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
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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. paul r

    Unfortunately, politics has become the new religion, each side following its "beliefs." Good luck, America!!!

    May 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Akira

      Yeah, there is that.
      Totally as divisive as religion can be, also.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  2. Cromartie

    Is that you in the corner?

    May 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Cromartie

      Is that you in the spotlight?

      May 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  3. Vic

    Pay attention to that the premise of the poll is Religiosity AND NOT Faith/Belief in God!


    The vast Majority of Americans still BELIEVE IN GOD!

    May 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • asdf

      Vast majority of Americans alive today will take more out of medicare than they pay in. Doesn't make things right.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  4. Ron

    God clearly speaks of a "falling away" in the end times. The falling away will be so great that the world will give honor to the Anti-Christ. The stage is being set for this even now. Do not give yourself over to the spirit of the antichrist that is even now at work. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved". Acts 2-3 Receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and escape the eternal damnation that is surely coming. "As many as received Him (Jesus Christ) to them He gave the right to become children of God." ....John 1

    May 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • The big A

      Perhaps "end times" was referring to the end of gullibility. I would agree then. People will "fall away" to become less gullible. Congrats! We have evolved out of the Iron Age.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Truth Revealed

      Yes, of course that Scripture is right, Ron. Thank you for it. But we see Heathens and Infidels preferring to live their own wayward life much like those who worshiped the golden calf until they met with their dire consequences. One can only teach them and warn them but the rest is up to them if they care enough about the Eternal salvation of their soul, once they perish from this world.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Ron

      Truth, amen

      May 29, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      It's been "the end times" for, oh, 2,000 years now. Every other day. Jesus has been coming back any day now for, oh, 2,000 years now. The Revelation (not "revelations" as most xtians call it) has been pointed to as proof that The End is nigh for, oh, 2,000 years now.
      Excuse us if we don't get too excited.

      May 30, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  5. lh

    2 Timothy 3:1-5 (KJV)

    3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

    4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

    5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Ron

      IH, amen

      May 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Oh look, someone quoting the bible to "prove" that the bible is true. Gosh, that *never* happens.

      May 30, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  6. P

    Reasons why atheism is horrible and unhealthy for our children and living things:

    – Atheists do not have any morality, are heartless, soulless and cold.
    – Atheists grew up in a bad family, not being loved and treated bad.
    – Atheism was brought upon during the French Revolution, one of the most evil time of history.
    – Communism – evil system created by atheists!
    – Atheists cannot prove God does not exist and how Earth was created.
    – No atheists contribute to charitable causes, unlike Christians, due to atheism beliefs in Darwinism.
    – Atheism making you agree with mass murder leaders like Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussolini and even Hitler!
    – Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith and belief.
    – Countries with high rate of atheism = high suicide rate (Nordic nations).
    – Atheists tries to convert (young) people into their evil belief over the internet.
    – Atheists believe in evolutions, and want us to act like animals.
    – Atheists bash Christianity based on Jewish scriptures (Old Testament/Torah) and organized religion, and tend to ignore or forget how amazing, loving, friendly, supportive, and excellent the most influential person who has even walked on Earth, Jesus Christ, was.
    – Atheists do not believe in Jesus Christ; therefore they must hate their neighbor and enemy.

    Atheists are minority in the U.S. and the world no matter what "secular" sources and polls voted by few thousands of people tells you that were made up by silly atheists dreaming about making America more atheist, unbiblical and unGodly than what it actually is. More than 90% of Americans believe in God. Period!

    PS: Thank God for the cancer and death of Christopher Hitchens at young age. His punishment for spreading false hatred of our creator! 🙂 ..

    May 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      You are the poster child for why people are deserting religion in droves.
      You've no idea how crazy you appear.
      Fortunately, most of us see you for the ignoramus that you are.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Juliett13

      I'd feel much safer living next to an Atheist then an American hating, bloodthirsty Muslim.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Siestasis

      You are one sick puppy. Please get help before your hatred of your fellow man leads you to violence.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • The big A

      Ignorant Troll is Ignorant.

      Mr. Hitchens lived twice as long as your zombie friend.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Faithless

      Urgent psychiatry consult please...God is a DJ :).

      May 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm |

      This type of cloudy thinking is perhaps the most simple example behind the trend away from religion. Coexistence with this type of thinking is as impossible as coexistence with fascism and stalinism. The sooner we wake up to the better. utube: /watch?v=L5mXQP72cIY

      May 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • mama k

      Atheism means only one thing, one doesn't believe in a god or gods, nothing more. Ideologies of any stripe taken to extremes get people killed. That you mix concepts like atheism and twisted ideologies of dictators of past failed regimes just highlights your stupidity on the matter........

