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Poll: America losing its religion
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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. Francisco Decastro

    "Poll: America losing its religion"

    They needed a poll to figure that out?

    May 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  2. Wensday

    Imagine how many more people we could euthanize if it wasn't for those backwoods thou shall not kill "pro lifers".

    May 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Observer

      The Bible never mentioned abortion, anyway.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      We could prevent abortions if the pro lifers would mind their business.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Pro-lifer

      People who are legitimately pro-life also oppose the death penalty and warfare. Basically any act which takes a life. I don't know where these anti-abortionists got their beliefs from (certainly not the Bible itself) but they don't represent true pro-life values.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Pro........They are called Phoney Crooked Christians or republicans.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • wadesworld242

      Imagine how many wonderful children this world would have if it wasn't for the arrogant, "yeah, it's inconvenient, so let's just kill it" pro-choice crowd.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Yeah having children is wonderful. We've created Osama Bin Laden, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Eric Rudolph, Richard Reid, Lizzy Borden, George W. Bush. The list goes on. Good thing their parents didn't have an abortion.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Imagine how many wonderful children this world would have if it wasn't for the arrogant, "yeah, it's inconvenient, so let's just kill it" pro-choice crowd"

      And who would be raising them? The women and men who didn't want to be parents, couldn't afford to raise a child?

      We couldn't begin to support that many more people.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  3. Not interested

    I would rather go back to sleep than read this.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Huebert

      And yet you bothered to comment?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Good night!

      May 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • asdf

      We're not keeping you up. Its amusing reading the arguments of the "chosen" people though. Kind of depressing though. Its badly highlighting how big a fail our education system is.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  4. Another Plausible Reason

    Now that the pope has said that even the non-saved can enter into Heaven, which could not be further from the truth as Jesus Christ revealed to us in the Holy Bible, many sensible people see this as a further reason to leave the Catholic Church.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      better yet, leave iron age hearsay and dreams of heaven altogether

      May 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      The church won't let them leave. They need the money.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • One one

      Are you saying that YOU have a better insight as to what God thinks than the pope ?

      If we accept you as credible, then "god's will" seems uncertain and subject to anyone saying THEY know what god thinks and wants. Thus, the pope would be off track and lost. On the other hand, we could accept the pope knows more than you about such things, and that you are simply another noisy crackpot.

      The other possibility is that, it's all bunk, and we simply have people debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

      The readers can decide for themselves what they think the reality is.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @one.............We ALL got here the same way. Parents had s3x, the father came. Nine months later. hello. Nobody including the pope has any idea what "god" is thinking, saying, smelling or any other ing you can think of. It's all a bunch of crock for your money. Period.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  5. tafugate

    psychological opiates, e.g. religion, are a bane on the human existence. rather than sipping imaginary kool-aid, try believing in yourself, your family, your friends, and especially professionals, e.g. doctors. religion is like getting drunk because you have a problem. you can pray yourself blue, but in the morning, you still got problems. not to mention the one where you trust imaginary deities to make you feel better.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
  6. ruben

    @davin, I don't need to tell it to anyone. I have been giving charity to places like the children's hospital for many years and I didn't do it because jesus or religion told me to.. I do it because it comes from me.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  7. asdf

    I have noticed that the majority of very religious people tend to be very poor in logic and science reasoning. They tend to be more gut type emotional extrovert types.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Greg

      I have found that atheists are flaming liberals who don't believe in anything anyway. Luckily, religious parents (like me) have children (I have 7) and we teach our children about religion, and that it is positive and beneficial. They grow up and have more children, etc. Atheists typically don't have children, because they are selfish and do what they want to do. A kid is baggage to them.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I have two children. Caught in a lie again huh?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • asdf

      Tend to be in my experience. Small sample size not scientific in any way obviously.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • asdf

      Some of the most selfish people tend to be right wing Christians. Many believe God wants them to be rich.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  8. tomfoolery

    I will say to any of the above that wrote under what I had to say above, you might think what you write, but you are going the way of the highway as described....end of story!

    May 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Huebert

      Threatening an atheist with hell is as effective as me threatening you with death by unicorn stampede.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • The big A

      Sounds like someone needs to be touched by the mighty FSM's noodly appendage. Ramen!

      May 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • tomfoolery

      Hubie...I have but one thing to say to you....since you enjoy reading my jazz, go out and get a copy of ESSENCE magazine and whack O FF to the ladies pics in it!

