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
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

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. TheTruth

    “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that's my religion.”

    ― Abraham Lincoln

    May 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini, D.D. ©™

    As a device for focusing and self-hypnosis for relaxation, religious images are useful as long as the user of religious images realises that the images are not true.

    May 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • jim

      believing what you believe in is not true? that really makes sense.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • HRPuffnStuff

      >Hey Joey, why didn't you bring anyone else with you?
      >Visits from the This Just In blog and doesn't bring anyone along to the Belief Blog party= Joey is teh fail.
      >Anything goes here, you do not have to talk about religion or anything, okay?

      May 31, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  3. Mema

    I am reading a lot of brave souls who seem to think they/we do not need religion, anymore, but I tell you the first tragedy that hits them or their families on their knees you will find them, be it church or in the back yard praying to God. We may not always agree with religious dogma but I believe we all have God in our Souls...amen

    May 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      A person can have faith in God without going to church or following an organize religion. Going to church no more makes you a Christian than sleeping in a garage makes you a car.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      That is ridiculous and insulting. It's like saying you will suddenly realise there is no god when a crisis arises.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Doobs

      I am reading a lot of brave souls who seem to think they/we do not need religion, anymore, but I tell you the first tragedy that hits them or their families on their knees you will find them, be it church or in the back yard praying to God.

      You can tell nothing of the kind. You don't know any of us or what we've been through in life.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Clover

      " but I tell you the first tragedy that hits them or their families on their knees you will find them, be it church or in the back yard praying to God."

      That, in fact, does not happen. Wow, you *do* have a rich fantasy life, don't you.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Some yes, some no. All of us have tragedy in our lives and yet millions still die as atheists. I don't disagree that some need religion to get through these times, but that all do is a great over generalization.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  4. brown!

    Maybe it's because of what most of us have always suspected ... the Church is CORRUPT!

    May 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Alias

      Next you'll tell us they play with children too.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:27 pm |

    you are all CNN belief bloggers cordially invited to have dinner with our family tonight, hindus must not try.

    May 30, 2013 at 9:44 pm |

      and don't forget to bring cameras with you to take pictures my son Mohammad, oooohh he is soooo cute

      May 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm |

      Party of hindu atheist, ignorant secular by nature and their hindu ignorant counter part, man kind from hindered gutter of hindu atheism, filthy secular ism by faith from india.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

      Party of hindu secular s, ignorant self centered by nature.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:08 pm |

    Meet hindu swami s, crook goon man gods of hinduism, racism. india, home of hinduism racism.


    May 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  7. faith

    the brain
    flesh and blood and cells and neurons
    juggle for cortical tissue
    george 5/1/5527 calendar calculator savant
    and u tell me over and over again my friend
    u don't believe
    we're on the eve of destruction

    May 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  8. mykel armory

    valwayne, do you need a band aid for your sore little butt? If your piece of excrement god is so powerful, why can't he save his own faith? I guess Obama is way more powerful than your god.

    May 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      I'm guessing that you are an ugly little Git who lives alone in a trailer ; has no girlfriend because he has nothing to offer; lives of Obama's freebies and has bad breath. Why wouldn't you sing Obama's praises – you leech off him . Watching him lie on TV is all the company you have. lol What a looooooser!

      May 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • The real Tom

      HAR, you're quite the big, tough guy, aren't you? Too bad you come off as a buffoon. I'm a Democrat and I voted for Obama twice. I don't get any government aid, I work and pay taxes, probably more than you do, and I don't live in some trailer. I also don't agree with Obama on everything, but I notice that the stock market is up, unemployment is falling, housing prices are increasing, and consumer confidence is rising.

      Methinks you're still sore because you idol lost the election, but honey, that was 7 months ago. Time to move on, dear.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • snopes says

      HeroesAre Rare is a sore loser

      May 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  9. valwayne

    The poll is right. Obama and the democrat are openly at war with Christianity, and the Catholic Church in particular. They clearly want to use the massive power of Government to drive both out of public site and back into the catacombs. Obama may well be the most anti-religious President in all of U.S. history. Its not surprising that a President like Obama has now been caught red handed abusing the power of the IRS and the Justice dept to damage and intimidate his political enemies, as well as the Press. When we watched all the delegates at the Democrat Convention last year vote against God and Israel 3 times last year, and the Boo both of them it was clear that the democrat party led by Obama is now the atheistic anti-Christian party of America! Obama has plunged our nation into a terrible economic, military, and spiritual decline!

