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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. LouAZ

    Oh, he gave me special instructions back of the pulpit Christmas Eve. He got to howlin' "Repent! Repent!" and I got to moanin' "Save me! Save me!" and the first thing I know he rammed the fear of God into me so fast I never heard my old man's footsteps! – Lulu Bains in Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis 1927.
    Thank god I'm an athiest. Ha! Ha! Ha!

    May 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  2. Mick

    Religion is finished. The internet will be its demise. Before the internet, did you know that the Bible contains many self-contradictions, numerous atrocities committed by an egotistical and murderous Old Testament God, and a story of a talking donkey? Religion thrives on darkness and absolute authority, which the internet has shat all over and killed.

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

      Yes, knowledge is power.
      Religion is fueled by ignorance.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • asdf

      >Religion thrives on darkness and absolute authority, which the internet has shat all over and killed.

      Been over to wikipedia lately or seen what the Dept of Homeland Security has done under Obama to domains? Wish I shared your optimism but as many posters on here are showing ignorance is often willful.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  3. Kim

    If everyone had ONE religion (Christianity) the world would be in peace

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

      Yeah, same is true for Islam, or Buddhism, or Scientology, or....
      Wait, you're full of crap.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • BukkakeJack

      You misspelled "NO" with "ONE".

      May 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • SoulOne GodKiller

      That has to be the most insulting comment I have yet to see, you are an arrogant ignorant twit of a slit.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • The big A

      LIE!

      Pieces is more like it. Your invisible friend is no better than any of the others.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  4. Yeeeeeeeahhhhhh

    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!

    PS: Thank God for the cancer and death of Christopher Hitchens at young age. His punishment for spreading false hatred of our creator! 🙂

    May 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      My invisible pink unicorn is praying that you get a clue.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Just a Guy

      You and your god embody the meaning of hate.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Mark Marcie

      narrow minds like yours saved nobody and killed countless lives.
      If we wanted we could wipe out your kind, so please do not push us.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Stephen Hawking.

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

      All those that do not follow Greek Mythology will suffer for eternity at the hands of Hades.

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

      All christians I have ever met treat people like dirt and are hypocrites.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Name*penguin

      This is the most ignorant post I've ever read.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • DB

      This is literally the most illogical, opinionated thing I have ever read. When was the last time Atheists started a war? They have no need for it.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • mama k

      Atheism means only one thing, one doesn't believe in a god or gods, nothing more. Ideologies of any stripe taken to extremes get people killed. That you mix concepts like atheism and twisted ideologies of dictators of past failed regimes just highlights your stupidity on the matter.......

      May 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • SoulOne GodKiller

      You pray to a serial killer, if you get near my children, I will skin you alive for the betterment of humanity.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • Mick

      Oh, relax, people...he's a troll with lots of time on his hands.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Bamador

      – Atheists do not have any morality, are heartless, soulless and cold.
      False
      – Atheists grew up in a bad family, not being loved and treated bad.
      False
      – Atheism was brought upon during the French Revolution, one of the most evil time of history.
      "Most evil time"? Let's look at the Crusades and the atrocities committed there.
      – Communism – evil system created by atheists!
      It looks good on paper, but sign me up for the economic system that rewards effort (capitalism)
      – Atheists cannot prove God does not exist and how Earth was created.
      You can not prove it either, a book written around 300 AD by a group of men does not qualify. Give me tangible scientific proof and we will talk. Until then it will be a mystery.
      – No atheists contribute to charitable causes, unlike Christians, due to atheism beliefs in Darwinism.
      Again, FALSE. There are PLENTY of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc, etc, etc charities. And you don't think atheists don't contribute? Fool.
      – Atheism making you agree with mass murder leaders like Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussolini and even Hitler!
      SUPER FALSE!
      – Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith and belief.
      *sigh* really?
      – Countries with high rate of atheism = high suicide rate (Nordic nations).
      Bad for the Nords. Now what has that got to do with the US?
      – Atheists tries to convert (young) people into their evil belief over the internet.
      If you mean to inform people and get them to make up their own minds instead of following the teachings of a religion that shelters pedophiles? Guilty.
      – Atheists believe in evolutions, and want us to act like animals.
      WHAT?
      – 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.
      And religious leaders will quote, chapter and verse, passages from the Old Testament/Torah that completely go against the teachings of the amazing, loving, friendly, supportive, and excellent the most influential person who ever walked the Earth, Jesus Christ? Just ask the Gay population.
      – Atheists do not believe in Jesus Christ; therefore they must hate their neighbor and enemy.
      Nice logic, just kidding.

      PS: Thank God for the cancer and death of Christopher Hitchens at young age. His punishment for spreading false hatred of our creator! 🙂
      Jesus Christ was compassionate. He loved his enemy as much, or more, as he loved his friends. He never said a bad word about ANYONE. Take a step back and look at the teaching you hold so dear and ask yourself if you are a good Christian.

      Then again I might have just fed a troll.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • BukkakeJack

      you're an 1d1ot.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  5. 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 8:49 pm |
    • mama k

      Interestingly, Dr. Dennett thinks that all children should be taught about all major religions.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Bamador

      I believe the operative word there is ALL major religions.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Key words "taught about"...not taught to believe in.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
  6. Name*penguin

    One can believe in God without believing in "religion". The Bible has been used as a reason to support slavery, white supremecy, subjugation of women, and several other social ills. The sooner we drop religion and still maintain faith, the better off society will be

    May 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  7. Gorsh

    most misleading poll ever.

    The poll measured how many Americans THINK religion is losing influence. It is not a study showing an actual reduction. What Americans THINK is truth is not evidence of truth.

