970, when 75% of Americans said faith was losing its clout in society. A similar view dominated from 1991-94 and from 2007 to the present.

Americans saw religion increasing its influence in 1957, in 1962 and at a few points during the Reagan presidency in 1980. This number also spiked to its highest point ever - 71% - after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The pollster didn't speculate on the contemporary factors that led to the current views on faith's influence.

Still, the poll numbers are dramatically influenced by church attendance, according to Gallup. More than 90% of people who attend church weekly responded that a more religious America would be positive, compared with 58% of Americans who attended church "less often."

The Gallup poll was conducted via telephone from May 2 to May 7. A total of 1,535 people were sampled for the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • United States

soundoff (6,389 Responses)
  1. moon627

    YAY !! Glad to hear it ... i just hope the Islamic world catches on too – they really need to get a grip on reality ! 😦

    May 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Maybe you should talk to them after drum practice.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • .

      moon627 You probably already know that deacon is a condescending aszhole who needs to put people down for his own reasons, just makes him feel superior I guess. Best to ignore it.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  2. Science

    Rugrats from Alia Shawkat

    May 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  3. save people

    fantastic!!!!!

    May 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
  4. bam

    thank god

    May 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
  5. dnick47

    I am loosing my religion but not my faith... I tried time and again to find a church not involved with politics but after several attempts I've thrown in towel. Even after assuring me that politics would not be preached from the pulpit, I found the Gospel of Christ became intertwwined with the gospel of the Republican Party slamming Obama and any other Democrat... guess Republican are above sin... anyway, if I have to hear the Glorious Gospel Of the Republican National Committee when I attend service, I simply won't attend service.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • ldavid69

      Why do you people always spell losing wrong? It truly is embarrassing , that adults can not spell a simple word.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • sam

      Fair enough. There must be a smaller church around you somewhere that focuses on the faith part; if nothing else, start a study group of your own.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  6. markiejoe

    The wisest thing that has ever been said to me:

    "The Bible says that God created man in His image and likeness, when in fact the reverse is true."

    May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • devin

      I honestly feel sorry for you if that's "the wisest thing anyone has said to you."

      May 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  7. God Lives

    As this country is sinking fast, most of us who have faith in God will be covered by his grace and mercy. Hopefully more learn before their time runs out....

    May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      Why is it not good enough to simply be a good person? Why must one acknowledge that this "god" is the almighty? Seems a bit vein.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • save people

      still brainwashed, huh

      May 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Luis

      Hahaha... That was hilarious; you are a genius comedian. Thanks for making my day.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • JWT

      Just remember that Thor is the one True God – or Odin of course.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • THOR OF ASGARD

      VERILY, IT IS SO, THE ALLFATHER IS THE GREATEST OF ALL GODS.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  8. Jeremy

    This is the silliest article I have ever seen....... the reason people feel this way is because our country is in shambles because of Anti Christ Obama. peoples opinion are turning more negative towards the Nation in this poll not religion that people are beginning to hate and despise its our nation. With gay marriage ,Peta and there pro bestiality stance, Dems supporting pedophiles get out of jail early card. Dems wanting to tax churches. Socialism on a roll in New England and California. Anti gun crowd that thinks there going to get rid of guns 🙂 lol. Wall st haters that think welfare is a better route. Legalizing drugs. I do agree in the north and far west (CA OR WA) these things are taking place but in the south and mid west ...not so much we still go to church , say grace and will continue not matter the fight lasts nor how grave the cost my be .

    May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • sam

      Nice attempt at trolling. Pedestrian at best, yet, it has a familiar bouquet. I give it a 4.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • leigh

      lmfao. i only read one sentence, but that is all i needed.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Eric

      Dude – get your meds checked, I think you may need to up the dose a bit.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      yeah you can tell a troll when they call obama the anti-christ, claim peta supports bestiality and dems want to give pedos get out of jail early cards.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Getting a bit crowded under that bridge, but there's still room for one more, troll.

      May 30, 2013 at 12:51 am |
  9. Eric Olson

    There have been a lot of grammar mistakes lately. "According to the poll, 75% of Americans said it the country would be better off if it was more religious."

    May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • blaqb0x

      WEEEOOOH, WEEEOOOH, WEEEOOOH! BOONK, BOONK, BOONK!

      ... Here comes the Grammar Police.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  10. IO

    While it's natural to feel concern over the effects of Atheism on society, there are examples of countries which have survived the transition with no ill effect. Australia and New Zealand are not very religious, but they maintain societies which are as civil and respectful as the United States.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  11. wildmangreen

    nonsense aside...religion is a curse, a mental deficiency...believers are morons, plain and simple.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Dan

      I take it you have a higher IQ than all religious people?

      May 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      I have to agree with Dan. Atheist elitism is very off-putting and there are many non-believers that believe in false things outside of religion.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Simple Wisdom

      Then 75% of Americans are morons? Whether you believe or not...imagine a society in which a belief in God doesn't exist, that God will not hold people accountable for their actions. Imagine a society that is not taught to forgive, give, care about others. Imagine the anarchy...

      If you are the smart 25%, then understand the role of religion in a society. Methinks you may be the moron, and a near-sighted one at that.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • JWT

      Imagine that religion is not needed for all the good things in life and you will realize that it is snot .

      May 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Simple Wisdom

      There is a serious risk associated with sheeple losing their fear of punishment after death. It is clear that they have a tenuous grasp on reality to begin with, they're believers after all, but if they no longer have the religious morality to live by, we may end up with a lot more murderers and rapists, etc.

