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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. asdf

    This article is hilarious because its true.

    http://www.11points.com/Books/11_Things_The_Bible_Bans,_But_You_Do_Anyway

    May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Mixo Lydian

      @asdf LOL! Great list.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  2. extranoematic

    In response to Prothero's religious literacy quiz (which included questions about most major world religions), atheists/agnostics, on average scored the highest. Frequently atheists/agnostic were found to know more about Christianity than most Christians. The more educated the populace, the faster that religion will fall away. There's a reason Texas Republicans are anti critical thinking: they know it undermines the myths that fuel their political fire.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  3. Observer

    tony

    "When did you start to ignore gods word in Genesis"

    When did you start to ignore God's words and start opposing slavery and discrimination against women and the handicapped?

    May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • tony

      Errr???

      May 29, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
  4. lets be real

    people with no fear for their soul have no fear of what happens to them on earth. a god less world will be a sad place to live. you see what is happening every day as senseless murders happen for no reason. people don't care about their soul anymore and thus don't care about the others around them and just do as they please. IT IS BETTER TO BELIEVE IN GOD AND BE WRONG IN THE END, BECAUSE IF YOU DONT BELIEVE IN GOD AND HE EXISTS, YOUR IN DEEP TROUBLE

    May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • tony

      But I'm happy and I do good. Is there a punishment for that?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      This has always been a godless world...and universe.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Good grief, not Pascal's wager again.........

      May 30, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Leigh Anne

      I have no problem believing in God......but the man-made religion that claims to have the corner on truth? Forget it.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  5. Grumpster

    We absolutely are better off growing up and not believing in some magical sky fairy that will cure everything. Once we realize that, we can work on being decent to each other without living in fear of some eternal burnt toast smell on us....and the wasted effort, time, and lack of taxes being paid. We could actually do something productive.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Steve

      Then you repeat the same fall as the first man and woman. They thought they could become like God without God. God is pure spirit. He reveals himself to those who seek him. If you are totally set in your disbelief you may never be able to recognize God.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  6. tony

    A missionary is living proof that god does not exist.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  7. Impeach atheists

    Reasons why atheism is horrible and unhealthy for our children and living things:..

    – Atheists do not have any morality, are heartless, soulless and cold.
    – Atheists grew up in a bad family, not being loved and treated bad.
    – Atheism was brought upon during the French Revolution, one of the most evil time of history.
    – Communism – evil system created by atheists!
    – Atheists cannot prove God does not exist and how Earth was created.
    – No atheists contribute to charitable causes, unlike Christians, due to atheism beliefs in Darwinism.
    – Atheism making you agree with mass murder leaders like Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussolini and even Hitler!
    – Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith and belief.
    – Countries with high rate of atheism = high suicide rate (Nordic nations).
    – Atheists tries to convert (young) people into their evil belief over the internet.
    – Atheists believe in evolutions, and want us to act like animals.
    – Atheists bash Christianity based on Jewish scriptures (Old Testament/Torah) and organized religion, and tend to ignore or forget how amazing, loving, friendly, supportive, and excellent the most influential person who has even walked on Earth, Jesus Christ, was.
    – Atheists do not believe in Jesus Christ; therefore they must hate their neighbor and enemy.

    Atheists are minority in the U.S. and the world no matter what "secular" sources and polls voted by few thousands of people tells you that were made up by silly atheists dreaming about making America more atheist, unbiblical and unGodly than what it actually is. More than 90% of Americans believe in God. Period!.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Grumpster

      So we are heartless and soulless? Right...just like the pedo priests. You're delusional.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Jakkfrost

      Cast the first stone I see was lost on you.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I see you're one of those mindless boobs who think typing "Period!" or "Case closed" or "'Nuff said" makes what you wrote true.

      News flash: It doesn't. It just makes you look stupid.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Seriously....listen to yourself....making just asinine assumptions...pulling the crap right out of thin air. What a pompous a*h0le you are...if there were a god, he'd hate you for being an a$s.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Observer

      Mindless garbage that you don't have the guts to stick around and defend.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Oh I do believe in god, oh I do believe in god, Oh I do, I do, I do, I do, I DO believe in god.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • mark

      You sir, are the poster boy for delusion.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Hate much?

      You're delusional.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • The big A

      ... and along comes stupid!

      Ignorance really must be bliss.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • vivian m

      If God exists why do we need religion? If God does not exist, why do we need religion?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "- Atheists do not have any morality, are heartless, soulless and cold."

      Most atheists have a moral system; it just has nothing to do with a god which is the only issue to which atheism speaks. One issue is ontology, the other ethics. If you don't know the difference you shouldn't even be in the discussion. The rest of your points are as silly as the first. Try getting an education and then come back to join the adults..

      May 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Tony Messina

      You’re absolutely wrong and incredibly ignorant. If your so smart, can you tell me what Jefferson meant by the words “platonic christians”? Real men know that Jesus is dead and he's never coming back.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Educated

      Take a basic logic class.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Bottom Line

      Thank you for that, Impeach atheists! And besides that, the bottom line is that they much prefer to continue sinning and doing the things that are against God and His teachings as that choice is easier for them. And they can do that you know. However, there are Consequences to those actions of not following the word of God and just living it up. So, being in continual denial of God's teachings and not accepting Him can only breed Dire Consequences when those people die and meet God in Heaven for the judgment that most surely happens. If you don't believe that, hey, all you have to do is continue on your present course and path and put it to the hard test! But enter into Heaven you cannot. That truly is the Bottom Line According To God!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • A.G. McMurry

      Dude, besides being way way off on your views.. I guess you are not Christian because even if we were all that you wrote, you are not showing any belief in your own words. I do think your book says.about hate..John 13:34-35
      A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

      I have read the bible and other books of fiction like Superman and Batman when I was younger.. Guess you have not.. now who is the hater.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  8. hunbeesara

    By "religion", does this mean "church"? I know a lot of people whom I would call "religious", but they do not go to a church.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  9. Tonyh Messina

    Absolutely wonderful. It’s about time. All of our lives have been damaged by this Abrahamic make believe trash for over 2000 years and it’s about time that it loses its evil grip on the world. These numbskulls that claim the earth is flat and less than 9000 years old, this is the misery that mankind has been suffering under.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  10. Atheism 101

    Religion never made people better humans – on the contrary, millions have been murdered over the course of history on religious background. There are many good-hearted people in the world who help others in times of need yet they don't believe in God. Nothing wrong with atheism!

