October 9th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
Survey: One in five Americans has no religion
Editor's note: CNN recently won four first-place reporting awards from the Religion Newswriters Association. Read more about the awards here.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.
The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The survey found that the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans.
Thirty-three million Americans now have no religious affiliation, with 13 million in that group identifying as either atheist or agnostic, according to the new survey.
Pew found that those who are religiously unaffiliated are strikingly less religious than the public at large. They attend church infrequently, if at all, are largely not seeking out religion and say that the lack of it in their lives is of little importance.
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And yet Pew found that 68% of the religiously unaffiliated say they believe in God, while 37% describe themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.” One in five said that they even pray every day.
John Green, a senior research adviser at Pew, breaks the religiously unaffiliated into three groups. First, he says, are those who were raised totally outside organized religion.
Survey: Protestants no longer majority in U.S.
Second are groups of people who were unhappy with their religions and left.
The third group, Green says, comprises Americans who were never really engaged with religion in the first place, even though they were raised in religious households.
“In the past, we would describe those people as nominally affiliated. They might say, 'I am Catholic; I am a Baptist,' but they never went" to services, Green says of this last group. “Now, they feel a lot more comfortable just saying, ‘You know, I am really nothing.’ ”
According to the poll, 88% of religiously unaffiliated people are not looking for religion.
“There is much less of a stigma attached" to not being religious, Green said. “Part of what is fueling this growth is that a lot of people who were never very religious now feel comfortable saying that they don't have an affiliation.”
Demographically, the growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been most notable among people who are 18 to 29 years old.
According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated. Among “older millennials,” born between 1981 and 1989, 30% are religiously unaffiliated: 4 percentage points higher than in 2007.
Poll respondents 18-29 were also more likely to identify as atheist or agnostic. Nearly 42% religious unaffiliated people from that age group identified as atheist or agnostic, a number far greater than the number who identified as Christian (18%) of Catholic (18%).
Green says that these numbers are “part of a broader change in American society.”
“The unaffiliated have become a more distinct group,” he said.
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Pew's numbers were met with elation among atheist and secular leaders. Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance, said that the growth of the unaffiliated should translate into greater political representation for secular interests.
“We would love to see the political leaders lead on this issue, but we are perfectly content with them following these demographic trends, following the voters,” Galef said.
“As more of the voters are unaffiliated and identifying as atheist and agnostics, I think the politicians will follow that for votes.
“We won’t be dismissed or ignored anymore,” Galef said.
The Pew survey suggested that the Democratic Party would do well to recognize the growth of the unaffiliated, since 63% of them identify with or lean toward that political group. Only 26% of the unaffiliated do the same with the Republican Party.
"In the near future, if not this year, the unaffiliated voters will be as important as the traditionally religious are to the Republican Party collation,” Green predicted.
Green points to the 2008 exit polls as evidence for that prediction. That year, Republican presidential nominee John McCain beat President Barack Obama by 47 points among white evangelical voters, while Obama had a 52-point margin of victory over McCain among the religiously unaffiliated.
According to exit polls, the proportion of religiously unaffiliated Americans who supported the Democratic presidential candidate grew 14 points from 2000 to 2008.
In announcing the survey’s findings at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Bethesda, Maryland, Green said the growing political power of the unaffiliated within the Democratic Party could become similar to the power the Religious Right acquired in the GOP in the 1980s.
“Given the growing numbers of the unaffiliated, there is the potential that that could be harnessed,” he said.
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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.
Not really a surprise. We have a President of the United States who is waging all out war on the Catholic Church and trying to drive Christianity underground and out of public sight. We have atheist organizations that go to left wing judges every time anyone dares to say Merry Christmas, and nobody fights back. Chrisitianity and religion in general is being erradicated by the left wing secular Elites starting with Obama as fast as they can erradicate it.
I'm a Romney guy, but W T F are you talking about? Obama never even brings up religion, and his ridiculous health care plan wasn't designed to combat religion, it's just the first crack at socialism.
Is that why he retained Bush's faith-based initiatives and gave them greater funding?
Utter bull. complete bull .Dont play the victim here. You have 2000 years of ruling the world, butchering and oppressing people. You have a lengthy history in the US of theocratic oppression. There is no oppression. There are people who want secular government, there are people who want true equality and true separation of church and state. If someone gets mad at you for saying merry christmas, they're either a real jerk or some PC do gooder with a chip on their shoulder. Atheists are just tired of religion dictating and forcing themselves on the world.
sorry valwayne but you know bearing false witness is a big no-no right?
feeling a bit put upon? did the good father not give you the common courtesy of a reach around?
There is way too much focus on how corrupt, fairytalelish, and violent religions are, and way too little focus on how corrupt, vanity, and violent the "intelligent" humanity is, religious or not.
