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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. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Why is religion losing its influence? Let us count the ways: #3

    AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    Added details available upon written request.

    May 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  2. Rolph

    The Crusades, Jihad, Nazis, Pedophiles in religious garments, anti semitism, sacrifices in the name of a god, persecution of Christians by Romans. inability of people of different faiths to be open minded about others views.
    This is what religion has given us. No small wonder why people of intelligence are turning away. If these are the things god has given us I want no part of it!

    May 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Many religions, like secularism, were based on naturalism throughout the ages like the Mayans. So your sweeping view of religion is just not realistic. You cannot just lump them altogether. They are very different. You like Dawkins are misguided and think you can just dismiss all religion with one sweeping comment. That is very naive and ignorant!

      May 29, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      I for one would not apologize for the crusades. It sure beats the slaughter that the Muslims had to offer. Why would you apologize for that. I can see why politicians would take that line, but not the average person with any intelligence.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Observer

      Nothing compares to God's torturous killing of EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth according to the Bible. Millions of animals were needlessly killed it says.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Do you even know to what you are referring or are you like most atheist going on second hand knowledge?

      May 30, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • edmundburkeson

      How can an atheist accuse God of killing women? Irrational! I am not sure what you are talking about killing women. If you are referring to Jericho that question is answered in the story itself. You likely have not read it. And animals were sacrificed because of sin and the seriousness of breaking the covenant that God had with Israel. It was only needless in your mind.

      May 30, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • Pete

      he was referring to the flood where god killed everyone on Earth except Noah and his family.

      May 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  3. A frog can turn into a prince

    Atheists belong to a cult with Dawkins as their leader

    May 29, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • Troglodytes Entertaining All

      Projecting the attributes of your religion onto atheists doesn't make it true... It make you particularly weak-minded.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Oh, look, people! The little troll has learned to copy and paste. Isn't amazing what they're doing with the trainables these days?

      May 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Dancing Frog

      Dawkins is a scientist in a particular field. When he talks about physics you can be sure he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. Nobody worships him. He sometimes says stupid things. But he is a brilliant scientist in his own field and can show exactly how evolution is a real thing that really happens.
      You're just jealous because you don't have anything real to support anything you say.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      With people like Dawkins on their side, Christianity will be sure to flourish for another 2000 years.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Dawkins should stick to science. He is very misguided when is comes to history.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  4. edmundburkeson

    Secularism is a religion.

    May 29, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Yeah, just like bald is a hair color, health is a disease, peace is a kind of war, and "off" is a TV channel.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Citation: Supreme Court 1961

      May 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Dancing Frog

      Secularism is a political ideology in its own right and NOT a religion you stupid piece of shit.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Secularism is based on naturalism and materialism and is an unproven presupposition – based on faith.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
  5. David

    I believe in a greater power (s), I am just not sure the religions we have here on Earth explain it accurately. So, I am very spiritual and not too religious!

    May 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Dancing Frog

      So when the wind blows you think it is spirits farting in your general direction? What a maroon.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  6. Joe

    One of these days the Lord will return and see what the Atheist can say about him. It would be a terrifying scene.

    May 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Said Joe of 113, 213, 313, 413, 513, 613, 713, 813, 913, 1013, 1113, 1213, 1313, 1413, 1513, 1613, 1713, 1813, 1913, and 2013.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • Yobby

      He will come riding in a chariot with his buddies Zeus, Muhammad, and Santa Claus.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • dibsdone

      Unfortunately you lunatics are trying to bring doomsday on sooner than later. Once one of you gets elected to the theocracy you so wish was in place it will be like Jonestown all over again with the holy president pushing the nuclear buttons.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      One of these days you may develop the capacity to think...

      May 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • NO TRESPASSING

      come on .. lets talk today.. not one those days.. lets you believe in god. something happen to you..and you're alive... now you said thanks god. something happen to your friend, and your friend died ...
      you cant say thanks god, then what you would say?

