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. Carol

    Not surprising. For many people, politics has taken the place of religion as their faith-based belief system. Wouldn't be surprised if those people actually "prayed" to their favorite politician/political party.

    May 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Hollywood is the new Olympus and celebrities the gods.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • lol??

      Instant gratification.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • lol??

      Waivers for the more saintly believers.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  2. Doc Vestibule

    "Now we all see religion is just synthetic frippery
    Unnecessary in our expanding global cultural efficiency."

    – Dr. Greg Graffin

    May 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk


    May 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • meifumado

      I hate R.E.M.
      Talk about annoying preachy think they know it all musicians.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

    • A room can leave a scar.......
      Especially if you live above the bar....
      But a room is not a house.,..
      and a house is not a home....
      if there's too much noise, that turns you turquoise..
      And leaves nothing but a big scar.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  4. H Richey

    As long as everyone still worships God it's not the end of the world.

    May 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      well, it's not the end of whatever cult you belong to.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  5. Anna

    If it weren't for religion, in particular judaism and christianity, there would be no educated men and women and we would all be stuck in the dark ages. The barbarians destroyed much of the ancient writings around the world, in particular Africa. As they say, everything is cyclical – careful what you wish for...

    May 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Catholic church suppressed, banned and destroyed all manner of literature throughout its history, often killing the authors of said works.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • ME II

      Both Socrates(Plato?) and Aristotle lived and died before Christ.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • B

      Whew. Who told you that and tried to pass it off as anywhere close to true?

      May 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  6. Mr Dalloway

    Now that we are putting aside the religious nonsense we can rebuild our wonderful country

    May 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • lol??

      "You didn't build that." President Barack Obama on July 13, 2012

      How do ya expect your hopeys to work out when you can't keep up with the changeys?

      May 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  7. RES

    Bachman in her annnouncement for not seeking re-election said she would continue to work for Religious Liberty. In reality she and the religious right are working at the opposite, their Religious intolerance. As a lifelong Christian, losing religious influence is good for the country. Christ is in my heart and soul. I do not need prayer in school or a business to greet me with Merry Christmas during the season.

    May 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Athy

      Wow! I'm impressed, RES. A christian that actually seems intelligent. Very unusual.

      May 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  8. Pure-Religion

    2 Chronicles 7:14

    May 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  9. Colin

    I suspect (and hope) that the internet is responsible in a large part for this. Kids are now open to many different views.

    May 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Mike

      Then we need to shut it down

      May 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Science

      Hey mikie.........Not going to happen !!!


      May 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • lol??

      Hindudeuism is built on hopey changey, too.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  10. Dan Dennett Lecture at Caltech

    Free Will Determinism and Evolution


    May 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm |

    Free 300 million human from hinduism, racism as religion, but a hindu criminal mafia, in home of hinduism, racism india. IT IS A CRIME TO BE BORNE WITH DARK SKIN AND LOWER CAST FAMILY.


    May 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm |


      May 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

      more Islam bullsh it.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • meifumado

      Clean up your own act.
      While the caste system is horrid in India Islam does worse.
      Islam still to this day practices slavery.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  12. Michael

    Yes religon is the real man– where would the world be if not for religon
    In the beginning there was God and with God, came the word and with the word ,came beleivers and with beleivers came religon all in the foundation of the world .

    May 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Madtown

      Trolling doesn't come naturally to everyone. But hang in there, it can become a learned skill.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  13. chill

    This is almost a meaningless question. I'm not surprised at all at this result. Those that are religious, particularly conservatives, have been hand wringing about the country going down the tubes morally even while their numbers swell and they gain influence politically. This is just a measure of how many people are buying into the conspiracy theories and doomsday wailing of the fundamentalists that is used to sustain themselves and their donations. Seems to me that when I was younger, more people did go to church, but they were less religious in their actions than those that attend today because they want to and not because they felt it socially necessary.

    May 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • ME II

      Only "almost"?