      It may be in the best interest of society to ween them off their fairy tale gradually.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • b

      I think I'll take the intellect of Francis Collins over you.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  12. Danielle

    Did everyone read the article? It said 77% believe religion is losing it's influence and that 75% said that was bad. That 75% believes the country would be better off if it WAS more religious. Note, it does not say which religion(s).

    Oh, and violent crime is not down.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      Violent crime may not be down, but you're cherry picking here. If I were to directly correlate race relations and equality for women (much progress made, although we have a ways to go) to the USA losing its religion, would I have a point?

      May 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Danielle

      Not quite sure how you think I am cherry picking. People aren't reading the article.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      Ummm, I was addressing something YOU said, not the article.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  13. d

    "Absolutely everything in the universe was created from absolutely nothing in the blink of an eye"

    That's science "that doesn't require faith" for you, lol. Even scientists admit they can't prove this.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Scott

      You couldn't be more wrong about the Big Bang. The biggest difference between science and religion is that science is the search of truth, and will change its view upon receiving contradictory evidence. Religion provides a story to fill in the gaps of knowledge, and they stubbornly hold on to these stories when the facts prove them wrong.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Jeremy

      it is funny I recommend a read to a simi literate Dems/ big bang believers Brian Greenes the fabric of the cosmos. then "if you have to capacity use Deductive reasoning and a little math and you'll see that you leave with more questions , more holes in there story then you started with. Its funny people (libs) take the word of a man who can not measure his "facts" in science as LAW. Yet they laugh when we say the same for God. I guess they like being lied to Oh also look up your higgs boson lie someone asked for a demo and they couldn't replicate the reaction but the project head said oh well truth is you cant see the reaction but we know its happening because of a mathematical energy signature we expected when this theory was put in place in 1964 LOL. It is easy to prove a theory when you already have an answer you just build and equation to fit

      May 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • B

      Whatever Jeremy. Enjoy the delusion, it's all yours.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • LinCA

      @d

      All the more reason to claim that the Tooth Fairy did it, right? You have to be a dimwit of the first order to reject scientific theory, supported by enormous amount of evidence, in favor of a fairy tale without the slightest amount of evidence.

      Ignorance isn't illegal, but it would sure help if it was painful.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  14. Walter

    Never being religious, I don't have much interest in this story. I am however, fascinated by people thinking that if religion went away, all the problems of the world would be solved. How? Do you think people giving money to the church will turn it over to the government? Never going to happen.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Do you mean "turn over" as opposed to "borrow into insolvency"

      May 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  15. Science726

    God didn't create man, Man created god to have control over other men. Also, the weak created god in their minds because they didn't have enough faith in themselves. What a better place this world would be if all people understood this is their only life and make the most of it. And befriend their fellow man. How contradictive it is to tell children there is a tooth fairy and know that this is no such thing and then believe there is a God, and you have as much scientific evidence as the tooth fairy existing.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • CLOS

      I challenge you in providing me with scientific evidence that proves that God does not exist.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      CLOS

      I challange you to provide scientific evidence that Russell's teapot does not exist.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      Reply to CLOS...

      Science does not have to prove that something that isn't there does not exist.
      You are the one making up the story. It's up to you to prove that your fairy tale exists.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Ignitron

      In reply to CLOS;

      Pics, or it didn't happen...

      May 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  16. Phil Muse

    Americans didn't abandon religion. Organized religion abandoned Americans when it identified itself with conservative political causes.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Walter

      Yeah, libs worship at the altar of the government. Talk about misplaced priorities.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Linda W.

      Amen, brother! I think you hit the nail on the head on that one!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • .

      Walter missed the point by a wide margin.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  17. Matthew Temple

    Religion isn't being killed it's committing suicide.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  18. wildmangreen

    thank god.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  19. Jack

    Religions, every one of them, provide a false view of reality.
    They exist in combination with ignorance, hope, and fear and are administered by the priest class who exploit our tribalistic evolutionary baggage.
    There is a courage required for atheism. Atheism is the acceptance of eternal nonexistence upon our death, but that's a small price to pay for the comprehension of the awesome beauty that awaits those who discover truth, rather than have "truth" revealed.
    No one is coming to save us from ourselves. Certainly not Gods, who only exist in the six inches between our ears.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Walter

      The ones who truly will "lose" without religion are those living in abject poverty. Their "beautiful" view of the world is that they're stuck in a hell-hole until they turn into worm food. Whoopee!!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • CLOS

      Prove to me using scientific evidence that God doesn't exist and that there isn't life after death? You can't so your thinking is as much in believing in something...in your case in nothing, just like someone choses to believe in God and life after death.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • B

      CLOS:

      Prove to me using ANY evidence that God does exist and that there is life after death. See how much fun that is?

      May 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Jack

      To Walter,
      The abject poor might stop waisting their precious time, by clasping their hands together and wishing for solutions, if they understood that the only ones going to help them is themselves. Why do you think religions thrive when the population is ignorant and illiterate and desperate?

      May 29, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Jack

      To CLOS,
      The scientific evidence is overwhelming that our mind is a function of our brain. ALL evidence indicates that when our brain ceases to function, so does our consciousness.
      And Atheists do realize that death is not the end, we still have some decomposing to do.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  20. d

    People who say America would be better off without religion are ignoring the colossal amount of $$ donated to charity by these churches (given by their members) every year.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Walter

      I think those opposed to religion honestly believe parishioners will simply turn the money they would have given to the church over to the government. Now that's a fairy tale!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Walter

      I honestly believe people think that instead of giving money to the church, people will turn that money over to the government. Talk about a fairy tale!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Joe Anja

      @ D,
      So I should stop donating to my favorite charity because I do not believe in God?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Matthew Temple

      The Money is donated by the people in the church not the church

      May 30, 2013 at 7:26 am |
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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.