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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. AllahSpeaking

    It is time to convert to Islam – welcome to you to the most peaceful religion of all. Brotherhood of man is Islam's message to the universe. Become a muslim now!

    May 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Savannah

      Tell that to the Soldier in Britain who got his head hacked off last week.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • pentecostal

      become a pentecostal where we speak the truth gospel!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

    • LOL – Shirley, you jest.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Huebert

      Be what ever you want, just kindly leave me alone.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • T

      Yea, what are you smoking? you muslims just want to kill the infadels and get your hundred virgins! What a load of crap!!!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • aureliamarie

      You are deceived and you believe a lie.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      pentacostal......don't you have to go off and play with snakes, or some such silliness?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  2. southernwonder

    the church could serve a nice full lunch after church service to make it attractive for people to attend. stop moving the hat around. people are not interested in hearing what some guy said thousands years back – and that too some guy in middle east, place which we know is known for misleading others. the people want a good lunch of different cuisines.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • M

      It is a social event and people have a need for socialization. It makes it attractive.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • ...

      O72 Bingo, I have bingo!!!

      May 30, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  3. SuzyCA

    It's sad that so many are giving up religion and turning to buddhism. New age ideologies don't teach you honest values.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • LinCA

      @SuzyCA

      You said, "New age ideologies don't teach you honest values."
      Very few, if any, religions do. Christianity is one of the worst.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      what honest values do you spea of, suzy? denying others their civil rights?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
  4. asdf

    The American Taliban (born again Christian) scares me a lot more than the Afghan Taliban. They have a lot more money, are more organized and control of at least one of the major parties in this country.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • M

      I think I would fear a group that might want to cut my hand or head off a bit more.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • asdf

      Maybe if I lived in some 3rd world hell hole. You are so much more likely in the US to be f__ked over by a Christian than a Muslim.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  5. One Dog Mama

    Freedom of religion . . . If Americans don't want to go to church, don't believe in God, etc. etc. fine with me.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  6. Bob

    This is the best news I have read all year – actually, probably all decade!!!

    May 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  7. asdf

    Southpark said it best just to mess with the born agains.

    Speaker- Hello, newcomers, and welcome. Can everybody hear me? [taps the mic a few times] Hello? Can everybuh-? Okay. [the crowd quiets down] Uh, I'm the hell director. Uh, it looks like we have about 8,615 of you newbies today, and for those of you who are a little confused, uh, you are dead, and this is hell, so, abandon all hope and uh yada yada yada. Uh, we are now going to start the orientation process, which will last about-

    Man- Hey, wait a minute, I shouldn't be here. I wa a totally strict and devout Protestant! I thought we went to heaven!

    Hell director- Yes, well I'm afraid you were wrong.

    Soldier- I was a practicing Jehovah's Witness.

    Hell director- Uh, you picked the wrong religion as well.

    Another man- Well, who was right? Who gets into heaven?

    Hell director- I'm afraid it was the Mormons. Yes, the Mormons were the correct answer.

    Crowd- [disappointed] Awww.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  8. simplyput

    So, although over 70% say religion is losing power, 75% say we need more religion; how is this a problem for religion?
    This is a 75% approval rating for God, regardless of participation. Jesus rules.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  9. Chris

    May God have Mercy on our souls as our country gets led down the path of liberal destruction.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • M

      Why do you fear free will?

      May 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Yakobi

      Yes, Chris, Goat forbid people actually think for themselves!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      chris: snap out of it. your god is a punk and you are a snivelling toady

      May 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Don't give us that crap, you xtians can't wait for the "end times" which have been just around the corner for 2,000 years now. Part of your mental illness is a real slant towards sadism – not to mention masochism. Also you've never outgrown the need to worship daddy. Any god requiring worship is no god at all, but a psychological projection. You people are willing to destroy the world to win daddy's approval. The sickness is appalling.

      May 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  10. Grafted Olive Branch

    This is the truth…
    At one time in my life I worked hard to be good enough to enter heaven; just like any good Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or even Christian. I was always so frustrated when I failed in achieving self righteousness. Then I realized that I was flawed. My carnal mind would frequently lead me astray. I could never achieve righteousness on my own efforts. I certainly was also guilty of past sin. I could never stand before a holy God in judgment in my own meager good works. Then I realized that Jesus Christ already achieved the righteousness that I was working so hard towards. Jesus Christ did it all for me. I was freed from my carnal limitations. I am holy in Christ. I can stand before God in judgment and have Jesus Christ plead my case before God for me.

    Perhaps this is where America is today, fed up with religiosity and seeking true relationship with living God. This would be a good thing for America.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • .

      That's convenient – let some poor jew do it for you 2000 years ago.

      Fat people don't go to heaven, though, right?

      May 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • pentecostal

      amen! brother

      May 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • mama k

      "Perhaps this is where America is today, fed up with religiosity and seeking true relationship with living God."

      Perhaps not, if you mean still the Abrahamic God. Perhaps people will be turning more to atheism; or Deism; or agnosticism; or to the ideas Spinoza had about creation and God.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • One one

      There is no god. Therefore, the relationship you have is with yourself. The good news is that you seem to be enjoying it.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Grafted Olive Branch

      .

      "That's convenient – let some poor jew do it for you 2000 years ago."
      -
      Yes, very convenient. That is the point. Free gift. No one can boast and beat their chest saying "I am great" ! Every one will bow before God in humbleness and say – thank you Lord.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Yakobi

      (backing away slowly)...So, "Grafted", do you ever hear voices in your head telling you to...do things?