    May 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • oOo

      You're nutso. Consider this:

      As Deist Christians, the first five presidents including John Adams, James Madison & Thomas Jefferson were likely to have quite a different notion of God than the Christian God of today. Deist Christians may have followed Christ's teachings, but usually refuted the divinity of Christ. They were always ready to call out on the dark side of organized religion:

      I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history. "

      (John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816)

      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)

      Obviously Deism played an important part in the lives of the key framers who wrote the Constitution and its initial set of Amendments that we live by in the U.S.

      During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

      (James Madison, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & Bill of Rights – from A Memorial and Remonstrance as delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785.)

      John Quincy Adams swore on a book of law.

      John Tyler, the 10th POTUS was a Deist Christian.

      Many believe Abraham Lincoln was a Deist.
      John Remsburg, in his book Six Historic Americans (1906), cites several of Lincoln's close associates:

      After his assassination Mrs. Lincoln said: "Mr. Lincoln had no hope and no faith in the usual acceptance of these words." His lifelong friend and executor, Judge David Davis, affirmed the same: "He had no faith in the Christian sense of the term." His biographer, Colonel Lamon, intimately acquainted with him in Illinois, and with him during all the years that he lived in Washington, says: "Never in all that time did he let fall from his lips or his pen an expression which remotely implied the slightest faith in Jesus as the son of God and the Savior of men."

      Theodore Roosevelt did not take the oath of office on a Bible in 1901.

      William Howard Taft, the only U.S. President to also hold the office of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court:

      I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.


      The Deistic side of John Adams comes out strong in these paragraphs A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-1788)

      The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

      Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Observer


      "Obama and the democrat are openly at war with Christianity, and the Catholic Church in particular. " False. Guess again.

      "Obama has now been caught red handed abusing the power of the IRS". False. Guess again.

      "Obama has plunged our nation into a terrible economic, military, and spiritual decline!" False. Guess again. The stock market hits new all-time highs almost every day now after Bush left the stock market PLUMMETING.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • mykel armory

      valwayne, do you need a band aid for your sore little butt? If your piece of excrement god is so powerful, why can't he save his own faith? I guess Obama is way more powerful than your god.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      oOo –
      America was FOUNDED on hatred of the Catholic Church. The Puritans that left England to escape " persecution and harsh treatment by the Catholic King went to America – the New World. They then systematically persecuted and treated ant DISSENTERS just as badly --no, WORSE.

      They pilloried starving people for theft; branded fornicators and adulterers with red hot irons; they exiled dissenters into the wilderness to die! FAR worse things than any Catholic did!!!! They forced people into church 3 TIMES every Sunday – on pain of public humiliation and punishment if they missed. The Puritan women were slaves to their husbands. And NO-ONE was allowed to sing, dance or laugh under pain of SIN.

      Did you flunk history? Catholics were saints compared to the early Americans! Muppet.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Dakota

      Yeah because getting rid of religion is so horrible(sarcasm). Quit being so idiotic.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      WELL SAID Valwayne. And so true.

      Talking to thick, dimwitted liberals is like wading through molasses wearing flip-flops!
      They either cut and paste stuff that they think "MIGHT" look clever but always choose the wrong parts. Either that or they show their lack of education by not being able to string a sentence together without filth, blasphemy and juvenile comments.

      I blame the failed American education system for the liberals' stupidity. After all they didn't only elect a failure – they went back and re-elected him! How senseless was that? LOL

      May 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      HAR. Which King of England are you saying was a catholic?

      May 30, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • Science

      Hey HeroesAre Rare..............GO POIUND FVCKING SAND !


      Hey HeroesAre Rare..............deleting more comments aye?

      Oh! by the way –
      Sam stone, Science and the Doc all of whom think they're pretty sharp............ I've said what I have to say and I will NOT respond to ANY of your juvenile attempts to argue. Got it!

      May 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply

      May 24, 2013 at 7:09 am | Report abuse | Reply


      HerosAre Rare , faith the peach and chadie too you are so full of IT...............link below if you need help !