      May 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Dan

      Only a christian could end a sentence basking in the death of another human being with a smiley face. Please post your comment everywhere else you can tonight. It just pushes more people away from your hateful cult.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Arthur

      The comment couldn't be any more off. The majority of the few people I would trust my life with are Atheists yet they are the most caring group. We do many charitable work together that the State and the Church neglect. We have the utmost respect for other peoples' belief and even participate in the rites celebrating life be that of birth, union, or death. The Atheists I know would not want to go to Heaven if that is where a priest/evangelist child molester go.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Sean Irg

      Wow... I've never seen such drivel. Simply, you're in idiot. Most of the most horrible criminals in history were of the Christian faith. Your prisons are packed with religious people. Your country is engaged in a modern day crusade.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • t

      wow..you kiss people you love with that mouth and then hate anyone else with a death grip on your bible.....don't be fooled by what you think. Repeating a few scriptures does nothing for the world: it doesn't stop violence, or war or children starving to death. Put your bible where it counts and do some good. Remember, St. Augustine invented original sin because he couldn't control his own behaviors..where was his m orality? Stop hating atheists, or anyone for that matter until you look deeply into your own depraved soul. Using God to hate is just as sinful as any terrorist. Said with love..

      May 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • the AnViL™

      see how easy it is to troll atheists?

      trolling delusional xians is far more challenging.


      May 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • The Lost Sheep

      What is truly Sad, P, is that these Heathens and Infidels are now in such a dire hurry to dig their own graves listening to the lies being perpetuated by one another in an effort to live a life where they know they will not be able to enter into Heaven when they die. That is the saddest part about it because right now they can All change that, even if they don't currently believe in God or in Heaven for it is far better to err on the side of Caution than to encounter what awaits them at the time of their death. We can only continue to pray for these lost sheep.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • jeremy0

      Atheism is the acknowledgement that god is not necessary for life. It is also the acknowledgement that all of our religions are false, contradictory, and following in the behavior of delusional thought. Atheism is an acknowledgement of science and physics. We have proven the gospels and the torah (christianity) absolutely false, with reason, study, tests, and scientific and philisophical observation.

      Morality is shaped by your genetics and environmental factors. Religion is an environmental factor. It is not necessary to shape morality, however – and in recent and historical times the ones that posessed better morality than others were the ones not holding onto their religious beliefs. If we did, we would still have slavery and instead of treating patients in hospitals we would have miracle healers and prayer – and believe every disease or ill event away – just like your 0BC-based belief system dictates.

      It's time to wake up to the 21st century. Stop hating people just because they don't agree with hell and your form of god. Start getting intelligence. Start studying physics, evolution, and other topics of science that you obviously ignored. Just because you failed to read non-fiction books and instead read a ceer-based 'holy book' doesn't mean you are right.

      And you said that we atheists hate our neighbors and such, when you clearly hate your neighbors, i.e. muslims, provoking a third world 'holy war', and advocating for someone's youthful death and endless suffering and thanking god for it.

      I.e. – you're in a cult. Wake up and get back to reality. Don't talk to us about your false beliefs. Reality is awesome! That's what atheism is based on – science and reality.

      For more information, look up 'famous atheists' and whywontgodhealamputees..

      May 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  7. mn moderate

    If there were less religious nuts in this world everyone would be much better off

    May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Faithless

      Amen to that! Religion is the utmost evil, ANY religion at all

      May 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  8. Pale Horseman

    We are created to develop our own will, but churches teach you to do God's will...

    Some guy that Terrorists seem to love!

    May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
  9. CommonSense

    No, America isn't losing it's religion. But, Religion needs to find it's place in America. Where is that? It's far away and completely detached from government and elected officials.
    You can have your religion, and churches. You can go and sing songs and pray to any gods you like. You can have religious social events. No one will take that away.
    But religion's influence on politics needs to be destroyed. And, with the rise of Islam, which is far more much more destructive than Christianity in our current society, religious people should be leading the charge to separate church from
    By keeping your religion away from politics you keep OTHER religions away from politics and government.
    See the power of democracy in that situation!

    May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • mn moderate

      Got that right!

