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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. Truth Prevails :-)

    I think all christians should listen to this right about now and maybe give the words some serious thought.
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY0COX0gcyw&w=640&h=360]

    May 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • devin

      Yeah, listening to a 3 minute clip from some ex- dope head musician is going to sway my theological and philosophical views on the meaning of life.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • lionslake

      If you look at the picture from the Rally for Reason, you'll notice that organized atheism is hardly a rainbow world of diversity.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      But reading a two thousand book written by people who thought demons caused disease does.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      devin: I can see how this might offend you. He thought different of the world than you do, so you feel persecuted by his words...don't listen to them, remain ignorant to the reality of the world. I will still enjoy his music and I will take meaning appropriately from his words...he isn't wrong, this world would function a lot better without religion.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • devin

      Truth. Let me enlighten you a little. He does not offend me at all, I simply place no value on his opinion of how the world works. My opinion is that his view of human nature is at best naive and at worst just plain silly. The fact that he was a dope head is incidental. If you find some comfort in his words, then by all means drink the kool aid.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Maxwell

      All hail the yellow submarine!

      May 30, 2013 at 8:50 am |
  2. Melissa

    Good. Its about time.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • joe

      No kidding. When "god" finally dies, logic, reason and humanity wins.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  3. CLOS

    My 2 cents. Religion is a man made creation which was first used to understand that which could not be understood and throughout the history of organized religion man has tried to use it for power and to steer men into the direction that a selected few thought was correct. However, faith is something else. Faith is an individual creation of a belief in something more. I have faith in God. And as person who believes and trusts in science i will continue to believe in God on faith until someone can scientifically prove that God does not exist. Until than faith is all I have and is all that I need 🙂

    May 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Anon. in San Diego

      "i[sic] will continue to believe in God on faith until someone can scientifically prove that God does not exist."

      That's called a logical fallacy–it is very dishonest to ask someone to prove a negative. Prove to me fairies don't exist*

      *It's worth noting that in Victorian England most people did believe in fairies. Nice to see so many Americans finally throwing off their childish supernatural beliefs.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Anon. in San Diego

      "And as person who believes and trusts in science…"

      PS. "Belief" is not necessary when you have "knowledge". Nice to hear you have "faith" (excuse me) in the scientific method–you should: it's an epistemology far superior to anything else we have or ever had as a species.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • From1979

      So, do you also believe and unicorns or Santa Claus? because their non existence haven't been scientifically proved.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Joey

      CLOS also believes in Aliens, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness monster until someone can prove that they don't exist.

      May 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  4. Fuzzy

    Thank god.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  5. Puzzled in Peoria

    In the atheists' comments to this article, I did not see one fact, one indisputable fact, only opinions based on...faith that God does not exist.

    I'm amused that people think God should conform to their demands. He must stop all evil from happening. He must end all suffering. He must reveal himself. He must do this or that. Since he doesn't, therefore, there is no God.

    If there is a God, he's God and we're not. He doesn't obey anybody's demands. He wouldn't be God if he did. He also is not compelled to make himself understandable. If he were, he wouldn't be God.

    I always read about all the wars, hypocrisy, and judgmentalism of Christians but never hear atheists talk about all the hospitals, orphanages, food, and medicine provided by Christians.

    It seems atheism is the new religion, and its philosophy hardly compares to that of Jesus Christ.

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

      Coo Koo

      May 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • mama k

      You don't seem to understand the basics of what mainstream atheism is. For starters, just try wikipedia and you'll realize the erroneous assumptions that are glaring in your post.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • lee

      "...faith that God does not exist."

      Do you have faith that Zeus does not exist? No? I didn't think so. It doesn't take faith to LACK belief. Lack of belief is the default position. I don't believe in your god or the thousands of others due to lack of evidence. The burden of proof is on the person who claims their god(s) exist.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I always read about all the wars, hypocrisy, and judgmentalism of Christians but never hear atheists talk about all the hospitals, orphanages, food, and medicine provided by Christians'

      we have to bring that first lot up because christians never want too.

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

      Being rational is hard and takes practice. Keep trying, maybe it'll happen for you!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      I only ask that god does what he has done in the past
      PROVE himself empirically
      John 20:24-29

      May 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • joe

      That is circular logic at it's finest. How about this: prove it, or it or it doesn't exist. That's the thing with science. It's the quest for truth and understanding. Your method is to rely on faith alone.. fairy tales and such. Then, you have the audacity to attack people who don't believe in your fairy tales.

      America is losing it's religion because people are getting smarter. This country, through the blessings of science and discovery, is getting more and more educated by the second.

      Oh, and which god are you referring to? Zeus? Buddha?

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

      In response to lee...why does the burden fall on the person who believes in God when you believing there isn't a God at the end of the day is just a belief as well. Hypocrisy at it's best I see!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ CLOS

      Lack of a high school education at it's finest, I see.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      It takes no faith whatsoever to disbelieve. In unicorns or the Easter Bunny for example. Do you have faith that Zeus doesn't exist? Or do you simply disbelieve?

      May 30, 2013 at 1:22 am |
    • lee

      CLOS – I don't recall claiming that there was no god(s). I lack belief. There is a difference. I don't know difinitively that there are no gods, I just haven't been convinced by any of the god claims with which I've been presented.

      A: prefix meaning without or lack of
      Theism: belief in a god or gods

      Lack of belief =/= belief in the opposite.