      May 24, 2013 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |


      HerosAre Rare...........urls got you science !

      May 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |



      May 23, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |



      May 24, 2013 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |


      Hey Chadie

      So solution for the sign being wrong in picture above..................is NOT to teach children the fairy in the sky created US.

      Easy DNA swap will tell you your family tree !


      May 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Paranoid much? Get over the fact that there's a black man in the White House!

      May 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • oOo

      HAR – my post was in response to valwayne's claim that "Obama may well be the most anti-religious President in all of U.S. history". Clearly not by a long shot. Perhaps you're the one who flunked history. valwayne mentioned anti-religious President – my reply covers the period of time of American Presidents, not the Puritans. And which Catholic King are you speaking of anyway??

      May 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      In Santa we trust – Charles I.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • oOo

      Let me guess, HAR is one of these people who thinks the Mayflower Compact has more of a bearing on our laws today than the Constitiution.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • KJV John 3:16

      Agree 100%. You are absolutely correct. Poll–"America losing its religion"–
      "Its religion" as in Christianity.
      We Christians are losing our freedom to stand by our morals. And express them.
      This country is going down because the 'majority' and the elected leaders are becoming warped by the anti-Christ.
      God the father who sent his son, Jesus Christ will not have this USA's back if we cut ties with him and Israel. Prophesies and signs will unfold.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • oOo

      Try and stay on topic, next time, HAR – presidents. Not pilgrims.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Please enumerate the "freedoms" Christians have lost.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • oOo

      Of course Charles I was not Catholic, but he may as well have been – it was enough close enough to piss everyone off. But way to miss the topic of presidents by more than 100 years, HAR.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
  10. faith

    I know you're asking me to stay
    Say please, please, please don't go away
    You say I'm giving you the blues
    You mean every word you say
    Can't help but think of yesterday
    And another who tied me down to loverboy rules

    Cuz I gotta have faith
    Mmm I gotta have faith
    Because I got to have faith-a-faith-a-faith
    I gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith

    May 30, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  11. faith

    mykel armory
    No. Jesus was neither born, nor created. Rather, he was defecated onto the Earth. Rome flushed him, after a manner.


    May 30, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • faith

      and we will bring down this garbage dump

      May 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • faith

      "mykel armory
      Christians make great lion chow"

      thanks all nazi god-hating fascist pigs. i am humbled and grateful for the fact that u r helpless to dismiss or ignore the profound impact i exert on each of you. u ain't seen nothin

      May 30, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • mykel armory

      I stand by every word of it. Last I checked, the nazis were christian.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • faith

      lil fatty sambo
      valwayne, do you need a band aid for your sore little butt? If your piece of excrement god is so powerful

      kinda getting the message about this black mamba? lol

      May 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Observer

      Speaking of a real Nazi (not faith's imaginary Nazis):

      “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lords work.”
      - Adolph Hitler, 1936, Reichstag, Berlin

      “May God Almighty give our work His blessing, strengthen our purpose, and endow us with wisdom and the trust of our people, for we are fighting not for ourselves but for Germany.”
      - Adolph Hitler, 02/01/1933

      May 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  12. mykel armory

    Christians make great lion chow.

    May 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  13. NavinJay

    All religions eventually die. In 5000 years no one, except historians, will know what Christianity was or who Christ was. As it should.

    May 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      The Catholic Faith will not die off. Jesus Himself said that "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

      That quote was written by one of the 4 EYEWITNESSES who wrote the New Testament.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ HAR

      Bullshit. You don't know who wrote the gospels, much less whether they were eyewitnesses to anything Jeebus supposedly said.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • humanbean

      Ha ha ha! Are you high or something? There were no eyewitnesses of Christ who actually contributed to the bible. Ignorance is such bliss among the sheep.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • eyewitnesses - LOL


      May 30, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  14. Matt

    So 3 in 4 say we're not religious enough and that they think that's a bad thing and CNN concludes we're losing religion??

    May 30, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      Good old CNN. They're running true to form!
      As an old Irish teacher used to say "What do you expect from a pig but a grunt!"

