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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. The Bible emergency #

    – When you want to do good works, call on John 15

    – When you want to live a happy life, call on Colossians 3:12-17

    – When you don’t understand what God is doing, call on Isaiah 55:8-9

    – When you pray, call on Matthew 6:9-13

    – When you need courage, call on Joshua 1

    – When you have sinned, call on 1 John 1:8-9

    – When you feel God is far from you, call on Psalm 139

    – When your faith needs encouraging, call on Hebrews 11

    – When you are seeking rest, call on Matthew 11:25-30

    – When you are in need, call on Philippians 4:19

    – When you are seeking peace, call on John 14:27

    June 2, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Huh?

      All the people you listed are dead so there is no need to call anyone, it's all a lie.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • Science

      Hey.The Bible emergency #

      No horn-y 666 beast never has been. and when death comes knocking at your door make sure to have a few stony iron

      meteorites around or chondrites.

      Ancient Egyptians Accessorized With Meteorites...........death...............depleted carbon ........stony irons = carbon

      May 30, 2013 — Researchers at The Open University (OU) and The University of Manchester have found conclusive proof that Ancient Egyptians used meteorites to make symbolic accessories for their dead.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530094635.htm

      June 2, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Science, I'm glad that I only know of you through the Net. I shudder to think that I could have met you in living color.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • fintastic

      HeavenStench..... Jesus, heaven, heII, all big fat lies..................all mythology, all fairytales...

      June 3, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven

    June 2, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      June 2, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data; has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      June 2, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • TheTruth

      Some believe they're better because of their religion.
      That is not just an opinion; it's a prejudice.

      Teach your children well. Teach them to be free of prejudice.

      June 2, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Science

      Hey,,,,,,,,,,TheTruth................you know........... do you not ?

      Evolution CREATED US..........not a fairy in the sky !

      How did feathers evolve? – Carl Zimmer

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPLgfGX1I5Y&w=640&h=360]

      June 2, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Creationist

      @Science
      TheTruth: How did the internet evolve?
      Science: The internet is a miracle - god created it.

      June 2, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Whatever

      Really? When I was a child I prayed everyday that my mother wouldn't die of cancer she did. A friend's child just died and hundreds of people prayed for her on facebook. What about all those people in Oklahoma who died. You don't think they were praying. What is that quote "God why didn't you answer my prayer?" "I did the answer was no." Really then if God has a grand plan why pray for help? Why would we be arrogant enough to believe God would answer our prayers and let a young child die? Didn't that family pray hard enough.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Really, some day your denial will wear off.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Whatever, it only takes a grain as big as a mustard seed of doubt to creep in to reject Jesus' promises.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • fintastic

      Zero evidence? REJECTED!

      June 3, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  3. Reality

    And to summarize for the new members of this blog:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    June 2, 2013 at 7:01 am |
  4. GOOD NEWS

    America must find its new Religion,

    to be really blessed,

    under one Real GOD!

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    June 2, 2013 at 5:07 am |
    • Just Call Me Lucifer

      No. No more religion. You are a manipulator and profiteer. You are a fake and a liar. I will burn your soul.

      June 2, 2013 at 6:06 am |
  5. anti-nothing

    He was serious when he said it, half asleep on his chair. He said nothing could form a universe and some were paying up to $1000 a person to hear it, so I felt I had to try it myself. He didn't give any method for how he made a universe, but people everywhere believed it. He used math, lots of it. I thought about it, then I realized I needed a calculator if I was going to form a universe too like Hawking Stephen did. Here's what I've tried so far, maybe someone else can tell me why it's not working:

    1. Turn on calculator.
    2. Look at the zero, nothing is ready to create.
    3. Push the 1/X button
    4. Wait for a fraction of a second

    It doesn't work. No universe forms. Everything should melt after I push the 1/X button, but nothing doesn't do anything. It is like this every time I try it. I don't want to try anymore. It doesn't work. I have since come to the realization that if it did, anyone with a calculator could have made universes when they bought their calculator and pushed the 1/x button. We would have melted many times by now. Calculators have been out for years. I don't think math can't form a universe.

    The only one that can form a universe, is God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he is God, and he formed the universe. He said what he did, and he is right. God sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to die for the sins of those that believe him. That is who I believe, and that is who formed the universe.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:39 am |
    • Just Call Me Lucifer

      You believe a lie. There are no gods. Men created gods, each and every one. You have based your entire life fearing the wrath of a god that does not exist. Good luck with that.

      June 2, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • anti-nothing

      God didn't do as much as he did, for nothing.

      I believe him.

      June 2, 2013 at 6:56 am |
    • fintastic

      Ask him to call me... I have some questions....

