home
RSS
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. An early Roman

    I'm certain that guy is pulling the sun across the sky with some horses and a chariot.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  2. averse

    I don't see religious people crying about atheists, only atheist whiners complaining and crying about everyone else. You are irrelevant and stop forcing your Godless filth on people, works both ways. Atheists try so hard to be heard but reality is no one cares what u believe or think u don't change anyone's mind and nobody cares what you have to say against religion. atheism and nationalism is everything that's wrong with Western societies and this is why USA is so far down the craphole.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Saraswati

      If nobody cared, atheism wouldn't be the fastest growing god belief in the US.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Answer

      The christard rants "this country is in the craphole because we're losing religion."

      Go fvck yourself.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • averse

      The laws of this country were found on religious principles no matter how much u deny it all laws are derived from religious laws with slight modification. atheists are a modern nuisance and even if their numbers grow it will not help lead us into some kind of golden age, even if does, it would be before collapse of society induced by atheists. Look at France lol

      May 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      We're not here to change your mind. You're a lost cause. We are here to present the facts of reality divorced from superstition and mythology. The voive of preaching religiots nearly drown out those of reason and rationality. We are that voice for those seeking real answers...not fantasy and transcendental gibberish.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • dibsdone

      Christian persecution is a myth! If anything the use of the persecution argument is only to keep your critics quiet. It's called persecution politics. The religious right is the biggest threat to our democracy. The separation of church and state is not only to protect our religious freedom but to protect the religions themselves. Once we have a christian theocracy it will be seen as the tool of oppression.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • dibsdone

      Implying that all laws and morals are from religion is very shallow thinking. Morals can be derived from reason without a made up story or some eternal afterlife to enforce morals. I would argue an atheists morals are more rational and real, significantly less hypocritical.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Me

      You don't see religions people crying about Atheist? Are you blind? Your post is one small example of religious cry babies crying about Atheist. Want more? Ok, How about the "Christians" that b! tch and moan about other religions celebrating around Christmas time. "We don't want to see a menorah" "We don't want to see a star of David" "This is Christmas, it's all about Christ" WRONG!! Christmas stems from the Winter celebrations of the PAGANS (like most Christian holidays). Christ was not born any where near that time of year. Why it is ok to force Christianity on people, but if you say you do not believe, you are looked at like you have horns and a tail. Why is it ok for everyone to pray at every little event, but when one basketball player that is Muslim wants to pray his way, he is looked down upon. Christians are hypocrites. They tell you to love everyone, but they hate gays.

      Christians try so hard to be heard but reality is no one cares what u believe or think u don't change anyone's mind and nobody cares what you have to say against religion. Christianity and nationalism is everything that's wrong with Western societies and this is why USA is so far down the craphole.

      BTW, NO I am not Atheist. But I am not Christian either. I am Agnostic. Being a Christian, I am sure you have no idea what that means. Look it up.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Godless filth? Nobody cares what atheists think? Apparently you do, oh mentally deficient one.

      May 30, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  3. Anton

    Good.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  4. Ed

    It is true that religion is a man made concept. Systems created by men have never been perfect and definitely aren't sacred.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  5. Pat

    I think you might be confusing religion with spirituality when referencing what we need. We don't need more religion, we need more spirituality. We don't need more religion we need less hypocrisy. We don't need more religion, we need more humanitarianism. We don't need more religion – we need to recognize that the human world is deeply interconnected to the animal and plant world and our salvation can only come from us.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Austin

      and you will be spiritually cursed without God authorizing freedom and rest through His Son who is the victor over evil. You cant put evil in its place without the armor of God. You can fix a problem, but you cant deal with the root cause without the Son of God, without His authority. The Word is True.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Me

      Well said. Religion is politics. Spirituality is from the heart and soul.

      Austin, You are spiritually lost if you believe what you just said. There is no one "God". There is no one religion.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  6. Gorsh

    If this pole is proof that religion is losing influence, then poles showing Americans deny evolution prove that evolution is false.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Answer

      You've got a 'pole' stuck up your arse.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Austin

      I experienced revelation of the Holy Spirit. Which was the Holy Spirit telling me what I was going to be reading the next day in the bible by giving me dreams of things I didn't know i was going to read. It was supernatural and the message just happened to be interested in the bible ..

      This was the supernatural God revealing Himself through His word.

      It was radical.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Danno

      "Poll'. Now what amazing comparison were you trying to make?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Gorsh

      Answer
      Do you have critical reasoning skills? Are you a smart, rational person? Then you know this pole showed only what Americans believed the trend to be. Anyone even passingly aware of rationality or logic would know that it does not prove a trend.

      You should learn to think and be less of a dickmunch.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Answer

      If you can even spell you maggot.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Gorsh

      Sorry.. Poll

      May 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Saraswati

      No one in their right mind is claiming this proves religion is losing its influence – we have plenty of other studies providing convincing evidence of that. But this particular perception is not only interesting as a measure of what people believe they see around them personally but has previously aligned with drops in religiosity.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Gorsh

      Answer, I am sure you knew that this was an opinion POLL, not any factual study with evidential weight, right? Or are you really that slow?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Austin

      dickmunch aahaaha

      May 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Gorsh

      Saraswati, if you are claiming that a solid majority of people posting here actually understood the nature o the poll, you haven't read many of the posts. I guaranty the half wit Answer had no clue. He didn't even understand what I was saying.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  7. Soda

    Who cares, religion is nothing more than mind control of the masses.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
  8. dm lane

    I can not see any reason why this is a bad thing...religion is control, belief is perception...