      Would you accept someone's claim that there is an invisible pink unicorn behind you at all times? Does it take faith to disbelieve in that proposition? No. The burden of proof is firmly in the hands of the person making the positive claim.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  6. 5giggy5

    I't is a good day when rationality reaches the masses, no hocus, pocus. If it hasn't produced itself by now most likely does not exist but it is a good way to scare people to do absolutly nothing .

    May 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  7. Evolve

    Before technology all you had to rely on for information was your parents, teacher and pastor. As we have evolved and created a technological world we been able to call BS on the things and prove it. We now know more about how the world works instead of saying god did it

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

      Ok. We still don't know squat. In regards to comsmology and like topics, we don't even know what we don't know yet.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • CLOS

      That still doesn't prove that God does not exist.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • G to the T

      CLOS – Saying "there's no proof god exists" is not the same as saying "there is no god".

      June 3, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  8. TS

    A society without religion will turn into China. I can tell you, the people there just want to make money and most feel really empty about it. For people who live in the Western world, try to appreciate the religious freedom (and choice) that you have.

    For the anti-religious people, "I wish you love and peace". For people who believe in God, "God loves you, Jesus loves you"

    May 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • mama k

      Uh – that's a leap. Do you think somehow think the U.S. and China started off the same, but wound up different?

      May 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      Why China and not any of the other countries that don't embrace god? Has it ever occurred to you that the US has been progressing away from religion on its own, and for the better?

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

      It's more likely they turn into the Netherlands, or Sweden, or plenty of other countries that are widely non-religious. Nice try with the propaganda, though!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  9. wade

    Liberalism is a religion and so is Atheism.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Darw1n

      Nope and nope.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Huebert

      If atheism is a religion abstinence is a se.x position.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • mama k

      @wade: google atheism; educate thyself.

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

      lol@ Huebert. Yes, it's that position where the partners stand against opposite walls and stare very hard at each other.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      I have to laugh at statements like these. If I took them seriously I'd despair for the human race. But there IS a glimmer of hope. Oh yeah, you forgot to mention that bald is a hair color and that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      May 30, 2013 at 1:25 am |
  10. wade

    MURDERED OVER FAITH:
    100,000 Christians Killed Each Year, Vatican Says CNN refuses to print the story.

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

      did you hear that on Fox news ??? lol

      May 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm guessing that more Sunni or Shiite were killed for their religion.

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

      THIS JUST IN:

      People make up stories to get attention.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • ME II

      @B,
      Did you just make that up?

      May 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  11. pentecostal

    alot of people say there is no GOD!! one day you will leave this world your soul will end up some where in eternity 95% of people take there last breath want to hook up with GOD on the final breath.. but is to late..soon every knee shell bow every tongue confess that he is LORD!!

    May 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Foam at the mouth much?

      May 30, 2013 at 1:26 am |
  12. TequilaMan2000

    Thank God!

    May 29, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  13. goblackhawks

    The Dali Lama is a spirtual leader .. hence religion. Guess what there are other religions besides Catholic... And wait a minute .. religion isn't just on the right .. Ever heard of Rev Jesse Jackson or Rev Al "Notso" Sharpton ... just because most of you on CNN.com hate REP .. doesn't mean religion is a conservative thing. Bill Maher is an unfunny little troll who was funny in like 1985 ... It is a shame you folks on this site can't separate Politics and Religion ... But I guess if you are a closed minded bigot .. than you love yourself more than others .. like most Obamabots ....

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

      Multiple periods aren't necessary to construct a sentence.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      Obamabots? Pot, kettle, black?

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

      Al Sharpton's version of Christianity is just as much a myth as the popes. And I'm fully aware that Tibetan Buddhism, the religion lead by the dalai lama, is in fact a religion. Though I do agree with what you said about Bill Mar, he isn't very funny.

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

      One more troll to toss under the bridge. Mentions keeping politics and religion separate and then speaks about "Obamabots". Pot troll, meet kettle troll.

      May 30, 2013 at 1:27 am |
  14. Michael Bylebyl

    Thank god !!!

    May 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  15. Yakobi

    As people become more educated, the urge to worship an imaginary superbeing diminishes.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  16. Dan

    It's amazing to me how much faith people place in our ability to reason, when study after study have shown just how irrational humans really are.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • G to the T

      Which is EXACTLY why science is such an important tool in our understanding of the universe. Otherwise we only have what one person believes to be correct. It's only through being able to replicate the results of others that we come close to generating a decent model of reality.

      June 3, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  17. leigh

    okay so basically they asked people if they thought america was going to hell in a hand basket and whether or not a little more religion would help.

    70+% of people still believe in god, and those people think more people need to believe in god. i am shocked....

    May 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  18. Skeptic

    "America losing its religion"

    It's all REM's fault.

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

      You're welcome.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  19. aureliamarie

    As for me and my children and grand-children, we will continue to worship Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. You guys can do whatever you want, but in the end, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

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

      Maybe. But first, you have to know who Jesus is.

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

      Actually, your grandchildren will eventually realize what a waste of time religion is.

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

      My grandfather also believes that I worship Jesus too. It's amazing how much your family can hide from you.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • One one

      I don't think so.

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

      In the end, you will die and get absorbed into the earth to feed microbes. You will never see your loved ones again. It will be all over and only the people left alive who knew you will be there to carry on your memory. Sorry, but that's reality. Live your life to the fullest 'cause when you die, it's all over.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Doobs

      How sad that you don't let your children and grandchildren think for themselves.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  20. Realist76

    Spread a negative message, expect a negative outcome.

    May 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
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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.