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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. Black Dynamite

    The #1 reason America is finally casting off religion is..........RELIGION!
    BD

    May 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  2. Maria O'Connor

    Maybe there are a superior being, but I doubt he or she has anything to do with religions. God is nature. The Virgin Mother is a worldwide myth and represents the earth, pregnant with crops, by the rain and sun (God in the heavens). The holy trinity is the storm (rain, thunder, lighting). The "blonde" god of Aztecs, Mayas, Incas and others is the Sun.
    Anyway, when we pray we feel peaceful and is a good feeling. Religion was used to control people, since the beginnings of the times.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Maria O'Connor

      Religion does not equal morality or ethics values. However, I respect the freedom of religious people, as well as the freedom of non-religious people.

      May 29, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  3. Atheist

    Religion is nothing more than a mental crutch for the weak of mind. There is no higher power. There are no gods. ALL religions exist for one purpose - TO CONTROL THE UNEDUCATED MASSES THROUGH FEAR OF GOING TO SOME FORM OF ETERNAL DAMNATION OR SOME FAIRYTALE HEAVEN FULL OF CUTE LITTLE VIRGINS TO SERVE YOU. RIDICULOUS!

    May 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Rodboy

      At, I think we will stick with our God for now , until you brainy people come up with the source of matter ans energy, right now YOU are stuck, with some ideas but they all end at MATTER – plus if I am wrong I will be where you are, if you are wrong, I will be toasting marshmallows on your forehead.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • cm

      Weak minds- my ass. There were and are great men and woman of faith that could totally surpass your mind and intelligence by leaps.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  4. liz

    Less religion is not a worse alternative to bad religion

    May 29, 2013 at 4:54 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:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUeQXmYVamA&w=640&h=360]

    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 4:54 pm |
    • liz

      Thanks

      May 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  6. Blake

    It's about time!! Religion has bred more hatred over the centuries than anything else in existance.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Rodboy

      Blake another half-baked thought Let us look – Hitler 12 mil, stalin 30 mil, mao 25 mil, pot pol 5 mil, romans 20 mil, so Blake these are big numbers, so want to rethink you idea of who is evil?????

      May 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • James

      ugh rodboy you are an idiot. Hitler claimed Jesus was an Aryan fighting the Jews.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Joey

      The Romans were religious, as in they worshiped gods, and then they were Christian, but nice try anyway.

      May 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  7. Chuck88888

    Hmmm.... the picture of The "Reason" Rally shows less racial diversity than any Tea Party rally I've seen.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • kd

      That is a very good point.

      May 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • jheron

      haha..true observation...but there is more diversity in age groups, and Atheists tend to be against racial profiling. Tea Party members tend to only be against profiling when the IRS is profiling them.

      May 29, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • musicguy

      The two have absolutely nothing to do with one another. The only possible connection may be Ayn Rand, the ideological root of the Tea Party who was also an atheist.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  8. capnmike

    Religion is complete baloney, invented by humans to deal with stuff they didn't understand and kept going with fear and lies. Fortunately more people are waking up to the fact that "god" does not exist, prayer is a waste of time,and that religion is an enormous hoax. It's too bad that the main mass of humanity are brainwashed into believing all that nonsense, especially to the point of killing each other over whose version of the Big Lie is the "right" one. We as a species need to GROW UP!

    May 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  9. In God We Trust

    1,500 people out of 315 million? WoooooW

    May 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • CP in FL

      So your suggestion would be to poll every person in our country? If you understand statistics, you would know that a sample size of 1500 people out of over 300 million is a sufficient size to make predictions within a small margin or error. If anything, the percentage of people who do not believe in god is larger than the poll indicates because of people lying and saying they believe in god so that they are not confronted by others that may be present that still believe in that nonsense.

      May 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • James

      Yeah it's scary that there are that many people who believe in Santa Claus. Oh wait I meant Jesus. Did you know that Christians basically stole the story of Jesus? The ancient Egyptians and Greeks each had that story but under a different name. Look up Horus who was around thousands of years before Jesus.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:16 am |
  10. jheron

    Its a good sign.
    The reason why people fear a lack of religion probably has to do with the fact that we are taught lack of religion equals lack of morality, and that's why Empires fall like the Roman Empire (which isn't true at all, but that is how things are presented).
    People are more caring and moral now in many aspects than at other times in history...especially to people that are different to themselves.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  11. Randyb12

    Maybe the atheist prayer is working: "God, save my from thy followers!"

    May 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  12. George Karlson

    Over/Under 10 years until Incest is legal?

    May 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • jheron

      Nonsense.

      May 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Jesse from KC

      I hope this is a troll. If so, good on you.

      May 29, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • musicguy

      What does that have to do with this article? Unless YOU want incest to be legal perhaps?

      May 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • LinCA

      @George Karlson

      You said, "Over/Under 10 years until Incest is legal?"
      You bring up a very valid point. If all those dimwitted believers actually realize that they are not being supervised 24 hours a day, they may very well let loose completely. Get enough of these morons together and the may very well legalize murder, rape and incest.

      May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Joey

      Why George? Do you want to bang your daughter or something?

      May 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  13. Islam is the only truly Religion !!

    ALLAHU AKBAR!!!!!!!!

    May 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • capnmike

      Allayu Nutbar!

      May 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • pentecostal

      its man made fool!!

      May 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • James

      Islam is the only true religion! I know this cause my Mommy and Daddy told me!

      May 30, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  14. Purple Monster

    I am your new god the purple monster, I am just as good as your old god because I was also made up just like he was. Oh I work in mysterious ways so don't go questioning when I do things that kill innocent by the hundreds or thousands because you know, mysterious ways but it's all for good but i can't say any more because that would make mysterious ways less mysterious.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  15. pedagoguish

    The Christians have only themselves to blame for declining interest in religion. By espousing extremist political positions they alienate the average person. Christians should attend to saving souls and keep their political opinions to themselves.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • DemFromSC

      And I, for one, would like to help them along in that process by removing all tax exemptions for religious organizations. If you want to have your own little make-believe club, that's fine, but don't expect me to like donating taxes to pay for it.

      May 29, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • pedagoguish

      In the words of my pastor, "Amen."

      May 29, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  16. Mohamiss Shafique-Kaddir

    This is good news . With less Christians , it will be easyer for Islamists to conquer America . Thank you Dhimmi Obama .

    May 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Purple Monster

      You can wish but we find your religion just as stupid and will fight it till it is gone

      May 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • James

      spoken like a true fanatic

      May 30, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  17. MagicPanties

    Soon the precious baby Geezus will join Zeus and Ra and..

    May 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  18. ME II

    @Belief Blog,

    You have access to all the comments on this blog; I wonder if it would be possible to do a study about the comments?
    Perhaps occurrences of certain words, or number of believer vs non, or level of anger based on words used.

    It would be interesting I think.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  19. Jez

    Thank the goddess! CNN did a great pictorial article on athiests:
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/25/living/gallery/atheists/index.html?hpt=hp_c4

    One man is quoted as saying that all of us are Athiests when it comes to gods that mankind created in the past; some of us just go one god further. I highly recommend clicking on the above link.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • ME II

      "If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul." – Asimov

      ... awesome!

      May 29, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  20. I Am God

    A more religious country? For whom? Christians? Muslims? Mormons? And so on and so forth? A more religious country will not be good for the country. Want to know why? Look at the Middle East.

    May 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • In God We Trust

      Islam is different from Christianity

      May 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • I Am God

      In God We Trust. I am just naming off religions.

      May 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • James

      Islam might be different then Christianity but a fanatic is a fanatic

      May 30, 2013 at 8:21 am |
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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.