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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. amalek

    Looks like "god of israel" is losing influence

    oy vey what will jews do now that they cant tell you your god is a jew

    there will be less of shekels i guess ? lol

    May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Minerva

      They won't say anything because Jews don't tell other people their god is a jew.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  2. DaveLake

    It seems to me the smartest people in the last hundred years would have a good grasp on religion. Lets see-Hawking-Feynman-Einstein-Higgs-Warren Buffet-Sagan-Susskind-Hmmm-all are atheists. And this is just a beginning list. I think their take on reality is indeed important.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Atheists in Science & Technology

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_science_and_technology

      May 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  3. mike

    This is what happens according to the bible.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Observer

      mike,

      Do you mean slavery? Discrimination against women? Discrimination against the handicapped? Unicorns?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Austin

      I roe organize that lingo. "observer" what is your daytime handle?

      The God of the bible is powerful and capable enough of making Himself known. And I for one Have witnessed the work if the Holy Spirit. Did you know it's real and not some story? He is risen.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  4. jim

    I see it as a good trend.

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

      me too.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  5. Nino Dagostino

    I used to believe in God I was raised to. I went to Church and noticed conflicts in the bible who was written by men. they told thier point of view 2000 years ago and as far back as 4000. Since then we were able to explain a lot of things. I lost my Religion 3 years ago permenently. I have been at peace and acceptance. I don't care if you practice religion if it makes you feel good. Just that Religion running our country and acknowledging God is a big No No. Keep it seperated forever. and keep your religion to yourself.

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

      People vastly need to feel "comfort."

      That is why so many of them will do anything to keep themselves in their religion.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • reallywest

      The Bible was never intended for every person to interpret according to his or her whim. There are theologians who can explain things in the Bible. Some things are a mystery. God is above us. It's like trying to fit the contents of the ocean into a bucket. Now that you're an atheist, how do you explain creation? Just happened? Out of nothing?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  6. Zachary

    I'm sorry but a poll of 1,535 people is not a really inclusive poll. I would like to know in which regions the poll was taken, how many of the polled people were religious and how many identified as non-religious. I find it hard to believe that non-religious people feel that the world would be better off with more religion. there is a reason why we chose to be non-religious. Somehow i feel that the poll included many more religious people than non-religious. I think that the poll may reflect my conjecture.

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

      You might want to click on the link in the article and then on the doc with the methodology. If the poll was representative, it would certainly include more religious than non religious people. Unless it is representative it wouldn't be generalizable to the population so this is just normal study practice.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  7. Canukman

    Any time the same person could be a Christian, Muslim,Jew, Buddha, etc. or atheist or agnostic, depending ENTIRELY upon what native family that person was born into and what culture he grew up in, then this must be a great development. Religion, in all respects, is so darn arbitrary and conflicted.

    Organized religion was "invented" and has been kept in force mostly by people – and mostly men – who desire power and luxury.

    Sky fairies? Pick one of the hundreds of religions and go to its hell!

    May 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  8. Brooklyn Bridge Salesman

    God just spoke to me. He said you all should send me $1.

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

      Who is God. who is a dollar?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  9. BB

    Religion =/= Spirituality

    Two completely different concepts.

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

      Agreed

      May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • reallywest

      true...not all spirits are good spirits. Spirituality opens you up demons. The biggest trick the devil ever played on people is convincing them that he doesn't exist.

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

      Bb , you might be partially wrong as.suming one religion is the truth.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  10. averse

    According to atheists, intelligent life comes is created by "nothing" ..even though intelligent life possesses greater attributes than "nothing" who gave the ability to create when we didn't decide what we were to be.

    atheism is such a joke

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

      Wow – that's one big bowl of stupid.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Jack w

      It certainly flies in the face of scientific principles.

