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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. tim

    any philosophy one chooses to guide one's life decisions can be a good thing – which essentially what "religion" is. However we can thank the right wing fundamentalist evangelistic movement which used hate, judgment, and the bible as a weapon to create a religious war in this country. we invite, actually beg, all races and religions to come to this country and want them to covert to southern baptist only? i am in georgia, moved from DC, and the people here are angry as hell – at what i have no idea – but if you are not like them, you have to totally watch your back at all times.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
  2. JP

    Last thing this country needs is more religion. Much less religion in politics. There is no bearded white guy waiting to greet you when you die much less St Peter waiting at a set of pearly gates. Get grip America.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • John

      Are you out of your mind. Who guarantees our rights in the bill of rights? Men? A paper? A rock?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      John, interestingly enough the Founding Fathers gave ownership of God to Nature, not Nature to God. (See first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence)

      May 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • John

      Hey You
      You obviously do not understand the English usage or the context. Read the writings of the authors

      May 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "You obviously do not understand the English usage or the context."

      Says the doofus who can't figure out the difference between "loose" and "lose."

      May 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  3. Hey! You!

    The Founding Fathers dream is being realized.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
  4. JohnParryJones

    Indeed. It will continue to lose ground and in another hundred years it will only be a footnote in history...how things were in the old days.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • John

      Are you out of your mind. Who guarantees our rights in the bill of rights? Men? A paper? A rock?

      If this country looses religion it itself will be torn down to a dot in the book of history.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Dippy

      Come on, John. It's "loses", not "looses".

      May 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  5. Andy

    Religion is one of the most dangerous and destructive forces that plague mankind. It sets up people to believe they are better than someone else, and they must " show others the way". People kill, die, torture, prosecute, demean, discriminate, lie, abuse, manipulate, steal all in the name of "religion".

    Religion is a crutch for the simple minded, and those who want a cookbook approach to life, as in do steps A,B and C and thusly D will result. They cannot think in their own, or are to afraid to listen to their inner voice.

    Religion is different from spirituality. Religion is a small group of people manipulating their large audience and maintaining power over others.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • John

      Are you out of your mind. Who guarantees our rights in the bill of rights? Men? A paper? A rock?

      If this country looses religion it itself will be torn down to a dot in the book of history.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Dippy

      Come on, John. It's "loses," not "looses."

      May 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  6. Jesus G.

    Attending (Christian) church is far from the only way to be religious! This article lacks depth and perspective. It's shallow and bordering on schlock, not unlike Christianity in the US.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  7. asdf

    Math is the language of the universe. I am not sure if the human mind is capable of explaining everything about our reality but I am confident the scientific method can.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  8. jib

    less religious???
    47% of americans believe in divine creation over evolution...
    for a developed country that is shear fanaticism

    May 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • asdf

      or a complete failure to educate our youth.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • John

      Or a strong indication of people with open minds that don't depend on a few unsure scientists to explain the reality of existence

      May 29, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Or people that can easily be bu'll sh'itted.

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

      At least it is a small step in the right direction!

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

      Are you out of your mind. Who guarantees our rights in the bill of rights? Men? A paper? A rock?

      If this country looses religion it itself will be torn down to a dot in the book of history.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Dippy

      Come on, John. Loses, not looses. How slow are you?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  9. Robert

    I always listen to Joyce Meyer. god talks to her you know. He told her to open a church and preach making sure to collect all the evil money she doesn't need. Oh yeah, he told her to buy that corporate jet for 17 million and those 5 mansions too. And my favorite part, he told her "Mention me and you don't have to pay taxes on anything again ever!" And all you sheeple still send her money. Now that's funny!

    May 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Tina

      I am a Christian and I have no idea who you are talking about.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  10. Tim

    Are these people serious? There is already FAR TOO MUCH RELIGION in America as it already is! We are a developed country, not Iran. In which Western country do politicians have to so disgustingly grovel to conservative religion, deny scientific facts, openly display their bigotry in order to gain votes? In which Western country do people in government habitually pray to imaginary fairies in the sky before meetings? We need far LESS religion and far MORE reason in this country!

    May 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • John

      Are you out of your mind. Who guarantees our rights in the bill of rights? Men? A paper? A rock?

      If this country looses religion it itself will be torn down to a dot in the book of history.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Dippy

      Loses, not looses.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  11. Science

    Hey NO horn-y red devil or fairy in the sky............no bible 250 million years ago !

    Rock Where India Crashed Into Asia And Pushed Up The Himalayas [PHOTO]

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/chris-hadfield-himalaya-satellite-photo-2013-5#ixzz2UdQgGr1G

    250 million years ago ............mass..

    http://www.businessinsider.com/chris-hadfield-himalaya-satellite-photo-2013-5?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Science%20Select&utm_campaign=1-SCIENCE_SELECT_NEW&utm_content=emailshare

    May 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • K from AZ

      The belief is that there was once absolutely nothing. And, nothing happened to the nothing until the nothing magically exploded (for no reason), creating everything & everywhere. Then, a bunch of the exploded everything magically arranged itself (for no reason whatsoever), into self-replicating bits which then turned itself into dinosaurs.
      And, they mock my beliefs.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Science

      And the green slime to go with IT !

