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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. concernedcitizen

    "Poll: America losing its religion"

    THANK GOD, It's about GD time...

    let's get out of the dark ages, people...

    May 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Charles

      That's right! Lets get out of the 1800's and research real science not darwin fairy tales

      May 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • bassmaster

      Amen. How can you argue with someone who is terrified to spell god without a capital G for fear of eternal damnation?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Dan

      Charles, you seem to ignore the fact that science has built upon Darwin's findings. Some of his conclusions have been verified, some disproven. It's how science works. Religion works differently since, in some cases, it demands one pledged allegiance and dedication to 2K year old texts.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  2. Peter Q Wolfe

    I'm glad to see that rational thinking dominates than just faith without any basis in reality than feelings. Fact is that religion opposes stem cells, cloning, abortion and other scientifical facts not in a being who deserted us like years ago anyways. I am elated that we are invested more time in curing blindness than talking about something that everyone knows doesn't exist.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Atheism, self center ism is foundation of hinduism, denial of truth absolute by hindu secular ism, crooked self center ism, not of human, but of hindu animals, ignorant self centered by nature.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  3. Rolph

    We are losing religion because we are gaining intelligence.

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

      Amen to that! America is waking up & finally realizing they have been living their lives according to a myth. How embarrassing!

      May 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • HappyMN

      You are absolutely right! We dont need to explain things like children anymore we know many of the answers and can now be responsible for our own actions. Lets save our planet first.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Bingo! Not to mention easy access to information.

      May 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  4. amalek

    Only people who really made profit off of religion are JEWS

    no other nation or religion has exclusively tried to make you feel guilty for not being slave to their parasitic religion and god as Judaism. I have never seen a religious community destroy a nation financially and morally as fast and brutal as judaism and their hashem or yahwe.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Charles

      Lets tell fairy tales and mythology stories and call it 'science' and then solicit people for research money. Half the stuff is made up lies anyway

      May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      And word Jew means nothing else but a hindu secular, crook self centered, religions a handy work of hindu Jew, crook self centered by faith, pretending to be Israelite.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Oh look, the Nazis are alive and well in the 21st century.

      May 30, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  5. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Religions are hinduism, corruption of truth absolute, teachings of truth absolute GOD, one has to be hindu, ignorant in his hindu atheism, ignorant self center ism to claim, any one or any thing thing can exist without truth absolute, constant GOD. get out of hind, darkness of th eir hindu soul, ignorant desire to recognize truth absolute GOD.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Answer

      slam, always, goes, boom. More pieces, scatter.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  6. ALLuh

    and the sooner the better, organized religion has retarded mankind for far too long, grow up, let's move on to a sane world

    May 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  7. WEREDOOMED

    Great, a bunch of dope smoking atheist running the country, oh crap that's what we have now! Hows that hope and spare change going for you.

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

      We have one Atheist in congress (he may no longer even be in Congress, I forget), and we are running the country, awesome.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  8. Charles

    I guess believing that a frog can turn into a prince and pigs can fly is healthy. Evolutionist are just as whacked out as the religious. Evolution is a myth.

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

      Don't forget that proof for evolution hinges on finding fossil remains of a crocoduck.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • ALLuh

      ummmmm, really? Evolution is a myth? Wow! You are dumb.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      and fundamental belief of hindu religion of hindu dark ages. based on hindu dark ages.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Oh noes!

      Islamabot!

      May 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Oh noes!

      We're blaming it on Charles. He summoned the Islamabot.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Rich

      I agree

      May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Shane

      Evolution is proven, its been observed in the lab, in nature, and in the fossil record.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Rich

      I thought it is the theory of evolution, not like the law of gravity. I respect your view, just disagree. Hope you respect my view too. 🙂

      May 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Pete

      It is the Theory of Gravity just like the Theory of Evolution, and Germ Theory. The Theory of Gravity includes the Law of Gravity.