      May 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Dancing Frog

      Ooh, a scary boogeyman will come get you at some indeterminate future time!
      I am so not scared you piece of shit.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Gateway

      Hey Joe, get over it. It has been almost 2000 since that statement has been made. There is no chance of him returning, when you die your dead and aint never coming back.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      And you're such a sadist – like most xtians – that you're wetting your pants in anticipation.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  7. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    human looking hindu atheist, ignorant self centerd, denires of truth absolute GOD. Should they be called human, or hindu animals, ignorant seculars by nature.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEpJdHS1pV0&w=640&h=360]

    May 29, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Go away, troll.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Where are you in all this, Muslim? Islam has a terrible reputation in America. What are you doing to encourage religiosity in Americans?

      May 29, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      He's got a point! Secularism, like Hinduism and Taoism, is based on naturalism. They are presuppositional cousins.

      May 30, 2013 at 1:02 am |
  8. uspatriot1982

    I am one of those concerned Americans, not about the loss of influence of religion but of God. We have become a nation of people that do not want to be held accountable. Not to God and especially each other. Humanism at its delusional place in life. Christianity has been under attack in our colleges and universities since the 70's. Atheists and agnostics vehemently attack us for having faith in God. They explain away Christian efforts but offer nothing of hope by comparison to what Jesus offers, I won't settle for man's plans. Faith, hope and love hold the hope for mankind. Without accountability, we are left to our own demise, Christ showed us the way, it is truly pretty simple to grasp.

    May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Are you also concerned about losing the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy?

      May 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Yobby

      You can't match the comfort of a fairy tale with reality.

      Your born, life sucks and then you die. You can either accept that as the truth and reality or try to live in your bubble, nothing is going to change it either way.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Daniel

      The life sucks part is determined by your outlook on life, maybe your life sucks, mine does not.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Mike

      Pardon, but which religion supported slavery, which religion burned people at the stake, which religion supported oppression of women? Also, do not tell me that Christians do not attack atheists, tell someone you are an atheist in the south and suddenly you are public enemy #1, have less rights, and are told you are "GOING TO HELL!!."

      If anything, religion needs to be attacked, banned, and forever discredited. Look at Islam and the recent case in the UK, religion, oh soo peaceful.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • dibsdone

      @Daniel

      Very well said. Funny how the christian religions try to recruit with the premise that life sucks. It doesn't have to suck. It sucks if you let it get to you. If you stop and simmer down the ego it actually kind of rocks.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Irked

      Please don't use the word 'we'. If you're a patriot AND a God-fearing Christian, then you realize that a) the freedom -of- religion also includes the freedom -from- religion and b) according to the gospel we all have free will. If people like you who seem to think your Christianity depends wholly upon influencing how I and others act versus how you and yours act would just keep your gods to yourself, the world would be a better, friendlier place.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  9. Believer

    This article is based on the ultimate in subjectivity – opinion. You cannot poll spirituality any more than you can poll morality, integrity or ethics - which I believe occupy the same context as the religion CNN is alluding to but afraid to address directly – Christianity. What did Jesus ever do to you to make you and those who respond with hatred so bitter and spiteful? Do you mock the faith or the man or both? Do you mock the believer? I contend it takes more faith to be faithless because like all those before you, you have a date with destiny and you'll surely find out that you're wrong – that's what I believe. Now prove me wrong. Oh wait, you can't. That's also called faith. You have a belief system you cannot defend. Ad hominem, poisoning the well, straw man, begging the question, guilt by association. . . the fallacies in your thinking abound. Continue hating until the end or know the truth, and it will set you free!

