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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. kirk

    "When America believed in God there was more peace in the country, we really need to turn back to God, and quit saying He's a fairy tale, and all that nonsense."

    Yes Renee, in a way you are right. Religion is a very effective way to control the ignorant masses through fear.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • lol??

      The picture looks like a mass mob. Ever deal with a mob?? Of course you have.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • snowboarder

      @lol, i had some friends at that rally. it certainly was no mob.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • boubour zlaq

      Not true. That's when all american natives were decimated, blacks were lynched in the Mississipi

      May 30, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Dweezil

      lol? ...my daughter and I were at that rally. Other than the few handfuls of religious folks yelling hate at the rally goers, this was a very peaceful, fun, educational, and successful event. I don't hate my religious friends and family, I simply don't agree with their bronze age dogma. We have evolved since the bronze age, but many of those who cling to their faith just don't seem to want to accept it. Humans, for the most part, are an intelligent creature. I am cautiously optimistic that religion (and the bigotry, hate and ignorance that often goes along with it) will continue to decline to the point of extinction...if we don't kill each other first in the name of our deity of choice.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • lol??

      Well snowboarder, I had a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend that went and saw velvet snowboarder gloves in the crowd. The guy inquired about them and was told they were velvet coated Kevlar and bronze age knuckles were worn underneath.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  2. Brenda

    I hope we lose it forever.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      R'amen!

      May 30, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  3. Honey Badger Don't Care

    Yea! Less religion, better for humanity!

    May 30, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  4. via2

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    It is appointed onto man once to die and after this, the judgement.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      I can quote nonsensical bible quotes too.

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Ben

      So, if Jesus hadn't come, everyone would be going to Hell? Wasn't expelling everyone from the Garden enough punishment?

      May 30, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • sam stone

      the threat of "judgement" is a bad joke played on mankind

      May 30, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Len

      sam stone
      When the schoolyard bully finally gets his at the hands of his victims doesn't he usually say "Wait until my Daddy hears about this, then you'll be sorry!"?

      May 30, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • sam stone

      An omniscient "god" would know that man would sin.

      Allowing a person to take punishment that you deserve is about the most immoral action one could take, yet the christians revel in it.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • sam stone

      len: not that i know of. i was normally on the hurting end of the bullying

      May 30, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Because a 2,000 year old collection of fables says so.

      May 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  5. Brenda

    Best news since Bachman not running. I am so sick of evangelicals shoving down your throats. They are anit-Jew, yet they are waiting for "Jesus" a jew to come and get them for everlasting life (some crazy name thing-rapture). Now, if you don't like Jews, why are you going to leave with a guy who is JEWISH..think now. Dumb a**es. And only their religion is correct, everyone else's is wrong. Catholics are a cult, Mormons are a cult, Jews killed Jesus (wouldn't that be an inter-faith crime and not our business?), Mooslims are Mooslims (as they call them). Sick of the whole thing. Keep your religion to yourself. It is not VD, stop trying to spread it around. Treat it like your penis, glad you got it; but don't shove it down my throat unless I ask you to.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • snowboarder

      bachman is not running so she can snipe from the sidelines like palin without any real repercussions.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  6. downbytheriver

    I wish I could have a glimpse of the US in, say, 100 years and see what's going on. The changes over the past 100 years are pretty incredible–technologically, socially, etc. So the next 100 years stand to be just as fascinating. As far as religious belief, as long as you have people, you will have religion. Right or wrong, Atheism is only palatable to a small group of people and I believe that will always be so. People will always seek to align with something bigger than themselves, whether it's an organized religion or something personal or both. I think what we're seeing today is mainly America losing its organized religion. Perhaps in 100 years organized religion will be so far out of sight that even personal beliefs will be so ambiguous as to be irrelevant to most people's lives, but who knows what the future will hold.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Ben

      Get rid of people being led by pastors in churches and they'll still be led by pastors writing books, on the internet, or whatever they have in 100 years. The prevalence you speak of is merely the difference between the majority who like being told what to believe and the rest of us who like to discover it for ourselves.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  7. AnnonUSA

    Why is America "losing" anything?
    If anything, when Religion begins to be questioned and discounted, it shows that people are getting smarter.
    Rational thinking and factual evidence makes the conclusion that Religious faith is just that, faith, nothing more.
    If anything, America may be finally ready to become enlightened. Maybe we shall even stop killing and fighting wars over religion.
    America has always been a leader, hopefully we can lead the world to a new empowerment not dependent on unseen Gods and saviors.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • lol??