      June 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • fintastic

      @anti........ "and that is who formed the universe."

      And you know this how? you got a feeling? your pastor told you?.... ..... you are deluded...

      June 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  6. faith

    do cold blooded murderers deserve to be punished? guys like bundy, ed gein, john gacey? obviously. even a nazi god hating fascist would agree.

    where does that sense of "pay back" or "justice" find validation in our laws? it permeates our judicial/criminal code. it is based on biblical principles. terwwible. just terwwible.

    from where does sambo's desire to murder all christians emerge?

    June 2, 2013 at 4:11 am |
  7. faith

    Arthur Bryant
    That's due to the fact that you and your ilk are so determined to create a christian theocracy in this country that it threatens the very basis of liberty upon which the United States was founded. Please do not come back with some nonsense about how this is a "Christian" nation. It is not, never has been, and sanity willing, never will be. You would deny those who don't believe as you do equal opportunit ies and equal rights. Please don't deny this – over and over again we see you christians positively shaking with joy at the thought of non-believers being tortured forever in a lake of fire. In fact your sickening enthusiasm has convinced me that if you could get away with it you'd make sure it happens *before* death. You people are just plain evil, and too steeped in your own nonsensical fantasies to see it.

    what a riot

    sambo, have u shown dodo ur sidearm?

    June 2, 2013 at 4:03 am |

    • GET OUT OF faith, LEGION. I COMMAND YOU BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB OF GOD.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:04 am |
    • faith

      u no what happens to unrepentant sinners who pretend they can cast out demons? do u?

      JESUS, HAVE MERCY ON THIS IDIOT

      June 2, 2013 at 4:27 am |
    • Science

      faith ..............talking about yourself again I see................to funny !

      Again there is no beast unless you are the beast ?

      June 2, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • fintastic

      @faithy............. "u no what happens to unrepentant sinners who pretend they can cast out demons? do u?"

      They end up posting crap about their imaginary gods?

      June 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  8. faith

    Arthur Bryant
    That's due to the fact that you and your ilk are so determined to create a christian theocracy in this country that it threatens the very basis of liberty upon which the United States was founded. Please do not come back with some nonsense about how this is a "Christian" nation. It is not, never has been, and sanity willing, never will be. You would deny those who don't believe as you do equal opportunities and equal rights. Please don't deny this – over and over again we see you christians positively shaking with joy at the thought of non-believers being tortured forever in a lake of fire. In fact your sickening enthusiasm has convinced me that if you could get away with it you'd make sure it happens *before* death. You people are just plain evil, and too steeped in your own nonsensical fantasies to see it.

    u r a riot, dodo

    June 2, 2013 at 4:00 am |
  9. McDuck Quackerton

    Good riddance... god is just Santa for adults.

    June 2, 2013 at 1:48 am |
  10. Creationist

    The internet will transform religions for years to come, making them more transparent, making them responsible for their own words.

    No longer will people just listen and believe; people demand proof. Google it if you have doubts. It's a great progress for mankind.

    June 2, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  11. TheTruth

    “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that's my religion.”
    ― Abraham Lincoln

    June 2, 2013 at 12:00 am |
  12. John

    Alan Watts: What to tell children about God and The Universe

    There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night, waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can’t have any one of these without the other, because you wouldn’t be able to know what black is unless you had seen it side by side with white, or white unless side by side with black.
    In the same way, there are times when the world is, and times when it isn’t, for if the world went on and on without rest forever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don’t. So because it doesn’t get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It’s like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It’s also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it’s always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn’t always hide in the same place.
    God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, He has no one but himself to play with. But He gets over this difficulty by pretending that He is not Himself. This is His way of hiding from Himself. He pretends that He is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way He has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when He wakes up they will disappear.
    Now when God plays hide and pretends that He is you and I, He does it so well that it takes Him a long time to remember where and how He hid Himself. But that’s the whole fun of it-just what He wanted to do. He doesn’t want to find Himself out too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be Himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self-the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.
    Of course, you must remember that God isn’t shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn’t any outside to Him. . . . The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as ‘He’ and not ’she,’ God isn’t a man or a woman. I didn’t say ‘it’ because we usually say ‘it’ for things that aren’t alive.
    God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes, and you certainly can’t bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.
    You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that He isn’t really doing this to anyone but Himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.

    ~Alan Watts

    June 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  13. faith

    Don't know about bill ni, whoever that is, but these two words sum up the majority of people's thoughts here: flick o f f.