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

      A lot of Buddhists are atheists...have you discussed the origin of the universe with them lately? Atheism has no position on the origin of the universe, only on gods. You might want to look up hard words like this before saying silly things on topics you don't understand.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • amalek

      if buddhists are atheists why bow to stupid statue LOL

      what about book of the dead and buddhists goddesses and gods?

      buddhism=joke

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

      Seems like you're buying into the one-sided lies that leaders in the creationist community put forth.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @amalek, reread what I wrote...slowly...

      May 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      What the hell does that even mean?

      May 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  11. Wildernessyes

    I am not a religious man because I find most religions violent, hateful, and intolerant. And I was raised Catholic.

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

      What did you find Christianity intolerant of?

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

      What are they not intolerant about?

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

      I used to be religious until I found exactly what you did in religion.....which is nowhere near the same thing as spirituality, by the way.

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

      @Answer

      What did you find Christianity intolerant of?

      =========
      @BB

      =>What did you find out that religion does?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Answer

      Look at yourself in the mirror, Chard. You.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Chad

      @Answer

      you atheists sure have a hard time answering questions.. ๐Ÿ™‚

      May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Saraswati

      lol...Chad didn't understand Answer's answer..typical.

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

      Well look at yourself. The blabbering fart bag, Chard.

      When are you ever going to bring out 'Rachel' and give yourself some 'head'?

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

      Did you run into some people who weren't very nice? Did God not do what you wanted Him to do?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • Answer

      Bring out your god first.

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

      That's your answer?

      really?

      You consider that rational?

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

      Christians sure do give Christianity a bad name...Why not pour on some moe us v. them hate...

      May 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Chad

      "us vs them hate"

      such as, what? Give me an example.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Answer

      Let's see you rationalize your need in creating a female "cheerleader" for yourself, Chard.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Chad

      @Answer

      What did you find Christianity intolerant of?

      why is this turning out to be such a difficult question?
      turning out to be another interesting data collection evening..

      May 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Answer

      @Chard

      Where's 'Rachel', Chard? Bring her out.

      Let's see you make some effort into being a girl.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Chad

      fascinating stuff.. really..

      so, all this day in day out rabid scream of "intolerant Christians", and yet you find it utterly impossible to actually articulate what Christians are intolerant of?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Chad, you have been here long enough to know exactly what people believe Christians to be intolerant of and your little pretense not to know isn't fooling anyone. No one wants to engage with you because you don't know how to debate and use the same pathetic questions over and over until people are sick to death of you.

      If you really want a topic of intolerance to debate there are plenty to be found here...just pick a thread. But that's not really what you want and everyone who's ever talked to you knows it. But by all means, keep pretending whatever makes you happy and see if any new innocent dupe falls into the error of thinking you are a normal person capable of adult conversation.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I think you are supposed to be intolerant of anything you think is sin, Chad. Unbelief is a sin isn't it, Chad? Homoseexuality, perhaps – active, that is, and gay marriage too. And practicing a religion incompatible with Christianity. I believe you could make a list of things you are intolerant of because you are Christian. To be fair, I'm intolerant too, but there's no doubt Christianity requires you to be intolerant of quite a few things.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Chad

      @Saraswati

      you didnt actually state what Christians are intolerant of.. wasnt sure if you meant to and forgot, or didnt want to say so didnt..
      but in either case, you didnt..

      May 30, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • Chad

      @Tom

      intolerant: Not tolerant of others' views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own

      actually, it is quite an easy case to make that Christians are far more tolerant than atheists. Agnostics might be a difficult case, but atheism? easily done. Atheists are by far and away the most intolerant people on earth..

      May 30, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • Saraswati

      Oh, look, Chad's doing that thing again where he types something like it's a quote but doesn't give the source. In the past that means he made it up, misquoted it or pulled it from wikipedia. He's also still doing the pretending he didn't understand what we sais thing, but I guess that's a given on the rare occassions he does understand.