      May 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Too true.
      The problem is that the churches preach that their flock must evangelize and proselytize.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Siestasis


      May 29, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
  10. Linda Revere

    Week after week, CNN tries to shock and influence by serving up stories that atheists are up and religion is down...Christians are uneducated fools, "God Is dead" or irrelevant, etc. The shallow limits of faith and belief. that you present as fact are laughable and pitiable. Come back and speak to us when you've done your homework! Have your CNN commentators studied religions, spirituality, faith at all?

    Yes some organized religions are shams for profit. But only a tiny minority overall. Public prayer and worship are socially precious freedoms, and private, personal prayer is a balm for the mind and soul ...a miracle. We approach and address the Creator of the universe as our Father, and call upon Jesus as His true son. We are his brothers and sisters. This knowledge is a fabulous gift. Atheists and agnostics reject the gift–the Grand Pari (Bet), as Pascal says. "Live as if God exists, and if you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager without hesitation." Atheists and agnostics stand outside the riches of the all-good Creator, sneering in their pride at the Divine invitation to take and accept. They are the irrational ones, the souls who can't accept God because they want to be gods themselves.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Every religion is a sham.
      Every religion is a cult.
      If they didn't indoctrinate (brainwash) children, they would disappear in a generation.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      That's right. Let's find out if that snake really spoke and if we used a human being as a scapegoat for humanity and tortured him to death to remove our supposed sins.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Skooter

      Pascal's Wager? Seriously?
      You could apply that wager to every god ever invented by man. Are you willing to take the risk of not believing in gods such as Zeus, Apollo, Ra, Nabu, Izanagi, etc.?

      Also, you don't get to choose what you believe. Either you're convinced, or you're not. So if you "believe" only because of Pascal's wager then you don't truly believe anyway. Don't you think a true god would see through the facade?

      May 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • paul

      exactly-God created us intelligent humans, politics should be separated from religion, politics is not religion, religion is not politics, god left us with the ability to do things on our own, i do not believe that religion should be ranting on in public to those that do not believe, the general public will respect you more for the life they see you liveing than engageing in a argumentive debate, you should only answer questions about your own religion when you are asked , avoid condemning other peoples beliefs, in this country we have freedom and liberty to live and worship as we choose, there are other country,s that lost those privileges, we should all be peace loveing people,

      May 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      @ Linda: "public prayer and worship are socially valuable freedoms?"

      Matthew 6:5-6 ESV
      “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  11. MagicPanties

    buh-bye, god.
    I'd say it was nice knowing ya, but I only imagined you.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  12. Louis

    All atheists will convert sooner or later. Get cancer or past 70, they will pray to God

    May 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Just another version of "no atheists in foxholes" and just as baseless.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      So you equate cancer somehow with anit-religion?
      And you wonder why people run away in droves from people like you.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • uos_spo6

      isn't that a feather in the cap of atheism? In a weakened vulnerable emotional state, where do you turn? Reassuring tales to put your mind at ease.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • creative36


      May 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • thisguy

      Is that why Atheism is the fast growing belief?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm |

      That some believers actually believe the 'no atheists in foxholes' argument is perplexing. Wouldn't it be most likely that if you were in a foxhole you would just admit what your eyes are telling you? God cares about your status in a foxhole as much as he/she/it cares about the historical genocidal killing of millions of god's chosen people. Not at all. When you grasp that, your paradigm will be the one that changes in that foxhole.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      @louis: Do you have evidence for your assertion or is it just like your belief in god...wishful thinking?

      May 29, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • CommonSense

      Your comment is rather empty of any meaning. My father had cancer after 70 and he didn't "convert".
      Come on, man. Think about what you say. Don't just repeat slogans that you hear.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Oh yes, of course; everyone on earth will eventually see the error of their ways. I guess that'll happen when jesus appears in the sky riding a cloud. Which is to say – never. Now, jesus appearing on a slice of toast on the other hand......

      May 30, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  13. Andrew

    Good. That's all that needs to be said really.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  14. Fundies Gone Wild! They are panicking!!


    May 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  15. Antman

    I'm glad to see this trend I hope it keeps going in the same direction. Not a lot of parents in the US teach their kids how to think, only what to think.

    I was pretty lucky. I had to go to church every sunday but once I was 14 my parents let me decide my religious future. We talked for a few weeks and they understood my beliefs. They never once punished me for it either. Which from experience is not the norm at all.

    My Ex-Girlfriend's Mom would scream at her over the phone if she said she might not be able to make it to church that sunday... she was in your 20s... Very Christ like right? My current girlfriend is afraid to come out of the closet that she is agnostic to her parents.