      Actually you are more of a slave now than was ever envisioned by any sane american.

      "Pro 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant to the lender."

      Planning on pulling the Nazi trick of killing Christians and taking their stuff?? Gud fer the gubmint's debt problems.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Max

      lol??
      The Nazis were Christians, and they took the Jews stuff. And their lives.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  8. chief justice

    it is sad Americans are leaving religion. They have defended liberty and freedom. the ideals of Christianity; This is the reason America is great. I am really sad they careless now about religion. I love America and their ideals. they should keep it was founded.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • chris

      you want to keep it as a country whos economy was driven by slavery?

      May 30, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      It wasn't founded by christians. Sorry to break the news to you.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Said like a complete tool. Unlike you I have actually defended that freedom that you talk about and I have been a happy atheist for most of my life.

      America is great because of the SECULAR government which it has. Xtianity is a blight on reason.

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

      Not just slavery but almost complete powerlessness of women.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Len

      Millions of American Christians long for the day when King Jesus comes to end democratic rule in this country, and the rest of the world. How is that in line with the kind of freedom our ancestors envisioned when they fought off the English monarchy?

      May 30, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • sam stone

      "I love America and their ideals. they should keep it was founded."

      Like slavery?

      Women not being able to vote?

      Etc?

      May 30, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini, D.D. ©™

    A complete absence of religious influence would improve society enormously.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • lol??

      The Pale Horse sure grew like moss on the back of society. The rich are experts at influencing these events.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  10. Edward C.

    People would be more tolerant of religion if these Bible thumpers would just keep their views to themselves. I don't go around knocking on doors and standing on street corners announcing my atheism. Keep your Dogma to yourself, and we will get along just fine!

    May 30, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • chris

      quit spreading that nonsense known as logic!

      May 30, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • lol??

      Sorry King Edward, you must kill the Christians and burn their Bibles to achieve success. Enjoy.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • Brenda

      Good Answer.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Science

      And do not forget your horn-y red devil lol??..................?

      May 30, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  11. I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

    Good.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Arthur Bryant

      That's crap. There ARE no magical unicorns, only magical Leprechauns! And they will GET you for believing in fairy tale unicorns!

      May 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  12. The Frog

    Good will always triumph over evil.....Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and all other religions will be around for the life of Earth. The more Atheist attempt to make religions Taboo the stronger they will get......
    GOD BLESS US ALL!

    May 30, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      You are incorrect.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • jungleboo

      troll

      May 30, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • iAMgod

      To bad those religions only been around a tenth to a third of the most recent civilization attempt over the last EIGHT THOUSAND YEARS and us humans have been "moderen" for for about 100,000 years

      May 30, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      You don't need us to make religion taboo, religion does a very good job of doing that themselves with the constant oppression of attempt at opression of gay rights; women's rights; the rights of anyone who doesn't share the same imaginary friend they have. Check out godchecker.com and tell us which god is the right one and how you're so certain.
      When was the last time you obeyed your buybull and beat your disobedient child?

      May 30, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "oppression of attempt at opression"

      should have read:
      oppression or attempt at oppression

      May 30, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Kilgore Trout

      There have been thousands of religions that have come and gone in just the last several thousands of years. I bet every one of the believers thought they would last "for the life of the earth." Humans aren't even a sliver of the life of the earth, let alone their most recent religions. How egocentric...

      May 30, 2013 at 8:00 am |
  13. scientificpoetry

    "Poll: America losing its religion"...

    I have one simple response to this headline... GOOD!

    May 30, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  14. Logic led me to atheism

    "The concept of God thinking for me........does have a certain appeal to it". That doesn't make it true. Just because something "appeals" to you doesn't make it true.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:48 am |
  15. post_tenabras_lux

    Our society is like a person who runs headlong in to a brick wall. They get back up and do it again. Over and over until bleeding and broken they rail against the heavens screaming "see I told You it would not hurt me! You do not even exist!"

    May 30, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • jungleboo

      huh?