Hmm. I agree with that one.
Everyone believes in something or some things.
The question what is it that you believe, and whom do you trust?
For Christians (I being one of them), the questiion is will you put your trust in Jesus Christ, who was crucified for our sins, and who we believe was raised from the dead.
I'm sure it has been said many times, but "life is pointless, without hope of the resurrection", which is what Jesus Christ promised to those who trust him.
I'm putting my faith in him.
Life is pointless if you're not brainwashed.
Yeah atheists, you can only hide on this blog trying to lift each other's spirits until Obama hits the kill switch, then it's back to your lonesome meaningless empty lives. Think about it.
"""Everyone believes in something or some things."""
Every religion is batsh!t crazy – except the one that you believe in.
You *trust* that petulant, psychopathic, homicidal monster that is "Bible God"?!
Another similar study showed that the fastest growing religious group in America was the Obamists. These people believe that Obama is the second coming of the Messiah.
Though bizarrely the only ones who ever call him 'messiah' are right wing nuts.
Jesus is "coming".....can you imagine a divine money shot? I'm thinking we all need to run for cover before he busts his holy nut.
I was born a Snake Handler and i'll die a Snake Handler.
Probably from a snake bite.
CNN may be "losing their religeon", but I'm not.
We know that many knuckle-dragging ignorant people still post here.
Now, now David, don't get down on yourself like that.
good for you, trust.
Religion is a disease that makes rational people believe absurd things without evidence. What this article discusses is simply the first step to enlightenment.... rational enlightenment. Over time, as mankind becomes more educated, the notion of an invisible man who lives in the sky watching over us will slowly fade away into oblivion.
It is a way to control the weak minded masses, to acquire wealth through the pyramid scheme of church donations, and a way to get some underaged tail under the cover of gawwwd.
There is not other God but truth absolute.Study quantum Physic's, nothing can exist without a constant, and constant is also known as truth absolute, Truth absolute is GOD and "HE" is God of Abraham and mine.
Well, you've already indicated you are coo coo by your screen name, so have at it.
The study forgot to include categories for those who believe they believe but don't really believe and those who say they believe hoping that we believe them and on the odd chance there really is a god, god might just buy it, too.
The problem is not with peope becoming less religious but becoming more egotistical, immoral, and purposeless.
Or trusting empirical evidence and reason more than faith...
But, you could be right–in a universe where wrong people are right.
So you agree that less people partaking in organized religion is a good thing too.
You are WRONG. What is happening is that people are more intelligent. They are smart enough not to believe the lies of the sky fairies that will make them burn forever in some unknown place. In other words people are able to think and decide for themselves and not fall pray to someone wearing a collar and trying to run their life.
This is a positive trend and hopefully religion will got the way of the dinosaurs and become extint. Religion is the most evil and vile creation on this planet.
ironman59.........if people are so intelligent then why is the corn dying all over the us, why is the west nile virus killing us and the meningitis, why is the gas $5.00 a gallon in CA and why do we have a president that can't produce a birth certificate.
You've kicked God out of America and it is falling apart. REAL INTELLIGENT! Let's see man turn this mess around without God! Won't happen!
"Professing themselves to be WISE, they became FOOLS......." Romans ch 1.
Atheists in Russia and China have killed more of their own citizens than all the lives lost in all the wars ever fought!
Trustin N. D' Lawd,
"Professing themselves to be WISE, they became FOOLS."
And yet I'll bet you think yourself to be WISE to believe that, huh?
It's turtles all the way down, pal.
.........if people are so intelligent then why is the corn dying all over the us, why is the west nile virus killing us and the meningitis, why is the gas $5.00 a gallon in CA..........well seeing as the people in charge seem to be all christians why not ask them?
'and why do we have a president that can't produce a birth certificate.'
ah an after-birther. explains a lot.
'You've kicked God out of America and it is falling apart. REAL INTELLIGENT! Let's see man turn this mess around without God! Won't happen!' – yeah lets go back to the good old days when god was in the US, like the times of jim crow, recession, and other grand messes.
We're a decade behind Western Europe. In Europe there are thousands upon thousands of beautiful churches–that are now nothing but empty museum pieces.
And it's going to be a snowball effect. Another 50 years and it'll be an embarrassment to publicly claim that you take the leather bound book of primitive short stories seriously. But the real question here is why has it taken so long? With modern science and all its evidence and the banning of religion from public schools for going on 100 years now, why is it taking so long for so many to drop the absurd security blanket called religion?
It's true, but if the killer meteoryte was heading our way, all these empty churches would fill up in no time.
Full of fools.