    This nation still has a way to go... No Atheist can hold public office in some states, In God we Trust on the dollar bill, One nation under God in the pledge... Creationism in school? Religious beliefs affecting politics? Where is the separation of church and state?

    May 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  16. Love

    "Blessed are those who have not yet seen me" – Jesus

    May 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Then everyone is blessed.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      "Shhhh....we're hunting for wabbits!" – Elmer

      May 30, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  17. jman

    wow.... polling is complete garbage sometimes. basically they asked 1500 people out of a nation of 300 mil and write an article based on it. Thanks to Dan Merica for wasting space on a legit news website. If i polled enough times to the right group of people iI could probably come up with any bogus and useless statistic as well.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • rukind

      Religion being outgrown? This could only bode WELL for a nation of free, educated, thinking people...

      May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • GD

      If you knew even the slightest thing about statistics, you would understand the significance of the sample size - in terms of accuracy.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • ..

      He's reporting on a poll. If you don't like it, why click on the story? You wasted your own time by reading it and commenting on it. Dan Merica did his job right, and you're the dork who is put out by it, lmfao!

      May 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Polling is complete garbage when it doesn't agree with you.

      May 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  18. dw1650

    Claiming superiority over another human being is a mechanized obsession to justify ones own defects.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Chris

      Not really. It's just fun when you're right about something and the other person just refuses to admit it.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  19. Bobby Uppot

    If you read the Bible you see that God judges people and nations. We are all accountable to him for our thoughts, words and actions.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, nonsense. Your giant fairy doesn't recognize borders, states, and nations.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      If you read my scatalogical tea leaves, you will see that my invisible pink unicorn controls the universe.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Ah, yes. Celestial North Korea.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Roger

      Right, thats why I only whip my slaves when the bible says its appropriate.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Have you read the bible? Your god is a psychopathic child whom seems to like to cause pain to all he touches.

      May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • bob

      if the gods of the bible exists he ought to be on his knees begging out forgiveness. he isnt qualified to judge american idol, let alone nations.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Bobby Uppot

      The Bible is the truth.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Christianity is just like North Korea

      In North Korea :
      You are afraid of offending the all-powerful ruler because of what he could do to you.
      They tell you which thoughts are good and which thoughts are bad
      They tell you every other kind of Communism is bad and non-communists are evil in carnet. They tell you that their words are THE TRUTH and because of that, you must believe what they tell you and to question it is a CRIME AGAINST THE STATE!
      They tell you that you will be horribly punished for the rest of your life if you don’t do what they tell you, believe what they say or think wrong thoughts

      In Christianity:
      You are afraid of offending the all-powerful god because of what he could do to you.
      They tell you which thoughts are good and which thoughts are bad
      They tell you every other kind of christianity is bad and non christians are evil in carnet.
      They tell you that their words are THE TRUTH and because of that you must believe what they tell you and to question it is a SIN AGAINST GOD!
      They tell you that you will be horribly punished for the rest of eternity if you don’t do what they tell you, believe what they say or think wrong thoughts

      May 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  20. Mar

    Don't be so fast to jump for joy something will always fill the void..Humans will always believe in something it will be religion or government but they will always make something to worship...Atheists worship themselves.

    May 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Atheists worship themselves." Evidence? Cite? Statistics? Proof?

      May 29, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • uos_spo6

      Total nonsense. We elevate only the position we hold on the religious question of "Divinity" and the ingrained long term detrimental effects upon a completely jaded society it's warm embrace has created. In complete removal from the discussion at hand, an atheist true to his spiritual convictions recognizes the concept of worship and worth is meaningless. Every individual is as valuable and expandable as the next. Separate from the spiritual question is the question of a comfortable existence, the easiest means to achieve which is to respect one another and not try and run peoples lives. Unfortunately, Religion is quite a hurdle to this. It is about running peoples lives. Evangelical or not, the propagation of the idea of the existence of a Divine being is offensive to all of us. It fosters deeply seeded jaded mental justifications and validations that come in to play on all sorts of levels of basic human interaction. The sooner mankind has expunged this ancient philosophical idea from his "real thinking" mind, the better for all of us.

      There's no order or justice except what we perceive and make.

      May 29, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Mar

      History proves you wrong uos_spo6..Maybe that is the problem with atheists ignorance of history....

      May 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So Mar, you have nothing to back up your statements? Gee, how shocked am I?

      "Maybe the problem with atheists is...."

      What makes you think any atheist has a problem at all?

      May 30, 2013 at 7:57 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.