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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. asdf

    Americans are religious because they are terrible at speaking the true language of the universe, math. Its also why our country is falling behind China.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Dennis

      U.S. out manufactures China by more than 40%

      Your views don't add up.

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

      Do you just make stuff up to cover for your god?

      In 2010, China just barely edged out the United States as the world's top manufacturer by output - a distinction it hadn't held since 1850. Still the two countries were basically neck and neck.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/12/china-is-officially-dusting-the-us-in-manufacturing-and-thats-ok/266221/

      May 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • ..

      Outmanufacturers China in WHAT?? Bullshit rhetoric??

      May 29, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Korea beats China at math and is more religious. Math is good, but it isn't in itself an education.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Dennis

      Go to the same UN database and look up 2011 output at constant 2005 dollars, and see that China still lags US manufacturing output (1.8 trillion to 2.3 trillion).

      May 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  2. Nate in CA

    Best news I've read on CNN all day.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  3. Name*

    Were all gonna burn like sodom and gommorra

    May 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • asdf

      Like those Godless people in Hiroshima?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by YOUR country – the only one in the world EVER to use the nuclear bomb. And NOT on soldiers, oh no! On the old, mothers. and children.
      And you were the first country to use Agent Orange on civilians ..........and drones.............. and you've murdered 53 Million of your own children Shame on you. If you spent more time on God and religion, you might think twice about dreadful cruelty to your fellow men.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • asdf

      Guess you missed the sarcasm. In our defense Mao starved and killed far more people than our government has since WW2. He only gets a pass because it was his own people.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • KneonKnight

      @HeroesAre Rare

      If we spent more time on "god" we'd turn around as a country and go back to burning witches, crusading against Muslims, prohibiting the spread of scientific information that did not agree with the bible, etc. You really want that?!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      And you're just peeing your pants with excitement waiting for it, aren't you?

      May 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  4. Cindy Krobe

    NO matter what you "think" or "believe", GOD is still in control! And to the nonbelievers, .....one day, EVERY knew WILL bow!

    May 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Cindy Krobe

      meant to say Knee

      May 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • tony

      Which if the leading gods should we bow to? Allah has the most worshipers I think.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • The big A

      'murica!

      Keep on a readin' that there bible thingie...

      May 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      You're right Cindy. God Bless and Peace be with you, friend.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • KneonKnight

      I, too, wish to know which god to whom you are referring. The choices are are quite abundant. So... are you sure you have the right god? What if you're wrong and you've been worshipping the wrong one every day of your life. Boy, is that REAL god gonna be peeved at you!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  5. rg

    Perhaps it's a good thing for "America to lose its religion" just as long as its individuals don't lose their authentic spirituality and love for social justice.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  6. dw1650

    Go figure! Religion has been an excuse to kill for thousands of years...how could politics possibly influence that?

    May 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      Please grow up and try acting like an adult.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
      • dw1650

        I was being sarcastic get over it!

        May 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  7. Reality

    This is a good thing. The only thing religion's influence (Christian and Catholic in particular) has brought to this country is division, conflict, and laws that drag both of those on for generations.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • wadesworld242

      Oh yeah, because "do whatever you want" has had such a positive impact on our society.

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

      Wade, who said anything about 'doing whatever you want?' No one.

      Atheists follow a rational, step wise process towards morality. They see what works in society and keep it. They see what is detrimental to society and throws it out. See Sweden and Norway as examples.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • tony

      Do what ever the religious leaders tell you, has been the bane of civilization for ever. Your own conscience should never be overridden by the lies of religious fervor.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  8. anti-nothing

    It is too hard to figure out how nothing did anything. Tell me again all the equations that will form a universe from nothing. When I tried doing the math on a calculator like Stephen Hawking did, no universe formed. What secret formula is he using? I didn't even get an asteroid to form.

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

      anti-nothing

      "It is too hard to figure out how nothing did anything"

      Yep. God coming from nothing and creating everything from nothing doesn't make a lot of sense.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      If you're serious maybe you'd be interested in looking up http://www.godandscience.org/Apologetics It's SO much more factual, easy to understand and enjoy than Hawking!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • KneonKnight

      @HeroesAre Rare

      Sure. Let's just follow the bible, because science is sooooo hard. As for the website you promoted, when I see the bible used as a reference source to explain natural phenomenon, refuting science, I can immediately save myself some time and ignore said site as a source of knowledge. Pleas, Mr. Rare, investigate the wonderfull world of critical thinking. It would serve you well concerning being rational, and let's be honest, keep you from looking foolish.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  9. rudy espinoza

    Americans loosing their religion? Not in the US of A. Americans may be loosing traditional Christianity faces, but Christianity is actually getting stronger. America has more missionaries spreading the Gospel of Christ all over the world now more than ever. It has clearly been prophesied, America will be in the forefront of the spreading of The Gospel and the unification of The Christian Church for the reception of the second coming of Christ. We will have missionaries spread all over the globe in orderly fashion, the funds are being provided by The Lord himself as He will be enriching America, not because of us, but because of The Savior's Graceful Mercy on humanity. I would not pay any mind to The Muslims as they themselves are coming to Jesus in hoards as their people are being healed miraculously by The Lord as Christians praying for them. I find it so hard to find the communication format here, as most writings are out of biblical truth and reality. Rudy Espinoza, Parker Heights Church, Odessa Tx. (432) 924-9434

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

      Having missionaries is proof that god doesn't exist. A real god wouldn't need them. He would tell everyone alive his message regardles. Imagine whole nations being left out of heaven, because there wasn't a missionary sent their villages for the past 2000 years.