      May 30, 2013 at 7:52 am |
  16. chris

    to all those people who say "there is no way i came from a monkey!" please ask yourself. is being the decendents of incest really that much better than being a decendent of a monkey?

    May 30, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      No-one says we came from monkey's, evolution doesn't even state that. We say we have a common ape-like ancestor and evolution agrees with that.
      The incest point is spot on though but christards are not capable of thinking to that degree.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • bs

      Except we arent the decendents of monkeys. We share the same common ancestor.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • chris

      thats not really the point. christians actually say "i didnt come from no monkey" thats where i was going with it. but yeah the point was more the incest part lol.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • iAMgod

      We have a 94% genetic match to chimps 2 millions years ago when the rain forest shrank and are ape ancestor was was forced to the new grass lands are diet changed are living contains changed we ate mushrooms from cow patties and started making things up like god not that is how we evolved from monkeys

      May 30, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • iAMgod

      Now that...not not that...for those who don't understand autocorrect

      May 30, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "christians actually say "i didnt come from no monkey""

      Yes but they don't comprehend evolution, so don't play in to it or a lot of them will use it as ammo to defend their belief.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • kamarasune

      finding a single tiny bone fragment (finger) and stretching an entire composite model from it is about a far fetched as one can get. That's the problem with the evolution "theory" when one takes a careful look at it, it to is stretching the imagination with bone fields that span a ridiculous distance and would never be seriously considered on any other occasions and partial skull bones and jaws from deformed apes. Its just not there and it don't have the answer either.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • chris

      but... but... its so fun to throw that in their face!!!

      May 30, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "That's the problem with the evolution "theory" when one takes a careful look at it, it to is stretching the imagination with bone fields that span a ridiculous distance and would never be seriously considered on any other occasions and partial skull bones and jaws from deformed apes. Its just not there and it don't have the answer either."

      don't =doesn't

      Even without the fossil record the DNA evidence is enough to prove Evolution to be true and it makes so much more sense than Adam and Eve and to play on chris' point, in turn incest. Supporting the Adam and Eve story supports incest as being a good thing and society frowns upon that.
      A theory in the scientific sense summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step—known as a theory—in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Walter Adams

      No one claims we descended from monkeys. It's obvious that millions of years ago humans and apes descended from some common ancestor. Ape and human DNA are too similar to be mere coincidence. But humans evolved in one direction, and apes in another direction.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  17. Bob Smith

    Free will and being all-knowing are not incompatible. Heck, I can frequently predict the behavior of others. That doesn't mean I'm controlling them, now does it?

    May 30, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      You confuse the ability to know all things with the concept of behavior prediction based on personality traits and or the ability to manipulate behavior. Free will cannot exist if an omnipotent deity exists. It certainly cannot exist if that deity ever intervenes. In ANYTHING.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • sam stone

      "Free will and being all-knowing are not incompatible."

      Yes they are.

      "Heck, I can frequently predict the behavior of others. That doesn't mean I'm controlling them, now does it?"

      But we are not talking about frequently predicting the behavior of others, we are talking knowing everything to be known, forever. That is a characteristic of an omniscient god, isn't it?

      Look at it this way...if I (apparently) have a choice of A or B, and the omniscient god knows I will choose B, what are the chances I will choose A and prove god wrong? In case you do not have your calculator nearby, the answer is "zero"

      May 30, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  18. Andrew

    Religon is just plain dumb but the only good thing it teaches is moral values now you might dressage with all the unmoral killing and other stuff in the bible but the churches still teach moral values. We don't need religion we need moral values. We can get red of religion i am perfectly find with that but we do have to consder teaching some type of moral values in place of the religious teachings. If we dont do this america will go down the toilet drain.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • WASP

      morals can be taught without religion.
      it's really simple. if you don't want your stuff stolen don't steal. kindof like that.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • Religion?