    May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Irked

      Given how many flavors of 'gods' there are swirling about in the imaginations of folks these days, I'd go ahead and say people's taste in religion is pretty darn subjective, too. I don't mock the man the Jesus stories are based upon, but I do mock bigoted, pushy, holier-than-thou proselytizers who want to buy their green card into 'Heaven' by infringing upon my right to exist as I choose.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • Dancing Frog

      HA HA HA HA HA !!!!!
      The irony of seeing a schizophrenic science-hater trying to claim someone didn't do something in a properly scientific way.
      HA HA HA HA HA !!!!
      I shit all over your stupid fucking post you dumbfuck. Go kill yourself for being such a tard.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  10. john vance

    Religions come and go. Thousands of faiths have been practiced over the millenia with differing, divergent and sometimes incompatible doctrines. They cannot all be right, but they can all be wrong. No matter, they are all irrelevant.
    Truth and reality stand by themselves. No action or belief by man, no matter how vigorously pursued or fervently followed can change what does or does not exist.

    May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Joe

      I agree with you. Religion is more like a hobby. However, we must mention that most of religious people are into only because they are afraid of death. They get lost easily when they wonder if religious is useful at all. When they get to the logic answer, they leave the thoughts up to there and they just follow the flow with an idiotic inertia, without major and further explanations, as religion precisely asks for. I think religions are manufactured by a few only to profit. These who create religions are equal or more ignorant than the least considered human being on earth. It is amazing though to see the followers. At any rate, as you say, truth, reality, fiction, imagination, you name it, about the facts of life, creation, space, time, etc. are already there and no man will ever be able to change that. We are just simply part of what the infinite cosmos contains, today alive, tomorrow dead. By all means, God does not exist for simple logic. It is ashame that there are people who believe in The Bible, after all evidence that science has been giving to our brains during the last 100 years, especially after reading the Genesis. Because nobody ever will know the truth, i personally try to live a life respect to this issue concluding the most reasonable and common sensed by myself, and of course I do not need a religion to do it.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
  11. crappygovernment

    The NFL will lose millions of Christian fans and their shekels if Tebow doesn't get a Qb gig soon. He's still 8-5 as a starter with a playoff win!

    May 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Observer

      Tebow was a great college quarterback. His mechanical weaknesses and poor decision making have made him an unemployed quarterback. He couldn't complete even half of his passes and a miserable team with quarterback problems felt the 3rd string quarterback showing better skills. Considering how many players have jobs in spite of their personalities, it's obvious that teams would love to have him if he was productive and with a good personality to boot. Several teams have expressed interest in having him if he would change positions and he REFUSES.

      You appear to know little about the sport and what measures teams go through to win games. Read sports sections.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        He's still 8-5 as a starter with a playoff win. Is this a jedi mind trick attempt?

        May 29, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Observer

      Reality:

      If Tebow could win games for an owner, the owner will sign him. He's not going to give up millions.
      If Tebow could win games for coaches, all the losing NFL coaches would do anything to get him and save their jobs.

      Tebow does have a winning record. He did have a lot of luck in winning as anyone with knowledge of the game will attest. Interviews with his Denver coach after wins looked a little like Chief Inspector Dreyfus talking about Inspector Clousseau.

      The New York Jets were a disaster this year. You could be pretty delusional if you think they thought Tebow could help them win and save coaches jobs and make millions for the owner and didn't use him.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        Tikkun Olam is doomed! yhwh and jahbulon love Tebow and want him out there at starting Qb in the NFL!

        May 29, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  12. crappygovernment

    The God forsaken faces of Atheists are the best advertisement for Christianity.

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

      Its harder to cope when you understand reality and don't live in fairy tale land.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        You probably have a face like Trotsky. Satan is your father!

        May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Wow, your god lets you see faces where there aren't any? Braise the lord, I've seen the light!

      May 30, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        You should stick to bbq. Tebowphobia is mentioned in Acts 14:1-2. Rev 3:8-10 says Tebow fans will win!

        May 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  13. Yobby

    The flying spaghetti monster is better than the christian god.

    May 29, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  14. Ponchos raincoat

    If god exists, then god is a primate. As we are the fifth ape species. Intellectual apes in fancy dress if you will.

    May 29, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  15. Jim J

    If God isn't real, how did he create man in His own image? Checkmate, atheists.