One of the reasons it took me awhile to get to courage to question everything 20-some years ago was because I was taught that any doubts that cropped up in our minds were caused by "the devil". If I had any doubts, I, at first, terminated by thinking and asked "God" to forgive me. I believed all the preachers and tv evangelists and was literally terrified of hell as a child. As a young adult, that was a tough nut to crack. That was my greatest accomplishment and gift to myself.
Ted – I'd look for a more solid structure – like a safe room or a vault. Ideally a submarine. Note the survival of the submersable crocodile and alligator dinosaurs.
One reason why your world will never be entirely free of Christian believers is that when manyof us go to Church, when we Pray to our Savior, we actually feel something and we know that it is real and undeniable. Sir, for those who believe, no proof is neccessary and for atheists, there could never be enough proof.
I don't much care if churches would fill up, Ted, but undoubtedly an approaching meteorite would cause nations and governments, scientists and everyone else to work together to save Earth.... no matter which god they believe or don't believe in.
Trustin N. D' Lawd,
"for atheists, there could never be enough proof."
- An omniscient "God" would know *precisely* what proof is acceptable to each and every one of us individually.
- An omnipotent "God" would be able to provide it.
- An all-loving "God" would do so.
Quake, quake .....blahhhhh blahhhh blahhhh......oink oink, qua quack.
Thanks to the Muslim Obama all religions are on their way to being out-lawed under his support for the Koran and Sharia Law.
American you need to go bury your head back in the sand.
Jeez, American, that's quite a claim. I'd be careful with that. Can the people in the next trailer hear you when you express your views at the dinner table?
What I've never understood is why no major organized religion today worships the sun. I mean if you MUST worship something why not worship a celestial body that the Earth revolves around, is responsible for all life on the planet, and this is the important part, CAN BE SEEN EVERY DAY AS REAL AND NOT IMAGINARY.
hindu's pagan's of hindered gutter of hinduism, paganism india do.
Explain something to me - all knowing Tony.
Can you explain to me why the Bible states that in the end times. Stories like this will become FACT?
Can you explain to me how a book made in the "dark ages" as trolls would call it, predict that all nations will become one (excluding jerusalem)? (By the way, since you're smart you can use google as it has been contemplated many times and attempted many times [starting with the UN])
Can you explain to me how the bible predicts that there will be a device created of which you will not be able to buy/sell with out having it implated under your skin? (Google it, there are tests in florida of such a device of which they are testing on Dogs as tracking devices, of which human trials have BEGAN and have implated them under the forhead or hand?)
The bible predicted these things in the end days.
Yet it was written so many centuries ago. EXPLAIN it to me, all knowing tony, since you have your facts straight.
Uninformed athiest troll, is uninformed.
I pray for you, Tony
If only I could be so grossly incandescent!
The Earth has recently changed orbit and rotational patterns and is now spinning around a point located on the Earth's surface. A majority of the time it can be found on a golf course near Washington D.C. The Earth no longer revolves around the sun, it revolves around Obama.
Can you explain to me how David Copperfield disappears from stage and reappears 10 seconds later at the back of the room? Can you explain to me why fortune cookies at panda express and daily horoscopes seem to fit our lives perfectly? I don't worship David Copperfield as a god or take fortune cookies as the written word of truth because I know how easy it is to trick the human mind into believing in the supernatural. The sun by contrast is in the heavens, provides light and warmth and life to the planet, is there every day for me to look at, and doesn't judge me. ALL GLORY TO THE SUN!!!
Hey QMAN – sources please? Since you're the 'bible expert', give us the scriptures you think support your claims. Then we'll talk.
I'll leave it up to you to find the scripture in the bible. The self discovery is a thing of which is mind shattering.
By the way, magic tricks are optical illusions – they arent really there.
Panda express fortune cookies don't fit to anyones life perfectly – they are not meant to. If they fit to yours, maybe the one I found about being more open minded would suit you perfectly.
Lastly, you never answered my question.
You suck at debates.
Now that I have answered yours, please elaborate on my question. I advised you to use google, but I see obviously you have not - what are you afraid of finding?
By the way, since you're too lazy
I'll leave verifying their sources up to you.
Good day, Tony
"Can you explain to me how the bible predicts that there will be a device created of which you will not be able to buy/sell with out having it implated under your skin?"
Tell us where we can find the passage that talks about implants under the skin.
you make the claim, you provide the evidence.
Yeah leave it to a christian fanatic to say some as childish as "you suck at debates." And we were never debating. I was saying that it makes more sense to worship the sun and you inject a completely different topic into my comment thread, which again is something a child would do. Yes obviously magic tricks are an illusion. The question is how are they any less legitimate than the "miracles" espoused in an ancient book of stories? If an illusionist could devise ways to trick people now, they could definitely trick people thousands of years ago. BTW did you know that all matter on Earth is made of matter from dead stars? That means that stars DIED so that we could LIVE. So again I propose that it makes more sense to worship stars. Stay on topic please.