      May 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      The myth is that there are functioning brain cells between your ears.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  9. musician 1

    Speak for yourselves. There will always be religion in America as long as people have a conscience and a soul. It is truly pitiful for those that think they are so smart as to deny the existence of a higher power. Just who do they think they are... pathetic

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

      It's not that sane people don't know their is a higher power numbnuts, it's the organized part that seizes control and makes up BS to keep people in line, sheeeez, grow up.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • TDM

      The point of the article, which everyone seems to have overlooked, is that religion's INFLUENCE on society has diminished, not the number of believers.
      And....good. Because religion has NOT place in our SECULAR laws.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Dan

      You have to understand that not all of us don't believe because of science. Some of us don't believe because we demand proof for claims of gods or the supernatural, yet find nothing but circular arguments, flawed logic, personal biases, and wishful thinking.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  10. JessManibusan

    Whether you come to the realization at 9 or on your deathbed at 92, that Love is the true hyper-intelligence that created the universe, and it's growth is the true purpose of physical life, is irrelevant as long as the lesson is learned. Nor does it matter if the lesson is never learned in a lifetime. It shall be repeated. This is how it has always been, and ever shall be. From Cavemen to Caesar to Hitler. All loved. All growing. All evolving. All eternal and perfect.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  11. Rich

    I look at the precision of the stars and planets with orbits having split second timing with no chaos, and it makes me believe in a creator, like when i see a percision watch-someone created it. My personal studies make me believe the bible, but not how man twists its teachings. I believe in the bible, and i have actually read it.

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

      Which account of the resurrection is correct (out of the three different versions).
      How do you account for no evidence of the Exodus?
      How do you account for the lack of evidence of the great flood.

      As far as the movement of the planet, study physics, it explains things very easily.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Bestoink Dooley

      There are no Gods or Devils. That's all just a lot of hooey. You're so stupid

      May 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Rich

      Great questions. I already posted, but i do not see my reply. If you would like me to do research and get back with you, i will give you my "anonymous" email of hongkongphooey3@yahoo.com and i will be glad to answer any questions you have. I do not claim to be anything special, but i am capable of research.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Rich

      I am not a physicist, but dont you wonder, did this precision just happen? How does physics prove no one designed these percise orbits?

      May 29, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Rich

      Bestoink,

      Have you read the bible?

      I appreciate your honesty, but if we had a "secular" conversation, you would quite possibly think i was in fact smart. Do me a favor and pray to God tonight if i am wrong, and i believe if you truely mean it, you just might get an answer. Just do not be surprised if it comes from an unexpected source. I posted my email earlier, shoot me an email if you do get an answer.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  12. roger Emmonds Jr.

    GOD = bottom line for the quarter for the company in question 🙂 money is religion!

    May 29, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • John C

      agreed.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Samantha J.

      which religion would you like to buy today? we got limited time offer for 2 or 1 religions on sale.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • David R. Holmes

      seriously at this day and age who needs an antiquated religion.. aren't we all gods? we surely act like it... me me me me me and me who care about any one else it is all about me.... sound like a god.

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

      gotta wait till Christmas great sales on religion!

      May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Nathan

      money = GOD ..hmm ok can I get a 30 day return guarantee/policy on that if I don't like it can I return it for something else?

      May 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  13. Julie

    GOOD! Religion has done nothing for humanity except hold us back scientifically, control our thoughts for financial and political gain and give us false hopes. Have faith in yourself and your own abilities! God didn't give you good fortune; you got that for YOURSELF! Don't think so little of yourself that you think that it's not possible for you to bring good fortune into your own life without the help of an imaginary deity!

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

      God has given us the longest lasting republic ever! Now that the obamatheist have control they are trying to destroy it. No worries, conservatives will control the house and the lamescmuck CAN GO golf for the next 2 years. After that we will shut you foolish people down once and for all.

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

      You need the Lord and prayer

      May 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  14. don

    don't forget to pass the basket.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  15. crappygovernment

    The NFL and Media fear Tim Tebow's religious efforts, that's why he is being blackballed out of the league. Tebowphobia is mentioned in Acts 14:1-2. Rev 3:8-10 says Tebow fans will win.

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

      If God really cared, many he could correct Tim Tebow's faults in his throwing mechanics. That would help more than anything. This has been an on-going problem for his for YEARS.

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

        You sound like a typical anti-Christian Jay Fiedler or Sage Rosenfels fan, comrade!
        No Tebow = Bye Bye Christian fans and their shekels!

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

      Your god caresless about football than he does about man. Religion (not a personal belief) has ruined every country it has ruled or had dominance over. Rome was fine with a pantheon of gods that everyone could share then Rome when to monotheism and was ruine within 150 yrs. Religion is for unitelligent people who cannot take responsiblity for there own actions or will not just accept that things just go wrong sometimes the odds are something in your life will mess up. it is not some superbeing testing you same thing when an unexpected good thing happens odds are in can happen to anyone your not gods favorite.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Observer

      crappygovernment,

      If you knew anything about football, you'd know that Tim's mechanics have been bad even back in college. Coaches have tried for years to get him to change with no success. Films show he takes much too long to move the ball into position and throw.