      Scientists Offer First Definitive Proof of Bacteria-Feeding Behavior in Green Algae

      May 23, 2013 — A team of researchers has captured images of green alga consuming bacteria, offering a glimpse at how early organisms dating back more than 1 billion years may have acquired free-living photosynthetic cells. This acquisition is thought to have been a critical first step in the evolution of photosynthetic algae and land plants, which, in turn, contributed to the increase in oxygen levels in Earth's atmosphere and ocean and provided one of the conditions necessary for animal evolution.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130523143741.htm

      May 29, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • gg

      K from AZ,

      Very well put! Science does NOT explain everything.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • asdf

      @KFromAZ we have very good evidence for singularities (black holes) which are a bunch of crap packed down into zero dimensions and all the Big Bang was is the inverse a white hole. Also quantum theory explains how something can form out of nothing. Math can explain things that can not be explained easily in any other way.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • John

      Are you out of your mind. Who guarantees our rights in the bill of rights? Men? A paper? A rock?

      If this country looses religion it itself will be torn down to a dot in the book of history.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • asdf

      Unfortunately the only reason we are having this argument at all is because reality as we experience it is much different than the true reality at the smallest and largest scales. We are truly on a tiny island in the middle of an enormous ocean. Explaining reality with anything but math is like hypnotizing chickens.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • asdf

      Science only doesn't explain everything because it is limited by time and the human mind. If we had all the data we need we could explain everything. Its very possible the theory of everything (ie quantum gravity) is only a few generations way. Once we have that we will be well on our way to explaining everything.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Science

      REPEAT the fairy in the sky DID NOT create US

      Search
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      CNN logo CNN 3 weeks ago
      When Christians become a 'hated minority'
      .
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      The point where religious speech becomes hate speech is difficult to define, though, scholars and activists say. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama is a nonprofit civil rights group that combats and monitors hate groups. Three years ago, it... Full Article at CNN

      http://legalnews.findlaw.com/article/0bj7cdy2zIcqA?q=law+OR+lawsuit+OR+legal+OR+%28court+AND+law%29

      May 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • asdf

      Hawking seems to think the Big Bang was started by quantum tunnelling (google to see something very usual about our reality that has been proven to exist). The key to understanding cosmology is being able to understand fields and how they interact with our universe at the smallest scales.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Science

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

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/24/prosecutor-parents-refusal-to-seek-medical-attention-led-to-infants-death/comment-page-13/#comments

      May 29, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  12. jazz

    Good, we can focus on spending money on other things like education instead of padding cult leaders pockets

    May 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  13. Sara

    Ok with me.

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

      Are you out of your mind. Who guarantees our rights in the bill of rights? Men? A paper? A rock?

      If this country looses religion it itself will be torn down to a dot in the book of history.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Dippy

      Loses, not looses. Unbelievable.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  14. GRAIL KNIGHT

    Here's why, in a nutshell: /watch?v=L5mXQP72cIY
    P.S. I love you crazy christians.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  15. Pritka

    I am not particularly concerned that fewer Americans are religious. I am not religious. I don't think religion makes anyone a better person. Living your life by the golden rule is all the religion anyone will ever need to live a happy life.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • K from AZ

      Who do YOU think established the 'golden' rule? Are YOU really that stupid naturally or did you have to work at it?

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

      K from AZ

      "Who do YOU think established the 'golden' rule? Are YOU really that stupid naturally or did you have to work at it?"

      The concept of the "Golden Rule" came LONG BEFORE the Bible. Check ancient China for instance. OOOOPS!

      "Are YOU really that stupid naturally or did you have to work at it?"

      May 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Better the golden rule instead of the golden shower.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Akira

      K, you really needed some divine guide to tell you to treat others the way you want to be treated? I understood THAT when I was 4 years old.
      I didn't learn, and I mean LEARN about God until later.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Eric

      The golden rule is not unique to Christianity, and appears in many ancient cultural texts including those from ancient Babylon, China, Egypt, Greece, etc. It's a very basic philosophical concept.

      If religion becomes less influential in America, that can only be a good thing. We'll have people making more rational decisions instead of trying to placate invisible sky wizards created by bronze age tribesman.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • John

      Are you out of your mind. Who guarantees our rights in the bill of rights? Men? A paper? A rock?

      If this country looses religion it itself will be torn down to a dot in the book of history.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • The real Tom

      See John. See John stutter. See John make a fool of himself. Run, John, run. Run to your nearest remedial English class.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Dippy

      Loses, not looses. Man, you are slow!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  16. Stan

    Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • GRAIL KNIGHT

      epic. i salute u.

      May 29, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  17. anti-nothing

    Why are you all excited about nothing? What does it have? You have no proof nothing did anything.

    (shakes head walking out the door)

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

      Apparently you believe that God came from nothing and then created everything from nothing.

      What was your point, if any?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  18. Bob

    We all knew American was becoming less religious, but the VERY telling thing is that a far majority of Americans think America should be MORE religious. Goes to show that evil will prevail if good men do nothing.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, you mean evil like the Schaibles?

      May 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  19. Shalisa

    Awesome. We can join the rest of the developed world as a secular society.

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

      Where there is killing in the streets......

      May 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You mean like in Japan, a very secular nation with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, Johnny?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  20. stu

    Thank God.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:46 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.