Poll: America losing its religion
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May 29th, 2013
03:06 PM ET

Poll: America losing its religion

By Dan Merica, CNN
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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. mattwest2342

    Religion is dying. As the baby boomers pass away, religion will lose its biggest hold on American society. Within fifty years, those attending church regularly will seem like a cult, and none of their claims will be taken seriously.

    If you want to have your children raised in a highly religious area, try the middle east. That's where that cram was manufactured originally, and that's the last place it will die.

    November 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  2. GetFiddle Man

    I am a free-thinking non-religious person, and I really can't stand it when events like the recent Philippines tragedy leave priests and other so-called religious leaders with lame answers to obvious questions. Then I hear survivors explaining how they prayed so hard during the storm. Well, the praying didn't work real good, did it? Hello? Is anybody up there? "Yes," came the booming answer from the sky, "but look, I've been real busy looking over every person on earth and trying to keep track of what each is doing." From an historical and wonders-of-the-world position, that so many intelligent human beings have invested in religious nonsense for so long, IS the number one most phenomenal ongoing event in the history of the world.

    November 24, 2013 at 4:23 am |
  3. scientificpoetry

    Losing religion is the best thing to happen in this country – or any country for that matter. That means that decisions will be made (hopefully) based on facts and not by guidance found in fairy tales created by bronze age men...

    November 23, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  4. Jessica

    ""It may be happening, but Americans don't like it,"" Well too freaking bad. Americans don't get to control other Americans lives and their thoughts on religion.

    I'd love to see some stats on the age groups on this question. I would bet that most of them are older.

    November 23, 2013 at 2:08 am |
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    November 7, 2013 at 1:41 am |

    Subject:"Poll: America losing its religion"
    Response: Good!

    September 13, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • Paul Preiswerck

      I couldn't agree with you more. Could you imagine what this world would be like if there had been no religion? We can always dream.

      November 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Jordan N.

      Frankly this article and the poll are both misleading. It says people think religion is waning in this country, but there is nothing to suggest that it actually is, particularly when a similar percentage (75%) say we would be better off if we were more religious (curious, i wonder if that means any religion, or one particular religion). This suggests to me that at least 3 out of 4 people polled are religious and are content forcing their views on others. If anything, I think this polls suggest that the right-wing propaganda machine is successful in their rhetoric that religiosity is under persecution in this country.

      November 24, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  7. jamison

    My (blog) changing views: http://behaviorinnate.blogspot.com

    Someones others that I agree http://godisimaginary.com/video2.htm

    September 4, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • must clarify,

      my views are always changing 😉

      November 7, 2013 at 7:57 am |
      • jmo


        November 25, 2013 at 9:15 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.