      As much as you'd like religion to be a factor here it isn't. The pros all say he has to change and hasn't. Guess again. Do some reading.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        We Christians tolerated mediocre Jewish qbs like Jay Fiedler and Sage Rosenfels. Where is the tolerance for Christian Qb Tim Tebow?

        May 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Pffft

      Rriiiight. Any owner who could use his talents, IF he had any, could care less about his religion. Tons of players pray or point to the sky after touchdowns, I'm sure they are all blacklisted too. Try again, fail!

      May 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Albert

      You actually think God would put someone in one of the most violent sports to represent him? That is beyond laughable. Players from other teams claim to worship the same God. So God picks sides as to who wins? Do you realize how foolish that sounds? It's no wonder people are losing faith in God. Stop making a mockery of God!

      May 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        That's max eyeballs for Christ, Albert. They never would have made a religious, ethnic or minority Qb take all those cheap hits as punt protector and you know it!

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

        They never would have made Anne Frank or Gandhi play punt protector to take all those extra cheap hits!

        May 29, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  16. Thom

    They say the smarter you are, the less you believe in invisible men. I think religion and oil are the roots of all bad things in life....... the biggest problems would go away if people stopped killing in the name of their religion. No one can move a mountain and even now people can rise from the dead......... people were morons back then. People need to just respect life and live their own lives and live long and prosper. I was born a Catholic.....and stayed one until I found out that they were the richest corporation in the world and owned more land and real estate than even the US Gov't. Too many tax free religion houses popping up....... maybe we should all have our own tax free income church.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  17. allenwoll

    .
    Hope springs eternal ! !
    .

    May 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  18. Owl Creek Observer

    Some of the comments here make me incredibly sad. How terrible it must be to go through life with nothing to look forward to but a dirt nap.

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

      Why do Christians insist on what a miserable world we have that was created by God?

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

      The small minds of the christards all want to think that everyone else is "miserable" if they're not agreeing to their version of god.

      Such a joy to watch them paint that illusion for themselves.

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

      How terrible it must be to go through life being told you're a failure and unworthy and then find nothing in the end. What a waste.

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

      How terrible to go through life not appreciating the present when you wait for a future that may never come. That makes every bit as much sense as your own silly claim.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      owl, That's all any of us have but the difference is we're not deluding ourselves with fairy tales.

      May 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Spencer D. Welch II

      "If there was a God, he wouldn't let a guy walk right up and shoot you in the face now would he?"

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

      Their material people. I say take away the power grid and they will find the good lord in good time 😉

      May 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      The ol' dirt nap is inevitable for all of us. It's the fear of that inevitability that's given religions their power over the masses. Religion has always been about control.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  19. Ryan

    Fear of punishment is at the core of Christianity: salvation v. damnation. I know just as much about your religion as you do. Never said I do not believe in a higher power, don't know and may never know. But the implication that it is not only important that someone believes in God, but that they also believe in a specific story out of many and the correct version of this specific story, all of which were told thousands of years ago is absurd.

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

      meant that as a reply to another post

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

      Actually, it is forgiveness, which is what separated it from all the previous religions of the region which were based on a balance sheet of good deeds or bad.
      I am an agnostic, but as a moral code Christianity is pretty good but remember the words of Gandhi. To paraphrase- I love your Christ, just not your Christians. They are so un-Christ-like.

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

      Ah, the old "because there are so many various belief systems it is therefore impossible that one is true" mantra.

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

      BTW-most Christians are Catholic and the Pope just said "good" atheists go to heaven.. Just sayin'

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

      and then the vatican clarified that atheists can go to heaven if they have not been exposed to Christianity. Like I said in the first reply, meant as a reply to another post.

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

      fear of damnation? it is about His love for you and me. I grew up as an Atheist. I normally make fun of Christians, I even went as far as not dating a girl because she went to Church. It is ALL about God's love. His promise. More than 20 years ago, I challenge it, read it, compare it to historical info, (although Alexander the Great was written 200 years after the fact) No one can convince anyone to believe in God. He is not looking for a bigger Church or religion. He is looking for a relationship with you and Him. No one knows you more than anyone else. God bless my friend

      May 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  20. thegadfly

    I would have to think very hard to come up with a more meaningless question to ask in a poll. Perhaps we could inquire of Mandarin Chinese pizza chefs as to their views on Jodi Arias' attorney's brother-in-law's dog's preferences amongst the many varieties of @nal scents.

    May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
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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.