    Something like 50% of Americans think God created the world 10,000 years ago or less. That doesn't make it so.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  8. MagicPanties

    My invisible pink unicorn says to just look in the corners.
    You will find enlightenment.
    Or maybe the keys you lost.
    Or an old sock.
    Or who knows, what can it hurt?

    May 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  9. Kate Long

    good riddance!

    May 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  10. Yeeeeeeeahhhhhh

    Thank GOD atheist Christopher Hitchens got cancer and died only at age 62 😀 his punishment

    May 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • The real Tom

      How do you account for the very religious man I knew who died at 60? Who was punishing him?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      You're welcome.
      Now, for my next trick, you too will die.
      However, you will forever be ignorant.
      So sorry.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • The big A

      Yup! That is about twice as long as your jesus. His punishment! 😀

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

      Fla. megachurch pastor Zachery Tims found dead in NY hotel

      (CBS/AP) NEW YORK – Florida megachurch pastor Zachery Tims was found dead in a New York City hotel room on Friday, according to police.

      A white powdery substance believed to be narcotics was discovered on the body, The Wall Street Journal reports.

      New York City police said 42-year-old Orlando pastor was found dead on the floor of a room at the W Hotel in Times Square late Friday afternoon. There was no criminal activity suspected. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

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

      Another Westboro Baptist full of Christian love and compassion heard from.

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

      What a typical loving xtian sentiment.......being thankful that another human being got cancer and died. And you wonder why the rest of us are disgusted with your kind.

      May 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  11. Daniel Silver

    It's about time! Religion is a joke.

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

      The joke is that you took this poll to mean that religion was actually losing influence. Read it again and use critical thinking skills.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  12. FSM

    Religion has inspired some of the greatest music and architecture the world has seen. It has also caused many of the most atrocities the world has witnessed throughout history from the Mayans to Hitler and many of the Muslim on Muslim and Muslim and other religion internecine strife. Many of the “Christians” today have a sever anti-science bent which could set this country back centuries much as the Muslim religion has set back the Arab countries. That is why I’ll take the flying spaghetti monster as the one true being.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  13. Over 40,000 sects of insanity

    The U.S. has always been predominantly Christian. But it seems the more time goes by, the more conflicted that majority religion becomes. Perhaps that is becoming more obvious to people, especially the younger generation, and that is why we are seeing a decline overall religiosity of the population.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one (over 4,000,000 members) in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage. One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags". Many of these sects are equally divergent on the roles of women in society.

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri. Some believe the Pope is the Antichrist. Some believe Obama is the Antichrist.

    Some believe that celibacy is the only option for certain people, or for people in certain positions. Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but pretend not to understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease.

    Conflicted right from the start, Christianity continues to splinter, creating more and more extreme divisions, with each division trying to assert itself as some true messenger of the word of the Christian God.

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    (Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

    May 29, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • BukkakeJack

      ....And all of them are 1d1ots.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  14. Hhmmmmmm

    60 000 converts to Christianity every day in the world

    May 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • .

      What part of the world, though. Perhaps, the poorest and dumbest?

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

      20000 Americans Convert To ISLAM Each Year

      Just as depressing.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfx4glTU5JQ

      May 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      60.000 a day equals 22 million a year. The population of earth increases by 135 million per year. Looks like the christians are falling behind.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  15. Mixo Lydian

    I'm an atheist, and it's a good thing.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  16. Jeff

    God hates flags!

    May 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  17. hatemongering

    My introduction to religion was (1) my dad screaming at me about how God made women inferior and wants them to be controlled by men; and (2) my dad screaming at me about how gays are evil and going to h e l l. His hateful rants were backed up by the hateful rants we heard at church.

    Religion has always seemed to me to be all about hate. When I hear anything about it I feel the same way I felt listening to my dad or our pastor tear down women and gays. No thank you, I will not join your hate group/church. I love my fellow human beings too much for that.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  18. carlos333777

    No empire where GOD was taken out of the equation, and where good was called evil, and where evil was called good has ever survived. Unfortunately the USA is in the crosshairs of this historical fact, and shall eventually be destroyed by rampant immorality. Any nation where minorities impose their ideologies on the majority is doomed to the garbage heap of history.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Mixo Lydian

      Ottoman?

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

      carlos, name ANY civilization that has 'survived' in its original form. Go ahead.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  19. anti-nothing

    Next time Stephen Hawking is saying he can form universes from nothing at the talks he gives, someone should ask him to prove it, maybe ask him to bring out a galaxy or something and show people. Maybe they cut it out of the video. I wanted to see it.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Now you're just trolling. No one is that willfully stupid.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Where and when did Hawking say this, anti panti?

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

      Cool you going to wheel out zombie jesus for us to talk to?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      He never said he could do it. He said it could happen. Quite a difference...if you have basic thinking skills.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Well, anti-panty obviously didn't manage to comprehend what was said. Shocker!

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

      The Multiverse/Multi Universe Hypothesis is one prime example of miserably failing the Occam's razor Principle!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • asdf

      The Multiverse/Multi Universe Hypothesis is one prime example of miserably failing the Occam's razor Principle!

      Which may very well be why it ultimately won't be built on top of going forward. Occams razor is not always correct. Quantum theory proves just how bat sh_t crazy reality can be.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • BukkakeJack

      Your god doesn't exist.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  20. DB

    This is great news, not bad. Imagine if we believed in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy into adulthood. Even started wars and killed over it. Haha. Imagine that. Or even for using a biology textbook. When was the last time a war was started by two scientists using reason and the scientific process to understand something? Never. We need to be scientifically literate so it's a good thing America is losing it's religion, because it is basically the opposite of science and reason.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:40 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.