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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. Boater39

    Best news I've heard all day!

    May 29, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • DaveLake

      Boater39-I fully agree.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  2. Jim

    I wonder how many have given up their belief in God only to replace it with a belief in karma, which they have more control over.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Austin

      works are not guarantees. Faith is sealed by the Holy Spirit. The only guarantee is one that the Holy Spirit can administer.

      The Spiritual Administrator. Almighty Counselor.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  3. Austin

    Jesus Christ promised the Holy Spirit.

    John 15:26-27
    New International Version (NIV)
    The Work of the Holy Spirit

    26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Austin

      America and Religion, are english words. English is a modern language. God is not modern. He always was and always will be.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  4. AL

    Good and bad news in one. While most think that we finally loosing the religion, the same number think that it is a bad thing.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  5. LWJR

    The influence of Christianity on our culture is waning, growing cold. Soon we will be as uncivilized as the Leninists and Maoists. However, the bible predicts an endtime revival and it's happening in China, Asia, and the non-european countries. endtimesurvivalguide dought calm

    May 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  6. Jude

    Jesus himself hated religion

    May 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  7. jeremy0

    A lot of mis-conceptinos about atheism, marxism groups, and a lot of hatred being spewed out by religious nuts..

    Sounds about right.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  8. Brad Ster

    "Poll: America losing its religion"

    And this is a bad thing? Most of the organized evil in the world can be traced back to a religion.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Rick

      There's a huge difference between christianity and religion. However, If you post comments about true christianity and quite the Bible then your comments get deleted. So much for freedom of speech. "Democratsy" at its best...Way to go CNN.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
  9. brian

    God hates religion. You must be born again.John 3:16. Every knee shall bow either on this side of the cross or other side. Other side is to late.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  10. Derek

    Stalin and Mao would be proud

    May 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • TDM

      Of what?

      May 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  11. F

    Look at the news any morning of any day of any week and see how much violence, how many atrocities, how much hatred, comes from religions. I hope to see a post-religious time, but
    not betting on it.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Chad

      Islam or Christian?

      May 29, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  12. David

    Awesome...I wish I had said that...well said Riz

    May 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  13. Alisa

    Religion so often, from my own experiences and what I have seen, is a base for conflicts.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Chad

      of the 1763 wars we have recorded history of, of 123 (7%) have been cla ssified to involve a religious conflict

      – Axelrod, Alan & Phillips, Charles Encyclopedia of Wars, Facts on File, November 2004, ISBN 978-0-8160-2851-1

      May 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  14. Bill McClain

    Simple. Less religion. More spirituality. Simple.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • baffledbyyourignorance

      Hello Bill, contrary to my post name I am amazed that intelligent people like u are out there.... Spiritual people give me hope & enlighten me, religious people scare the heck out of me.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  15. rizzo

    “I don't know how you feel, but I'm pretty sick of church people. You know what they ought to do with churches? Tax them. If holy people are so interested in politics, government, and public policy, let them pay the price of admission like everybody else. The Catholic Church alone could wipe out the national debt if all you did was tax their real estate.”
    ― George Carlin

    May 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • RobPGH

      I couldn't have said this better myself! Of course, Carlin said a lot of things best. Religion has no place governing our nation. I agree: tax the church. But make sure you put that money to good use; and don't just line the pockets of politicians.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • McGee5123

      Bingo! All of these organized religious groups are dabbling in politics and trying to influence their simple-minded flock along with public policy – it's time to start making them pay their fair share.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  16. The big A

    2% for the better, and the bible thumpers start to sob. Figures.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  17. spudnik56

    That's because religion is for the weak minded..

    May 29, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Chris

      Religion is not for the weak minded, the weak minded ones are those who refuse to believe in a higher being. See, your comment is exactly what's wrong with America today.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  18. shanevb2

    It's about time. God and religion are mankinds worst inventions. Humans will eventually come to their senses

    May 29, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Chad

      How do you know that the God of Israel isnt real?

      May 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • pentecostal

      JESUS forgive's you!

      May 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Cjeddie8

      How do you know that Zeus isnt real?

      May 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chad "How do you know that the God of Israel isnt real? "
      @Cjeddie8 "How do you know that Zeus isnt real?

      @Chad "A. I dont claim that Zeus isnt real
      B. Whatever I say/dont say with respect to Zeus doesnt help you with your claim that the God of Israel isnt real in any way
      C. On what basis do YOU reject the God of Israel as real. (none? You dont have any? You just assume He isnt and proceed from there?)

      May 29, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • RobPGH

      Those who feel it necessary to place all their wrong-doings into the hands of someone/something that doesn't exist is grounds for insanity. It's a blame-out. You get to make all the mistakes you want and then "ask for forgiveness" from an imaginary deity. I've never heard of something more INSANE in my life. I hope the fairytale ends soon. This book's gettin' old.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Istennno

      probably the same way he knows that Vishnu is not. or Odin. or Ra.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • Chad

      @RobPGH Those who feel it necessary to place all their wrong-doings into the hands of someone/something that doesn't exist is grounds for insanity.
      @Chad On what basis have you rejected the reality of the God of Israel?
      What investigation have you done?
      none?

      ===
      @Istennno "probably the same way he knows that Vishnu is not. or Odin. or Ra."
      @Chad "just assumes with no investigation you mean?
      seems shaky..

      May 29, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Pete

      Chad I read the bible and that is my basis for the rejection of Christianity and its god.

      May 30, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  19. ronjayaz

    If Americans are losing their religion, it's because we have ball players pointing to the sky & thanking God? Forgetting that they are setting God up for the bad things he does-like the Ohio kidnapping of the 3 girls-women.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  20. winchester74

    we're not "losing" religion - we are slowly evolving mentally and spiritually to the point where organized, dogmatic religion is no longer necessary.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • JoanthanL

      Its tough leaving religion behind with all the name calling and condemnation, sneers and stares that comes with it. But in the end we are ahead of the game because we are actually forced to cultivate a real sense of better judgment and wisdom based on reality, not mythology.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:45 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.