You're right – I did change the "subject". I was providing you with a question since you thought it was more feesable to worship the sun. Don't get upset
Still didn't answer the question though.
And the link of the "evidence" is in the link above.
No hard feelings, Mr. Tony.
"""I'll leave it up to you to find the scripture in the bible"""
I thought so.
QMAN = FAIL
'And the link of the "evidence" is in the link above. "
no, we asked for the evidence in the bible that claims this.
Just because I'd rather not waste my time explaining something to some one who won't take the time to look into it themselves, isn't fail. It just prevents counter-productivity.
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave,
to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,
and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark,
or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
There you go.
I started the thread, so I don't have to answer any questions that are off topic and ALL of your posts have been off topic. Post your own thread on your "end of days" nonsense if you like, but hijacking other threads is simply self centered and un-christian like. Wait, did I say un-christian? I meant being self centered is the EPITOME of American christianity. My bad.
I will also include that the implant highlighted in the link above is to be installed in the hand, or forhead.
Me hijacking your thread has nothign to do with my religion. Or any religion for that matter.
Just simply shows I originally didn't understand your post fully, of which I admit.
None-the-less though, I was attempting to make a statement against your theory in a poor attempt to provide you with facts to show maybe it isn't so stupid to believe in something other than what you stated.
Jesus is actually the Sun. This is probably the best 27 minutes you will ever spend. It explains exactly how Jesus is an allegory for the sun. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88GTUXvp-50
God is truth absolute and God gave humanity truth to live by, reason is of hindu's, denier of truth absolute GOD, living just like a hindu, hungry dog to please their hindu soul, filthy desire with an excuse of a reason.
But, of course, you can't prove your main claim, that your god is absolute truth and whatnot.
Study quantum Physic's, nothing can exist without a constant, and constant is also known as truth absolute, Truth absolute is GOD and "HE" is God of Abraham and mine.
That's a categorization mistake and also an equivocation.
A constant in physics is, of course, not the same as, say, a personal invisible super friends that cares about you. They're not mutually inclusive either.
Such a constant could also exist in our universe, but not exist in other universes.. or it could be a different constant also. The god you're speaking of, being supernatural, does not exist in the natural world (universe); thus, he cannot be the constant which you're talking about.
Uninformed athiest trolls are uninformed.
Why yes they are.
Seems obvious frankly.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect basically says that incompetent people are too incompetent to realize they are incompetent. This continues to be true regardless of their religious beliefs or absence thereof.
† Atheists have bad breath, and their body odor is not so good either (the result of eating babies).
† Atheists watch the wrong TV shows. Nature, DWTS. Need I say more?
† Atheists proclaim knowledge is good. That's just so STUPID!
† You can't potty train an atheist. He'll pee on your rug every time.
† Atheists can not be trusted between the hours of midnight and 3am. Hide your money during those hours and pray.
† The Bible says atheists should be tenderized, sauteed, and eaten with relish. But not on Sunday, because that would be wrong.
I you have love in your heart.....you have God
if you have god in your heart you have hate and violence.
I'll stick with blood, thanks all the same.
To LOVE another person is to see the face of God.
He's in my chocolate starfish not my heart.
"To LOVE another person is to see the face of God."
WRONG!!!! Love is an emotion that was around long before your imaginary friend was thought up. I love my daughter and certainly don't see images of anything. You christians don't get to take credit for love...you can take credit for other things-homophobia throughout, mass death in the name of your imaginary friends, oppression of women...
"I like your Christ. I don't like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ".
America's "Christianity" is so un-Christ-like...favoring money over humanity, war-mongering and non-stop lies (to name a few). We are NOT a "Christian" nation!
There were many countries of which took the same route.
Unfortunately, after many years.. those countries do not exist anymore.
Don't worry, America will fallow suit– as every nation on this planet will. With the exception of Jerusalem.
It will be a one world order, you just wait and see. And we will all soon have a tracking device of which we cannot buy, or sell with out it implanted underneath our skin.
Read on it. It has been in testing for many years on Dogs and human trials have already started. I feel sad for us all
Qman, you wouldn't be so sad if you'd taken up science fiction. It would have fulfilled your obvious yearning for a fantasy life without the nuisance of having to think it had diddlly-squat to do with reallty.
Believer, atheist, agnostic - whatever. Live and let live.
Failed attempt at trolling, I see.
Ignorance is your best friend, unfortunately.
You stay out of my way, I'll stay out of yours.
"There were many countries of which took the same route.
Unfortunately, after many years.. those countries do not exist anymore"
interesting, such as?