    May 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Tony Messina

      This is soooo true Atheism 101. You got it right.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  11. tony

    Love is what make the World go Round. We just need to stop ascribing Love to some god or other.

    Clearly Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Earthqukes and Parting the Red Sea are not acts of Love.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  12. Edd0

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

    May 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • The answer is to

      know, not no; lol.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Get used to it....there is no Santa Clause for adults...that's all God is. The rest of us grew up.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  13. joe

    They will call the evil good and the good evil.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • And he shall

      know your ways as if born to them...

      May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  14. Chris

    Losing religion might not be a bad thing, provided there is another stopgap solution to a) temporarily 'answer' questions that science has not yet to discover, b) controlling society in a way that is socially revolutionary without using guilt as a foundation, and c) getting humanity on board with treating other human beings with love and respect. The more educated folks become, the better the chances of finding said solution (psst! It already exists...)

    May 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  15. Silver Back

    Regardless of what is going on with religion as America knows it, America will never understand what it's like to have your beliefs taken from you because someone told you their God is better. America is now feeling the wrath of Karma, in more ways than one, including immigration! Welcome to the world of "what goes around, comes around."

    May 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  16. Jaun

    Perhaps some of you people should run for office. What do we have to lose?

    May 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  17. Truth Revealing Itself

    Already in this very article presented, coupled by the majority of God-less comments, we are seeing the Truth presented in the following Scripture by God. "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it." - AMOS 8:11-12 (KJV)

    May 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • asdf

      Leviticus 11:10 reads, "But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you." Don't eat those shellfish or you are going to hell.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Silver Back

      @ asdf; religion has been crying the same tune for hundreds of years, since the dark ages. "The end is near, just look at the signs?"

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

      Leviticus 19:19 reads, "You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together."

      Polyester is out too. All those people in the 1970s are going to hell.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • The big A

      “The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
      But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
      mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.”
      ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

      I win because J.R.R. Tolkien is real!

      How pathetic!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • asdf

      Leviticus 19:28 reads, "You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord."

      All those d_uche bags with barbed wire tats are going to hell also.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • asdf

      It's Genesis 38:9-10: "Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother's wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also."

      Yep - pull out and get smote. That's harsh.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Sounds like something from an ad agency.....Scripture.....by God.
      "Scripture was written – and re-written – by men. Men seeking power. Wake up.

      May 30, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  18. GGinSanDiego

    Americans are losing their religion? Hooray! Time to celebrate. We Americans need to hone our critical thinking and objective reasoning skills – less hocus pocus, faith-based nonsense, more fact-based, scientific learning, knowledge and education.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • oldleftcoastdude

      Amen to that!! (pun intended).

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

      The headline reads: America Losing Its Religion- and I say, "Thank God for that!"

      May 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  19. kennyzales

    The loss of religion does not kill God. It kills our antiquated man-made constructions about our Creator. Now there is a perfect void in which each individual can construct for themselves the purpose and meaning (or lack thereof) of all creation. My faith is as strong and unwavering as can be possible because it exists from within me. No one will ever influence how I believe because what I know is true in my heart and soul is not open for negotiation. I live in perfect peace and harmony with atheists. I expect them to do the same with me.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  20. Misterwire

    All of you saying God is dead will find out just before you close your eyes that he is alive. I just do not understand how you people can stand on a firm ground that you did not make, breathe air that you did not make, eat chicken, pork and vegetables that you cannot command into existence and still insult the creator who made it all possible. This is being ungrateful and I pray that the most merciful and compassionate God – Jehovah will forgive all of you and bring you guys to his son Jesus Christ our Lord and savior. His judgment is real and none of you Wimpey’s will be able to stand before him on the Day of Judgment. You Wimpey’s will all be looking for your mum and dad to save you that day but it will be you and the Lord. You will never blame ignorance, atheist’s, America or your friends for your blasphemy. Get away from this wicked atheist crowd and start glorifying God for all his goodness today. He is love and must be worshiped for all he has been doing for us. Christ is the Lord! He is coming soon!! Amen!!!

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

      Problem is his coming has been predicted as very soon for the last 1000 years.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • eflows

      Here's an idea: since nobody, including you, knows anything at all about what happens after death, you can believe what you choose to believe, and others can choose to believe what they wish as well.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • icarus_303

      What's it like living in your fantasy? Where the only "proof" of god cannot actually be proved? God is an imaginary friend for adults 🙂

      May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Jan

      If he were to exist in the form you believe, which it surely doesn't, I would be happy to meet it and tell him how bad he has performed as a God. Any six year old could do better. He needs to go back to god school.

      "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
      Then he is not omnipotent.

      Is he able, but not willing?
      Then he is malevolent.

      Is he both able and willing?
      Then whence cometh evil?

      Is he neither able nor willing?
      Then why call him God?"

      Epicurus

      May 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • JP

      I am sure you didn't make your children either!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • ..

      LOL Oooooh, tough guy. Asshat.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:51 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.