      May 30, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • Chad

      @saraswati

      that's the definition of the word,

      May 30, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • Chad

      in case you are still stumped...

      http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/intolerant?q=intolerant

      May 30, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • Saraswati

      And there's one of your issues, Chad, there is no "the" definition of a word. Anyone with the basic education you lack would know how silly that sounds. What you do is select what you like and then refuse to cite because when you do people can either question your selectivity or context. In this case you left out Oxford's example from oxford which would have made your case about the superior tolerance of Christianity comical:. Note that you broke a sentence at a colon to do this. Here's the whole sentence:

      not tolerant of views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from oneโ€™s own: he was intolerant of ignorance

      You also picked a very poor definition which referenced "not tolerant" as part of the definition of intolerant which is fairly useless. If you wanted a better definition from Oxford you would pick their definition of intolerance which was better done:

      http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/intolerance

      unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from oneโ€™s own:
      a struggle against religious intolerance
      an intolerance of dissent

      To measure this unwillingness to accept you'd need to do a lot more than survey people you've met, as would atheists. However it is not unreasonable at all to point out that Christians (in certain subsets) are the ones unwilling to accept the marriages and behaviors of others, including speech, birth control and abortion. The only thing atheists generally refuse to accept is paying tax dollars to promote other's religions.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Chad

      posted response on pp 53

      May 30, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  12. jzzz

    Americans wanting America to be more religious is just another way of saying people want a framework or guiding set of principles to be good, without the hypocrisy of religion. Otherwise, more people would identify with a religious belief.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Colonel B

      Great observation!

      May 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  13. Err On the Side of Caution

    "He that believeth on Him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the ONLY begotten Son of God." - JOHN 3:18 (KJV) I would not be so naive and narrow-minded as to not believe God when He so forcefully says what He does in this Scripture. For it is better to err on the side of caution than face what will surely happen if you don't.

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

      err. im sure you lose no sleep worrying if the muslim or hindu religion is correct and you are praying to the wrong god.
      you probably even laugh at the idea.

      please note: this is exactly how non believers feel about your threats as well.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • reallywest

      he's trying to help you. There is a God. He loves you and wants you to love Him in return. When you die you will stand before Him and be judged. You cannot escape that fact. Heaven or hell. Your choice.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  14. An early Spaniard

    It's definitely flat, you'll fall off...

    May 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  15. Cary

    My neighbor has at least 10 signs in their yard that say Protect Religious Freedom, my neighbor that is the most hateful bigot you will ever meet.

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

      Yes, those signs are a great way to spot them.....

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

      Never seen one...in what part of the country do you guys live?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  16. Newport Pagnell

    Kinda like CNN losing ratings...Dust in the wind.....

    May 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  17. An early Viking

    Oh, that thunder is some guy with a big hammer.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Ancient Greek

      No it's not, it's Zeus farting!

      May 30, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  18. phil

    Religion was necessary when people didn't know why the sun moved across the sky. Today it's called science.

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

      then explain why so many scientists believe in God

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

      Go show us the number of scientists that support your christard bunk.

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

      Pasteur, Edison to name two off the top of my head.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • roger banfield

      seems to me that people once upon a time thought the earth was flat????? centuries earlier, the bible stated that there is one (god) who is dwelling above the circle of the earth....but we have to allow the knuckleheads a few centuries to realize they are not that damn smart.... but your learning!!!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Answer

      Go name more, asshat.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • bassmaster

      And millions of children believe in Santa Claus. Your point please?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  19. Ruknrap

    The greatest religion is HUMANITY...You lose it and you lose everything...!!!

    May 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  20. pws1121

    FAITH, faith is what is important. Whether you believe in the Christian God or a pile of sticks and mud, as long as you have faith, that is what keeps you going.

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

      But there's only one God. Read about Elijah in the Bible. Two alters. One for the pagan god and one for the True God. The pagans called on their god most of the day. Nothing. Elijah called on the One True God and fire came down from Heaven and burned up the sacrifice and the alter. God is the Creator. Worshipping a creation instead of the Creator is like praising a cupcake for being delicious instead of praising the baker.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:19 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.