      May 30, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'm sure at least 3 in four think it would be a good thing if Americans would eat less and get thinner, but that doesn't change the reaity that we are putting on weight and that most people would rightly say we're getting fatter.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  15. Ord_Miller

    Old graveyards have entire children's sections. Before antibiotics and immunizations a woman could expect to lose half of her children before they reached maturity. The belief in an afterlife was necessary to keep the repeated sorrows of losing children from turning into madness. Nowadays. not so much.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  16. GOOD BOY

    I become a criminal

    May 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  17. PDXSerric

    I think this poll is misleading. Americans aren't losing their religion – they are simply turning away from the church. Yes atheism and agnosticism are on the rise but there are a large number of people who still believe in the teachings of religion without subscribing to any particular denomination or faith. Religion has always been a dangerous two-edged sword. on one hand it does encourage good deeds and acts. On the other hand it is too easily perverted for personal gain of wealth and power.

    The days of the all-powerful church are ending. However, faith shall remain for those who choose to be faithful. I see this is a great enlightenment.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Very well said, and I couldn't agree more!

      May 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  18. Ben

    thank god religion is on the decline

    May 30, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Spike

      Don't take this the wrong way, but I was blind and ignorant for many years before I finally "got it". You have to be less self-important, drop your selfish pride and give your heart to Jesus. He is the truth, the way, and the life.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Austin

      and the Word.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Athy

      And the silliness.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Spike

      To Athy:
      As I said...selfish pride. I was blind and ignorant like you...

      May 30, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • mykel armory

      Spike, you still are blind and ignorant, and I am sure you weren't much better as an atheist. Obviously you were a pretty stupid atheist because now you're stupid christian. Some people will be morons no matter what religious affiliation they wear, and you, sir, were born dumb and will die dumb.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Athy

      I don't consider myself blind or ignorant. 20/20 vision (corrected), last tested IQ of 165..

      May 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Alec

      I gave my heart to Jesus once, we ran away to Mexica for the summer. Sadly it only lasted for the summer

      May 30, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  19. soliman

    funny Detroit white man wanted to blow up a mosque using 500+ explosive devices. was caught by authorities. Why isn't this on CNN?

    May 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  20. faith

    typical nazi, judging u on ur outsides and overlooking ur insides

    May 30, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • faith

      "What kind of sign they need when it all came from within/ When what’s lost has been found, what’s to come has already been?”

      who wrote that? it was some jewish prophet, i think

      May 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Scirence

      As mama k says.................. is it popcorn time................. faith ?

      May 30, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • faith

      Well I'm pressing on
      Yes, I'm pressing on
      Well I'm pressing on
      To the higher calling of my Lord

      Many try to stop me, shake me up in my mind
      Say, "Prove to me that He is Lord, show me a sign"
      What kind of sign they need when it all come from within
      When what's lost has been found, what's to come has already been?

      Well I'm pressing on
      Yes, I'm pressing on
      Well I'm pressing on
      To the higher calling of my Lord

      Shake the dust off of your feet, don't look back
      Nothing now can hold you down, nothing that you lack
      Temptation's not an easy thing, Adam given the devil reign
      Because he sinned I got no choice, it run in my vein

      Well I'm pressing on
      Yes, I'm pressing on
      Well I'm pressing on
      To the higher calling of my Lord

      You know the adversary never sleeps – he is a roaring beast.
      He always comes at the time that you expect him least.
      And you know that he's responsible for death and pain and loss,
      But we know we'll overcome him by the victory at the cross.

      o, u mean the guy with all the questions who now has all the answers? dag. what twere his name?

      May 30, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Science

      No but I think I figured out why the chondrites have opposing polls............works for me.

      has to do with quantum mechanics .!

      May 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • faith

      DYLAN: I feel a heartfelt God. I don't particularly think that God wants me thinking about Him all the time. I think that would be a tremendous burden on Him, you know. He's got enough people asking Him for favors. He's got enough people asking Him to pull strings. I'll pull my own strings, you know. I remember seeing a Time magazine on an airplane a few years back and it had a big cover headline, "IS COD DEAD?" I mean, that was-would you think that was a responsible thing to do? What does God think of that? I mean, if you were God, how would you like to see that written about yourself? You know, I think the country's gone downhill since that day.

      May 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Science

      hey faith but the fairy in the sky never flew above. !

      May 30, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • eb1966

      @faith I hope cod is dead, I'd hate to have to eat live cod.

      May 30, 2013 at 9:21 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.