      May 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Grafted Olive Branch

      One one

      There is no god. Therefore, the relationship you have is with yourself. The good news is that you seem to be enjoying it.
      -
      Yes. It is a good life. But If my life was for myself, my relationship was with my self...well I shudder to think what my life would have been. Prison...? Dead...probably.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Grafted Olive Branch

      Yakobi

      (backing away slowly)...So, "Grafted", do you ever hear voices in your head telling you to...do things?
      -
      Yes. "Love my neighbor as myself". But it the voice I learned many years ago. A familiar voice. A welcome voice. My own voice.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • .

      Love everybody but if they're fat DIVORCE THEM

      May 29, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      letting someone else take the punishment you deserve is about the most immoral stance someone could take

      May 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  11. Sarah

    Maybe in another 50 years or so we can finally convince people that religion and creationism don't belong in science curriculum and will finally let science be taught in schools.

    While religion does seem to be dying down in the mainstream, there does seem to be an alarming increase in the fanatics.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  12. Tim bucy

    I would rather be spiritual than participate in a corrupt, pedophilic rife organization that niether supports or cares for the true words of redemption and bliss..thank god! We might all see the days when spirituality isntbeing pettled by the small and ignorant...

    May 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Yakobi

      When was the last time an atheist went on a killing spree because he thought that would send him to heaven?

      May 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  13. mama k

    Bill Moyers recently interviewed Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, science & biology. He is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Watch the video at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUeQXmYVamA

    Dennett says that not for all, but for many, the dangerous thing about religion is that "it gives people a gold-plated excuse to stop thinking."

    Do yourself a favor and watch all of Dr. Dennett's lectures available on youtube. They are excellent.
    = = = = = =

    May 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Grafted Olive Branch

      I have considered well my belief in Jesus Christ for well over 40 years. I never stopped thinking. I never stopped learning, and never stopped studying science. After all, science is the study of God's creation. It is a Glorious thing!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Chad

      Dennett: "we dont know how (origin of the universe, origin of life, laws of nature, consciousness, free will , etc) , but we do know that it cant be God, because it MUST be purely naturalistic. The real reason can't be simple, it MUST be utterly implausible"

      kind of an inverse Occam's razor..
      pretty ridiculous.. right?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No more ridiculous than saying some giant fairy said "poof" and the universe appeared.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • mama k

      Where did that quote come from Chad? And when? I've been listening to youtubes of his for a few weeks now and I haven't yet heard him say that.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Chad

      hmm. listen to it again 🙂

      May 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What, is that what YOU do? Keep "listening" until you hear what you wish someone had said, Chard?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @mama k –

      Chad's an idiot (but you already knew that); that ridiculous post is Chad's cartoon mis-characterization of a video I posted of Dr. Dennett's impromptu discussion of a William Lane Craig talk. Obviously Chad hasn't even listed to the video you posted. What a knucklehead (complete with adolescent emoticon).

      May 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • mama k

      It's not in the video I posted, Chad. Do you have a time in the video where you claim that occurs? Or did you pull up a different video. As I said, I've not heard Dennett say that in anything and I've watched a dozen or so of his most recent videos in the past couple of weeks.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • mama k

      Ah, thanks, Really-O. Typical.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  14. patrick harris

    religion is for the weak minded and the poor- like the terrorists, losers!

    May 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Rachel

      And Chad.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • zaphed

      yes

      May 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  15. Chad

    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 poll, 75% of Americans said it the country would be better off if it was MORE religious.

    =>interesting
    so, people know intrinsically that acknowledging the God of Israel is a good thing.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Huebert

      Please explain how you drew that conclusion?

      May 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Rachel

      Ignore Chad, it is best.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • mama k

      Of course if the country is predominantly Christian they are not going to like this news. My goodness Chad; lol. The only thing you can really say from your last statement is (improved):

      Christians know intrinsically that acknowledging the God of Israel is a good thing.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • House of Laban

      @Chad, great point! Well stated! 🙂

      May 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "so, people know intrinsically that acknowledging the God of Israel is a good thing."

      How do you know what people know, Chard? You don't even know what YOU know. You don't know what you don't know.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Rachel

      I keep hoping I can escape Chad or that I am trapped in some sort of Monty Python skit that will have a punch line at the end, but no.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • The Eternal Satyr

      No. They've been brainwashed through centuries of subjugation and dehumanization by the establishment of The Church.

      Religion is the devil's greatest achievement.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • One one

      Harmful addictions can be very difficult to overcome.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • jim

      The Real Tom spews so much chard that i can make a salad.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  16. KSM

    Now that is good news!!

    May 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  17. walter estrada

    good, bye bye and see ya later.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  18. SATCH

    Best headline I read all day!

    Get rid of religion. Believe in God if you like, but their laws, opression, ignorance and politcal activism is making this country psycho.

    TYou do not need anyone to tell you what to do, what is right from wrong etc. I don;t need a Bible to tell me not to commit murder, geez!

    We have laws and rational thinking for that.

    Let's all be humanists and love one another and be better people.

    May 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  19. norman

    THIS IS GOOD NEWS-RELIGION HOLDS MINDS PRISONER-ITS INSTILLS LAZINESS AND ENCOURAGES HATRED FOR OTHERS

    May 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • allenwoll

      .
      EXACTLY ! !
      .

      May 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      I am in full agreement; but please turn off the caps lock.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  20. steve-0

    Religion is on the decline, God willing

    May 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • patrick harris

      good riddance allah akbar!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • allenwoll

      .
      Some, but NOT all, will see your comment as contradictory ! !
      .

      May 29, 2013 at 6:43 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.