      May 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      tomfoolery: fvck you and your empty proxy threats

      May 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Tom...............I think I know what you do during your spare time!

      May 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Huebert

      No thanks I have an internet connection 😉

      May 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I read magazines for the articles. I have no idea what you guys are implying?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  9. HFitch

    1500 people were polled... hardly scientific.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • sam

      People should try harder to keep their daughters off the pole.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • asdf

      Wow somebody needs to learn basic statistics. 1500 people can speak accurately for a very large population if the 1500 are chosen correctly.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Observer

      HFitch,

      Your comment shows you are clueless about statistical methods and the solid math in back of them.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • HFitch

      asdf – saying the opinions of .000004% of people can be aggrandized is ridiculous.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • asdf

      @HFitch – I tell you what you take a basic college level statistics class for say the first week and then we can talk. The proof is in the pudding being able to say things about a population using very small but well chosen sample sizes is what science is all about. If it didn't work the antibiotics you probably took as a kid wouldn't have existed and you wouldn't be here showing your ignorance.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Observer

      HFitch,

      "asdf – saying the opinions of .000004% of people can be aggrandized is ridiculous."

      Please take a BEGINNER'S class in statistics so you'll be knowledgeable next time.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Huebert

      HFitch

      You take medications based on much smaller sample populations.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      You have no idea what you're talking about so do us all a favor and STFU, ok? You wouldn't know "scientific" if it bit you in the butt.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  10. jack

    Religion is a way to control the masses who are scared of living and have very low self esteem

    May 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Dippy

      They'll just have to get over their reliance on superstitious nonsense.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  11. Science

    I do not believe that I have an invisible & magical friend in the sky who when the urge strikes, will perform miracles for me or society. OR, when in a bad mood, blow's people and things away.

    I believe in science.

    Darwin is my hero!

    May 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • asdf

      Darwin actually got a remarkable amount wrong. Luckily he was on the right track and generations of scientists since have set things straight.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Dippy

      Blows, not blow's.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • science liposuction

      Your days of pushing buttons are numbered science. You know some of us believe God and who is right.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • dave

      Better than believing in an invisible woman who goes around sticking extra feet on animals to see what happens like some kind of insane scientist.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • JP

      Well at least you got the friend part right...the rest...

      May 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • asdf

      @Dave wow just wow. amazing how few people on here have taken basic college biology. Forget advanced natural selection study.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Science

      For the fake poster

      And............Biggest JOKE under the SUN.................NO heaven or horn-y red devil..........never has been !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/comment-page-43/#comment-2372761

      PS Do a simple search for Prof. Higgs.............the church hates that

      May 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • wadesworld242

      Which science is right? Today's science? The science of bloodletting? The science that said the Earth was flat?

      Science is constantly changing its understanding of how things work. Theories which were considered absolute truth 100 years ago are now laughed at today.

      That's not to say the we should dismiss science. Not at all. But don't get caught up in the arrogant trap of thinking science has every answer.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, for Pete's sake. Scientists don't stop investigating even when it appears there's an answer. That's what believers do.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • LinCA

      @wadesworld242

      You said, "But don't get caught up in the arrogant trap of thinking science has every answer."
      Science may not have an answer for everything, but it has every answer there is. Religion, on the other hand, has none.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  12. anti-nothing

    Looks like the nothing god extermists are on the move.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • sam

      Extermist: is that like an extremist combined with an exterminator?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      I used to be a termist, but now I'm and extermist. And I don't play one on TV.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  13. Dawn

    It's rather pompous to continue toting Christianity as *the only religion*. I, for one, am glad that it's choke hold on the American people is lessening. Not everyone should be legally bound to the dictations of a religion they are not a part of.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Dippy

      It's, not it's.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • HFitch

      Amen.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Dippy

      Its, not it's. damn autocorrect.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Greg

      This country is founded on religion, but we know that societies don't last more than a few hundred years. Taking that into account, it makes sense that Atheism is on the rise in America (goodbye America and all that it has stood for).

      May 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  14. The big A

    Welcome to the real world. Science is a wonderful thing!

    May 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  15. aureliamarie

    BLESSED ARE THOU, OH LORD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE. HONOR, PRAISE AND GLORY TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, WHO LIVES AND REIGNS FOREVER AND EVER.
    You people who want to talk so horribly about the Lord, that is your own choice. You have a free will to write and say what you want. By your words you are justified, by your words you are condemned.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • pentecostal

      amen!! they will be judge in the last day white throne judgment!!