      So we teach Moral values from a guy who claimed to be God? I don't think it was set up to work that way. But if that is where you put your Faith and what you Believe who am I to change your Religion

      May 30, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  19. m.s.mohamed ansari

    ECONOMIC COLLAPSE REASON ILLEGAL WAR .PLEASE SAVE GLOBAL ECONOMICS

    GLOBAL CONTROL OVER BY QUEEN ELIZABATH
    ROYAL BUDGET COST EVERY YEAR $,1.7.TRILLION

    HOUSE OF COMMAND
    FREE MASON.
    CONGRESS

    ELECTRONICAL
    VOTE
    Electronic vote RESULT IS GONE DESIGNING WORLD
    HEADQUARTERS
    OF ALL
    ASSOCIATION

    PRESS
    MEDIA G20
    LEADER
    & RED CROSS
    UN
    IMF EURO
    UNION.USA.UK.G8

    THE WHITE HOUSE ARAB
    LEADERS
    &
    POPE

    OPEC
    &
    NASA
    NATO
    GLOBAL ECONOMIC
    EFFECTED THIS
    Enjoying this
    UK.ROYAL
    USA
    UK.ARABS
    EURO
    UNION
    FREE
    MASON
    U.K – U.S & Eurounion
    • WAR cost total $ 3.5 TRILLION
    • POVERTY FAMINE &Effected education.
    • Jobless PRESENT ECONOMIC CRISIS
    • Effected All liberal democracy. Billion of people tax pays.
    • FDI INVESTOR &Joint ventured
    • Effected CNC manufacturer & energy power
    • BANKRUPT 170 BANK OVER ALL 87000 BRANCHES
    • Million of people death and is wounded. NATO &US. Coalition troops 8000 wound 35000
    • Increase every day by day OPEC.
    • Global environment climate change this leads to agricultural &human health problem
    JUSTICE IS IN PERIL .SAVIOUR OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE ALONE CAN PROTECT HUMANITY
    Kindly please open the link which is below M.S.MOHAMED ANSARI
    http://costofwar.com/
    http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/war.casualties/index.html
    http://usparliament.org/globaleconomicsdivision.php
    http://openlibrary.org/authors/OL3647712A/World_Media_Association
    Economic save only 6 point. Peace, prayer, liberty, unity, friendly, and simplicity.

    Indeed, to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; billion of universe; He gives life and causes death. And you have not besides ALLAA any protector or any helper. ALLAA AKBAR. Quran 9/116

    And say, "Truth has come, and falsehood has departed. Indeed is falsehood, [by nature], ever bound to depart." Quran 17/81.

    Every one come Easy way Islam. Take of bath properly please say.ALLAA AKBAR VA ASHATHU ANNAMOHAMMED ABDUHU VA RASOOL. Following. 6. 1, each everything only believe ALLAA next 2, A DAY 6time prayer. 3, RAMADAN Every year one month fasting 4, ZAKKATH. Every year one time Charity 6% 5, IKRAAM. Give an take policy 6, DAWA call Every body Islam.

    History say .All country, army,weapons and money are all in one roof to against attack innocent saddam hussein ? people want to justify w.bush or saddam hussein

    According to the CNN WORLD report, in the war 6, 75,000 civilians killed, 7500 troops of USA and its allied forces killed 3 25 000 people wounded and $ 3.5 Trillion Dollar spent for the war. This spending of $ 3.5 Trillion Dollar is the main cause of action for the present economic crises prevailing all over the world.
    After winning the war against IRAQ, the United States of America’s President Mr. George W.Bush, also admitted the same fact, and he openly stated that the Intelligence agency misguided him.
    Later on, even the United Nations Organization (UNO) also certified that the IRAQ has no nuclear weapons.
    Then it is the bounded duty of the United States of America and its allied forces to withdraw from IRAQ.

    M.S.MOHAMED ANSARI, OLD NO 154 ANGAPPANAICK STREET. CHENNAI 600001. INDIA

    May 30, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • jungleboo

      OMG

      May 30, 2013 at 7:54 am |
  20. Andrew

    Religon is just plain dumb but the only good thing it teaches is moral values now you might dressage with all the unmoral killing and other stuff in the bible but the churches still teach moral values. We don't need religion we need moral values. We can get red of religion i am perfectly find with that but we do have to consder teaching some type of moral values in place of the religious teachings. If we dont do this america will go down the toilet drain.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • Religion?

      So we teach Moral values from a guy who claimed to be God? I don't think it was set up to work that way. But if that is where you put your Faith and what you Believe who am I to change your Religion

      May 30, 2013 at 8:05 am |
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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.