      Grow up and actually use your brain.!!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  10. T

    ....When organized religion began its POLITCAL AGENDA........it LOST the war.........

    May 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  11. Messager

    No wonder because TV is very very influence people to make forgetting God's love! Don't Forget John 3:16 and Rev 22:20

    May 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  12. cnn_bull

    This article didn't mention another two reasons:
    1> Baby Bush used religion to steal the election in 2000. (i.e. many believers voted him for his believe instead of his political views.)
    2> Some extremists used religion to preach hatred. (including Christians)

    May 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  13. wadesworld242

    The only groups which desire to force their beliefs on others? Atheists and agnostics. They won't be happy until all religion is eliminated from the world and everyone subscribes to their arrogant beliefs.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • dw1650

      Really? I don't recall any agnostics or atheists frequenting my doorbell!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Akira

      The only thing arrogant, besides your sweeping generalization, is thinking that religious beliefs have any place in our secular nation's laws.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • KneonKnight

      In general, atheists do not tend to attempt to force their beliefs on others – that is something that religious (read that as Christians) attempt to do, at least here in the USofA. We are quite content to let you have your beliefs unless and until they affect our lives in this secular nation. Persuading people to the truth by reason and logic is not applying social force, it is assisting otherwise deluded and ignorant people to see reality for what it is, not what they want or what they are told in church.

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

      Atheist have no beliefs to force onto others. That's the whole point you missed. Reason exists of it's own accord. Use or it or not at your own risk of being left out of the forward march of humankind.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • KneonKnight

      @tony

      As an atheist, I must disagree. I do have a belief. I do not believe there are any deities due to lack of evidence. That being said, I do understand the subtle point you are trying to get across.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You're rather stupid, aren't you, wade?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • thisguy

      Yeah, because atheists and agnostics force people to choose the ultimatum of eternal paradise and eternal suffering.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  14. huh

    Good. Less people believing an invisible man in the sky old them what to do and the rest of us are sinners and should be killed is good for the rest of us. It's not as if they actually live according to what they espouse.How about do no harm, take care of your family , take care of your corner of the world, respect each other and yourself.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • wadesworld242

      You mean like respect people who believe in religion?

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

      This is how wadesworld242 defines respect:

      By letting pushy religious people walk all over you. If you don't do this, you're being disrespectful!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  15. caitlyn

    The only things I really dont like about rellgion are the gold statues of him they put everywhere and how they try to force vegetarianism on everyone. other than that I try to practice live and let live

    May 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  16. Sherry Young

    Time for it to just go away for good.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  17. ms jackson

    think of America as a 5 year old who is just realizing the ludicrous implausibilty of Santa, Rudolph, Tinker belle and Freddy Krueger

    May 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  18. Gregg

    Actually, the USA never really had religion. Politicians pretend to have it to get elected. Priests pretend to have it so they can molest little boys. TV evangelists pretend to have it to make boat loads of money. The average Joe pretends to have it so his neighbors and co-workers wont think he is not "normal" Men pretend to have it to keep their wives happy........
    Truth is, if everyone came clean as a believer or non-believer it would be about 10-15% of the population that buy the brainwashing their parents fed them.

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

      ^Truth...

      May 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Aletheya

      Yes, and what's interesting is that, when someone tells you they're religious, ask them "why do you believe?" Most don't have a good answer, other than it's how they were taught by their parents. Most have not truly examined the basis of their faith, compared it to other belief systems and to objective reality. They just believe because they were raised that way. To which I answer, "An unexamined faith is a faith not worth having."

      May 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  19. Michael

    This is great news for lovers of freedom everywhere. For too long have people gotten away with depriving others of freedom while using religion as pretext... and getting away with this in a nation with secular laws, no less. That needs to end.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Reality

      I agree, and I believe in an intelligent creator.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • tony

      Well Reality, then you must believe in the actual human examples of multiple (millions) of individual creators of our own technologies and progress.

      Which means you actually believe in multiple gods. Probably billions of them.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  20. cobalt100

    I won't be satisfied until all these little (and huge) fraudulent companies and franchises are destroyed. Already, people are exiting the pews faster than the water gushing through Mr. Hoover's dam.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Hugh

      You sound tolerant! Just like a true desciple of your religion of Atheism. Your battle is not with flesh and blood my friend. You need to consider things VERY VERY carefully.

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

      Hugh. Are you taking the name of some god in vain to threaten obedience – or else???

      May 29, 2013 at 8:32 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.