    May 29, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Observer

      Does that explain why there are gays and lesbians?

      May 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Shane

      If god isn't real then why does water boil at 100 degrees and freeze at 0 centigrade?

      May 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      If I was created in God's image, how come I'm not invisible, too?

      May 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • TomSeattle

      That's supposed to be an argument? A proof? How do YOU know what God looks like? Maybe he's a bumble bee. Maybe he's a house fly. OH...that's right. It says so in a book written hundreds and thousands of years ago by roaming goat herders. You bet – I'm really going to look to that for proof of ANYTHING.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • linxwiler

      Ummm, God isn't real, and the quote from your magic book isn't real either, so there's nothing to explain or defend for athesits. Checkmate, yourself. #Logic fail

      May 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • marianna

      'Jim J' wrote:

      'If God isn't real, how did he create man in His own image? Checkmate, atheists.'

      Hopefully, you're joking.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Vader

      HIS image? So you assign gender to the invisible friend? Then explain women (and don't pull that "created from Adam's rib" chestnut).

      May 29, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Dancing Frog

      If your god created man from dirt, then why is there still dirt? Checkmate Christians!

      May 29, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      He didn't, oh perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect! 'Twas the other way around!

      May 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  16. opinion8it

    That's me in the corner....that's me in the spotlight...

    May 29, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • Amber

      Yus!!!!!

      May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Corey

      I don't know if I can do it...

      May 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  17. Mark Silvers

    Maybe we don't need fairy tales anymore! Go ahead, quote the bible if you feel better.

    16. The Lord Jesus asked of His followers what it means to 'shout'. When they demonstrated to Him in loud, vulgar noises, He became dismayed. 17. 'Aye, a shout doth call for volume. Behold! I educate thee now, that the holy meaning of a shout is to feel Mine presence in thine soul, that maketh thee cry out in awe.' 18. One of His followers, Lugubrious of the village of Shlemiel, did become very confused. For all that Lugubrious could feel was indigestion from some bad gefilte fish earlier. Was this feeling really the presence of the Lord within him? Verily! He doth work in mysterious ways!" -Thesauronians 1:16-18

    May 29, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • opinion8it

      You're going to feel really silly on judgment day..

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

      There won't be a judgment day (Jesus has been dead 2000 and isn't coming back; he's rotting in the ground like you will shortly) so save your threats.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • dibsdone

      @opinion8it
      You have already cast your judgement! I know many a quiet atheist who do more moral deeds than the hypocrite under the steeple.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
  18. baffledbyyourignorance

    read my post name... need i say it again?

    May 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Dancing Frog

      I am baffled by your ignorance in asking that question.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  19. Judith

    Look at the quote above saying "atheists are immoral animals and their women are easy." I assume the person saying this considers himself to be religious, but he also demonstrates that he is judgmental and dirty-minded. I also detest the use of "their women" which implies that women are "owned" by their men. I think the problem with religion in American is that right-wingers have given it a bad name with their intolerance and hatred of anyone who doesn't agree with them. My objection to most organized religion is the emphasis on "group think" where everyone has to follow in lockstep with an authoritarian, usually male, leader. No thank you. I can believe in a higher power without giving up my ability to think for myself.

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

      Here here!

      May 29, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • dibsdone

      Awesome observations! I couldn't have said it better.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • Blackrar

      Some Christian leaders wanted to try and see if they could make Christians as intently brainwashed as Muslims, so they kept terrorizing and terrorizing and discovered that primitive desires to dominate condense out and take over the brain.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  20. Dave Meccariello

    god isnt the problem... nor is peoples belief in god
    the problem are corrupt church and leadership that has turned people off from organized religion

    people are sick of unscrupulous "religious organizations" that spew hate and intolerance in the name of god

    May 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • opinion8it

      I hear you... the gospel has been so distorted. "so his appearance was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.." - Christ is no longer recognizable.

      May 29, 2013 at 11:18 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.