    May 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • dibsdone

      I couldn't agree more! Religion is a way to control the masses. Get scared to death, don't think, and then perform hypocritical amoral acts in the name of said religion.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  9. Robert

    Yes, let's get rid of all the ancient wisdom teachings and spiritual traditions and forget about our place in the creation and lose an inheritance prepared for us from the time before time, we don't need that garbage any more, now we have twitter and facebook..

    May 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • Danno

      Says the guy on the internet.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  10. robert

    guess it's time for another war, since religion is the reason most wars are fought

    May 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • k

      No my friend the reason most wars start and continue is greed: money and power. Religion has just taken the hit.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  11. So what?

    Who cares?

    May 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  12. Dan

    I laugh at the notion of a "religious" America. Everywhere I look, I see people embracing modern society and shoehorning their beliefs into how they want to live their lives. The people of this country are American first, Christians second, with few exceptions. It's only a matter of time that religion dies off in the US just as it has in many other developed nations.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  13. Billy

    Good news to hear less people are being duped by the church and buying in to such a lethal ideology.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  14. Charlotte, NC

    "In the last days, perilous times will come." This is just the beginning. One day the elements will melt and all the wicked and false prophets will be sent to a burning lake of fire in hell. Jesus Christ is still saving souls. Please turn around and believe in him today. 🙂

    May 29, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Answer

      And with that smiley face .. you'll get a blow job also.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • dibsdone

      Oh that should scare them into believing. Good Job! Fear and hate are the best incentives to have morals.-

      May 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • pentecostal

      amen! charlotte. JESUS giving us time to repent of jesus says And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  15. LL

    Funny....Religion, as opposed to spirituality, is merely a man made set of rules and list of beliefs.

    If America is losing its religion, it is just formulating another set of rules and beliefs...just not on church letterhead.

    When will people learn...religion is not the same as faith or spirituality? Completely different concepts altogether.

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

      spirituality, indigestion...it is the same thing.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  16. Roslyn

    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you to the heavens.

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

      Fear your death all you want. You're still gonna be dead and buried in dirt.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Austin

      no she wont. Our spirit has a different shell waiting. And it is called a Glorified Body.

      Jesus Promised the Holy Spirit. thats why religion and america are just modern words for modern rejects.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Answer

      Sure right.. comfort that small mind.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • ItSoNlYmE

      If you can look at, much less fly to the moon without being utterly awed, then religion isn't going to help you. If there is a "God" (and there isn't, not in the way "Christians" believe – an old bearded white guy sitting in the clouds), then why did he give mankind the smarts to figure out how to fly to the moon? I just love how "religious" (sic) people have to believe it's all or nothing. My way or the highway. God is on our side (which is always what the other side says and believes just as fervently, if not more so than you). Karl Marx was right about one thing: religion is the opiate of the people. And I would add, a quick fix for those incapable of thinking for themselves. All the answers are right here in this little box. Everything you need to know is contained herein. No need to think for yourself. No sir. Just open the box. Poof. Fantasy stories for small minds.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Austin

      my experience with God is written out and this is no figment of the imagination what God has done in my life. :There is no way I could have experienced what i did without a sovereign and genius God there dictating the actions and spiritual breakthrough from the invisible to the all powerful master of all life.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  17. Annoyed

    Uh, religion is losing it's influence? What religion? America is NOT any one religion it's all religions, therefore any one religion shouldn't have influence.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Me

      Exactly! This country is based on freedom of religion, not freedom of Christianity. That's what most people don't understand. This USA motto of "In God We Trust" is crap.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  18. jzzz

    Religion is the skidmark of mankind....good riddance.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  19. CRC

    If you teach people all through their education that everything is just a big lucky accident and there is no God what would you expect??? We are paying the price for this now.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Whereas if you tell them it's all a plan by some vindictive prick who sets people against one another then things will turn out sooooo much better...right?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • ItSoNlYmE

      Funny, you can read pretty much the exact same words written in the 15th Century. Yep, we're paying the price.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • vulpes

      There is no evidence for your insinuation.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • GTA

      If you teach people all through their childhood that if they pray hard enough then God will help them instead of others, then you end up with some really disappointed and/or screwed up people. What did you expect?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • dibsdone

      No one should be teaching it was all a matter of "chance". None of this just appeared one day. It EVOLVED slowly. It wasn't 500 slot machines hitting the jackpot all at once. It was one dial of each slot machine hitting jackpot and then it was held there until the next one hit the jackpot until eventually all 500 machines say jackpot. Lots of useless pulls of the handle along the way.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  20. Insert sarcastic remark here

    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."

    ___________________________________________

    In a related poll, a large percentage of people that do something with high frequency believe more of that thing is a good thing, compared to a smaller percentage of people of those that do the same thing but with less regularity.

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

      No kidding.

      There's that old saying: sitting in church doesn't make one a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes one a car.

      I don't think organized religion makes for a good Christian, anyway; it's following the tenets of faith Jesus laid out, if one believes in him...
      I don't think many people grasp that, myself.

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

      Yeah! Just what I was thinking! Duh. I love your username, btw.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78
Advertisement
About this blog

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.