    Get out of faith, LEGION. I CALL ON THE BLOOD.
    whose blood?

    and st ill these dem ons cannot deb ate me

    June 1, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • JR

      Is the newest form of occupational therapy for people letting them use the internet? Go back to stringing macaroni. You couldn't debate a rock and win.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  14. faith

    Don'tknow about bill ni, whoever that is, but these two words sum up the majority of people's thoughts here: flick off.

    Get out of faith, LEGION. I CALL ON THE BLOOD.
    whose blood?

    and still these demons cannot debate me

    June 1, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Add the word debate to the list of definitions you are completely ignorant of.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • faith

      don't end your sentences with a preposition

      midwest rail
      Add the word debate to the list of definitions you are completely ignorant "of."

      June 2, 2013 at 4:32 am |
  15. Humanity

    "It may be happening, but Americans don't like it,"

    If Americans didn't like it, it wouldn't be happening.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  16. BWilkins

    Atheists pretty much think that everything after the Big Bang just randomly fitted together, randomly became alive, and randomly started working. We as Christians have had poor representatives of our faith and who are not really Christians. What's bad is only the horrible representatives of Christianity have been on the news... like Obama 😉

    June 1, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Creationist

      The internet is so complex, god must have created it when he created human 6000 years ago. It's a miracle - believe it !!!

      June 1, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Yeah, that is pretty much non-sense, I am sure it makes you feel better about your religious belief to think that though.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • John

      Alan Watts: What to tell children about God and The Universe

      There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night, waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can’t have any one of these without the other, because you wouldn’t be able to know what black is unless you had seen it side by side with white, or white unless side by side with black.
      In the same way, there are times when the world is, and times when it isn’t, for if the world went on and on without rest forever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don’t. So because it doesn’t get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It’s like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It’s also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it’s always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn’t always hide in the same place.
      God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, He has no one but himself to play with. But He gets over this difficulty by pretending that He is not Himself. This is His way of hiding from Himself. He pretends that He is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way He has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when He wakes up they will disappear.
      Now when God plays hide and pretends that He is you and I, He does it so well that it takes Him a long time to remember where and how He hid Himself. But that’s the whole fun of it-just what He wanted to do. He doesn’t want to find Himself out too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be Himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self-the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.
      Of course, you must remember that God isn’t shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn’t any outside to Him. . . . The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as ‘He’ and not ’she,’ God isn’t a man or a woman. I didn’t say ‘it’ because we usually say ‘it’ for things that aren’t alive.
      God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes, and you certainly can’t bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.
      You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that He isn’t really doing this to anyone but Himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.

      ~Alan Watts

      June 1, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Reality

      "Alan Wilson Watts (1915-1973) was a naturalized American author and lecturer who interpreted Zen to the West. His writings were particularly popular among the so-called "beat generation" of the late 1950s and early 1960s."

      Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/alan-watts#ixzz2V1pFRcwH

      June 2, 2013 at 12:06 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Evil Church

      Pray until you are blue in the face and those people that died in the tornadoes will still be dead.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:03 pm |

    • My prayers that the military, and now the Boy Scouts of America would turn aside from their wicked judgmental ways toward gay people have been answered. To almighty God be the glory, amen.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Some believe they're better because of their religion.
      That is not just an opinion; it's a prejudice.

      Teach your children well. Teach them to be free of prejudice.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  18. Barrel staves. Arc lamp. Rain gear. You know the story.

    America losing its religion? What next, thinking that the earth isn't flat, and that there are naturally homosexual animals? Sheesh, what's with our country...

    June 1, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  19. steve4arleen

    Divine Love is one thing; religion is another: a business that is fear-driven and power hungry. I left the "church" a number of years ago - recognizing that the essence of God was way beyond the limitations of one religion.......

    June 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  20. Salero21

    😀 I see a sign saying "impeach God" one more evidence that atheism is stupidity in Full bloom.

    Now, America is a Continent and incontinent Continent BTW. The Official name of this country is The United States of America.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Science

      Hey sally worth sharing !

      And............Biggest JOKE under the SUN.................NO heaven or horn-y red devil..........never has been !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/comment-page-43/#comment-2372761

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/21/vatican-pope-didnt-perform-exorcism/#comments

      http://legalnews.findlaw.com/article/0bj7cdy2zIcqA?q=law+OR+lawsuit+OR+legal+OR+%28court+AND+law%29

      PS Do a simple search for Prof. Higgs.............the church hates that = True Comedy Gold !

      And worth sharing RCC !

      Bono at TED 2013: Eradicating extreme poverty doesn’t have to be a dream

      http://www.one.org/us/shareworthy/bono-at-ted?gclid=CIGe8cj4w7cCFcye4AodlFIAnw

      June 1, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • JR

      Do you typicalluy capitalize random words, or are your hands suffering DT tremors?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:45 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.