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)

    To be Religious is Good,

    if your Religion is True,

    and your GOD is Real.


    May 30, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Science

      GOOD NEWS.................feed your pig. and bookmark...............better than yours .

      Feed the Pig



      May 30, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  2. faith

    do u think i don't no about this technique?
    do u think advertisers don't own ur fanny?


    May 30, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  3. faith

    ken in MO
    I think the worst thing that could have ever happened, actually happened. Religion has become a political party. The views of it leaders often do the most vile and unethical things. THey praise the rich and scorn the poor calling them lazy and beneath them, they tell everyone that you are on your own. You have no right to be treated with healthcare; you have a right to die and I have a right to not care.
    People are not leaving Religion....Religion is leaving people...and God.

    dodo, please, i asked u nicely

    May 30, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  4. HeavenSent

    For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

    1 Timothy 6:10


    May 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • faith

      it is a root of all kinds of evil is more accurate

      For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Deuteronomy 4:2

      Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.


      May 30, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  5. 60s flower girl

    How sad that we still have this discussion–"my way or the highway". God, if he/she exists, should find this very disheartening. As long as we continue to try to beat each other into submission to a single point of view, we prove the very existence of a non-god. Horrah for freedom of thought.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  6. HeavenSent

    Genesis 2:7

    And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

    Genesis 3:14

    And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou [art] cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

    Genesis 3:19

    In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.


    May 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Science

      HS + BS = BS

      May 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      1 Timothy 6:20-21

      20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
      21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.  KJV

      May 30, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  7. Bertrand Russell

    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision."

    May 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • faith

      he rejected christ 4 cursing the fig tree

      Bertrand Russell
      "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision."

      May 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  8. Visitor

    I have bookmarked your site, I like this blog very much The comments section is very interesting. Are mostt commenters from across the seas?

    May 30, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • HeavenScent

      Most of us are from North Korea.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Phony heavensent's need for the sin of stealing my handle is beyond her control.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  9. Kimgrass

    If there is no God, then how in the world did I get healed from an "incurable disease?" I was told that I would have to take medicine for the rest of my life when I was 16. Jesus healed me, and I have seen many healed by Him. Jesus is the way and the truth. Devil doesn't heal, but creates problems.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Kathy

      Kim – Is it possible that you could have been misdiagnosed? Did you get a second opinion from your doctor? How do you know it was Jesus that healed you and not the Muslim god, or any number of pagan / Hindu gods?

      May 30, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Sure sure

      I wish you had an incurrable missing leg so that we could see Jesus cure that... that would be a miracle.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Really? That's wonderful. It's nice that Jesus helped you and yet he does nothing to help children that die daily from cancer. You're so special.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • faith

      "Jesus freaker
      Really? That's wonderful. It's nice that Jesus helped you and yet he does nothing to help children that die daily from cancer. You're so special."

      u have no way of knowing what he did for them

      May 30, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  10. Miracle Hunters!!

    Watch as our crew follows the leads from dozens of claims miracles around the world! Our nightvision cameras will give you every gory green detail! Is that real blood dripping from Our Lady of Akita? Does it smell of roses? Are those holes in this mans hands really a stigmata? We'll do the research and give you the goods!! Proof once and for all that miracles are real! Live on nightvision cameras! You'll even hear our hosts breathing heavily and ask several times during each show "Did you hear something?"

    Check your local listings for show times!

    May 30, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  11. mesaecri

    This the proof of the American zealotism. The whole point in democracy is that religion and the state must be divided. I'm personaly not religious but I don't have anything against it. I suggest you should study more history and learn what happened when religion (like christianity) was involved in politics. P.S. this article is a disgrace to journalism anywhere.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      "It's not news. It's CNN."

      May 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Observer

      It's not real, it's Faux News.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • mesaecri

      I detect no inteligent life in the U.S. of A.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  12. Sam Dawkins


    May 30, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Science

      Hey sam morals aye..................that is what religion is lacking – ethics seems to have none !

      old sh-it by the way 2011.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  13. Hilda


    May 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      ALL LOST.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  14. Mohammad Followers Steadily Taking the World Backward

    the worst thing ever happened in human history was middle easterners were exposed to the religions.

    May 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  15. Bob


    May 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Darren

      WL Craig always sounds like one of the Whiners, only in heat.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  16. Science

    Star dust we are.

    Pebbly Rocks Testify to Old Streambed On Mars..........and the asteroid that flattened mars aye chadfie !

    May 30, 2013 — Detailed analysis and review have borne out researchers' initial interpretation of pebble-containing slabs that NASA's Mars rover Curiosity investigated last year: They are part of an ancient streambed.

    More information about Curiosity is online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl , http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

    You can follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .


    May 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  17. TJ

    The U.S. has long since turned to another deity, a much sterner and unforgiving one, the Almighty Dollar.

    May 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • One one

      It's not just the U.S., it's everyone. And it should be no surprise. Money provides basic survival needs. Beyond that, it provides comforts. Beyond that it provides safety and security for you and your family. Beyond that it provides opportunity to go beyond nourishing the body, to pursue curiosity, imagination, experimentation, and education. There is nothing wrong with wanting such things.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Funny, Much sterner?

      I've never had any one say that if I didn't follow their rules the all mighty dollar would burn me in torment for the rest of eternity

      May 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  18. NotSoFast

    That CNN wishes it doesn't make it so.

    May 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      CNN is not an entity you know, right? You're anthropomorphizing—and apparently blindly since Gallup has nothing to do with CNN.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      It's only a poll. Everyone knows that religiion is in decline. It's nothing new.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  19. aiquoy

    Religion should have never had ANY influence on state choices in the first place.

    May 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  20. What does an atheist mean by Impeach God?

    hope in GOD

    May 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      If it is the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent being that christians claim then it is responsible for all the disasters, premature deaths, etc. Maybe it should be examined in that light.

      May 30, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Rumpelstiltskin

      Those atheist imps.

      May 30, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Inline

      more like atheist chimps! after all, aren't they cousins 😉

      May 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Consilience

      You're right. We can't impeach something that doesn't exist. I think it mostly just means we should be a secular country, as that was one of our founding principles.

      May 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • pawky

      Ah, an atheist is now known as a secularist?!? The devil indeed is a sly old fox!

      May 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      pawky: Atheism is defined as the disbelief in god(s). Theist is the belief in god(s). Numerous things come under both; ie-theist can be muslim, christian, jehovah witness, jew.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:34 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.