      May 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • sam

      Goodness. Did you stomp your feet while you were typing this?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      spend a lot of time on your knees, aurelia?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • GRAIL KNIGHT

      I call troll. Christianity is fundamentally evil because the concept of vicarious redemption, based on the archaic practice of scapegoating, relieves individuals from personal responsibility, which is the concept upon which all morals and ethics must be based. Additionally, jesus may most likely, in fact, be buried in Kashmir, India. Many people have very good reason to believe there was no resurrection and no ascension. Vicarious redemption is unethical and disgustingly immoral. Corporeal reassembly is impossible. It didn't happen.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Robert

      Si if I won't kneel and grovel before your made up nonsense I get to be tortured by the same Gawd who loves me soooooo much. There were an awful lot of Gawds before yours. Millions were put to death for those Gawds. But yours is different. Right we got it. Sorry pal, psychobabble is psychobabble, whether you're quoting the Babble book or any other made up junk. I won't kneel before your made up Gawd or anybody else's!

      May 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • LinCA

      @aureliamarie

      You said, "You people who want to talk so horribly about the Lord, that is your own choice. You have a free will to write and say what you want. By your words you are justified, by your words you are condemned."
      Get a grip. Your imaginary friend is just that, imaginary. You worship a creature that is no more likely to exist than the Tooth Fairy. While you are free to remain blissfully ignorant, don't expect anybody sane to fall for that obvious nonsense.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      And you're just peeing your pants in anticipation of our eternal torment, aren't you? Freak.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  16. just sayin'

    To Skytag.....I suppose it depends on what you believe is evidence. I find evidence of God every day, and, by the way, that does NOT stop me from using my brain to think and be rational! I do, however, agree with your second statement that it is dangerous when a group of people decides that God is displeased with another certain group and so they need to be stopped or eliminated.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  17. asdf

    Why can't we go back to the days when America was more holy? When we could own slaves legally, how we could black ball any lefty as being a commie, when we could burn any uppity woman as a witch. You know the good old days.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • James

      Don't be ignorant. Not all Christians believed in having slaves, in fact most spoke out against it. Puritans were responsible for the witch trials and again, Christians thought they were crazy.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • asdf

      My point is simply there was no golden age in the past when everything was milk and honey because everyone believe in the word.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Joey

      Sure Christians in the North used the bible to show why slavery was wrong, and Christians in the South used the Bible to support owning slaves. This was not the first nor the last time that the bible was used to support opposing positions because the bible can be used to support just about anything you want.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  18. Bobbb

    Morals can't buy a good steak, morals can't buy a vacation, morals can't buy a bigger car, morals can't buy a harley motorcycle, morals can't buy health insurance, morals can't buy a decent home. Selling to lgbt gets you more money, letting people gamble helps me save money on my taxes, drug dealers keep the poor people supplied with drugs to assuage them, and legalizing it can help reduce my taxes, letting people work on Sunday instead of going to church puts more money into the economy. Ah, THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR, now that is better than any orals.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • tomfoolery

      what a miserable SOB u r!!! Have you tried phyucking a duck yet? U would be the type that would do just that!

      May 29, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Remember This

      Yes, you might be able to get those material things while here on Earth, Bobbb, but just think that the day you die, You Can't Take It With You! And having those things will Never help get you into Heaven if that is your ultimate goal and remember, the alternative is pure Hell. Remember what Jesus said about those who possess riches: "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." - MATTHEW 19:24 (KJV)

      May 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  19. GRAIL KNIGHT

    This may explain why americans are losing their religion, in a nutshell: /watch?v=L5mXQP72cIY

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

    Why is it when one man believe a wild story he is a lunatic but when millions believe it they are holy? A religion is just a cult centuries later.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Kp

      Some 'religions' are cults, but not all. If you can belong to a faith without feeling pressured to congregate with other believers, without feeling coerced to offer money, without having to submit to a human authority, it's pretty legit.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • GRAIL KNIGHT

      yes, and this is the most absorbing question – what to do when a plain racket turns into a serious religion. such was the case with mohammed, who took a borrowing of other holy texts for the q'uran. Most recently, such was the case with convicted conman joseph smith, who engaged in the practice of polyandry and pedophilia. Coexistence with this sort of thinking is as impossible as coexistence with stalinism or fascism. the sooner we wake up to it the better.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
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About this blog

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.