      May 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  14. Jeremy


    May 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  15. Over 40,000 sects of insanity

    The U.S. has always been predominantly Christian. But it seems the more time goes by, the more conflicted that majority religion becomes. Perhaps that is becoming more obvious to people, especially the younger generation, and that is why we are seeing a decline overall religiosity of the population.

    Recently we learned from CNN of a child dying when their parents, members of a Christian sect in Philadelphia, as part of their faith, refused medical care. When incidents like the subject of this article come to light, many Christians are only too ready to try explain how another Christian's interpretation of ancient "scripture" is not quite right.

    There was a sect in Chile, South America late last year (November) who sacrificed a baby to a bonfire. The sect leader of this group comprised of mostly professionals had convinced the mother of the baby that the baby was an antichrist. They wrapped the baby up and slid it down a plank into a raging bonfire.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one (over 4,000,000 members) in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage. One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags". Many of these sects are equally divergent on the roles of women in society.

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri. Some believe the Pope is the Antichrist. Some believe Obama is the Antichrist.

    Some believe that celibacy is the only option for certain people, or for people in certain positions. Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but pretend not to understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease.

    Conflicted right from the start, Christianity continues to splinter, creating more and more extreme divisions, with each division trying to assert itself as some true messenger of the word of the Christian God.

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    (Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

    May 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • john

      Those horrible thing are not Christian but they are religious. There is a difference. You read none of those things in the new testament. Jesus or his followers did none of those things. Those things are of this world and the god of this world Satan.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Over 40,000 copies and counting

      Don't you get tired of putting the same old drivel up?
      Don't you have any original content to share?
      Who cares what Jefferson, Washington or Paul thinks on spiritual matters?

      May 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • mama k

      The conflict is evident in everything Christian since before the NT had settled, john.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  16. Pure-Religion

    Matthew 4:1 – 11

    Colossians 3:1 – 17

    2 Timothy 2: 1 – 13, 3: 1 – 9, 4: 1 – 5

    May 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • John Stemberger

      Chanting magic again?

      May 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Matthew 4:1-11

      How could the devil tempt Jesus (the creator or the entire universe and the devil himself) with anything and why would he try?

      May 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • john

      Jesus was also a man

      May 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Veritas

      @ John...
      Yet another demigod like so many...

      May 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • To the word

      👏 👏

      May 30, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      That is a convenient non-answer.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Exodus 21:20-21

      So, how do you like to beat your slaves?

      May 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  17. mykel armory

    There is only one path and it is Satan.

    May 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Akira


      May 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  18. richunix

    Latin Vulgate

    May 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Osama Bin Laden

      the two most common terms that get you blocked are "t.it" and "cu.m" as they are common in many words. Separarte them with a dot like I just did.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  19. richunix

    Pericope Adulterae

    May 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Coitus ergo sum.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      laissez les bon temps rouler

      May 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Colin

      Ahh, the famous forgery of John.

      May 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • lol??

      "Don't have a cow, man!"

      May 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  20. mama k

    Bill Moyers recently interviewed Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, science & biology. He is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Dr. Dennett says that not for all, but for many, the dangerous thing about religion is that "it gives people a gold-plated excuse to stop thinking."


    Do yourself a favor and watch all of Dr. Dennett's lectures available on youtube. They are excellent.

    May 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

      Colossians 2:8


      May 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • mama k

      Yes, Christianity comes with some built-in catch-phrases that scream "better not leave us, or else...".

      May 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      More Cult Logic from the bible Heaven Spent?

      May 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If that's him at his best I'll pass. The best part was Moyers reciting the Psalm from Brahms' Requiem

      May 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Ernest T Bass

      Those Jesus Freaks
      Well, they're friendly but
      The shlt they believe
      Has got their minds all shut up
      An' they don't even care
      When the church takes a cut
      Ain't it bleak when you got so much nothin'

      - Frank Zappa, "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothin'"

      May 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
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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.