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. Smartypants

    What's really happening is that we're finally winning the Culture War. The Culture War isn't liberal vs. conservative or anything like that. It's the authoritarian types who have kept control over the other 99% of us by claiming they're supermen, the Chosen of God, or other BS versus those of us who don't want to be somebody else's tool.

    Organized religion is one of the most powerful tools they have in maintaining their psychological control. Thanks to the Internet, they can no longer keep people ignorant; in the Free Market of Ideas, ideologies that rely on ignorance and lies are taking it on the chin. And what makes the Internet so unstoppable is that people are making billions of dollars off of it, so it will never be shut down. Look at the rapid pace of the acceptance of gay marriage, pot legalization, atheism, and multiculturalism in the last couple of decades, and the old Nazi control freaks are really losing badly.

    September 4, 2013 at 2:10 am |
  2. jamison

    :TLTR Unless you’ve been brainwashed how is thinking more scientifically a bad thing? And, without circular∞arguments explain human nature if there is a soul?!(.) L:)L

    August 26, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  3. Engr.Akhtar Ayaz Khan

    Americans are always first intelligent creatures. They`re now truly educated society of the world because religions always apply terror on ignorant and poor masses.

    July 30, 2013 at 5:04 am |
  4. Steve Finnell


    When Christians are ask if they trust God; most would respond in the affirmative. Do Christians really believe God is trustworthy?

    How do Christian respond when asked, do they believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God? For many, the trust, in God starts to wane at this point. An all too common reply, is of course the Bible is God's word, however, the Scriptures were recorded and translated into other languages my mere men. We know men make mistakes.

    What is mystifying to me is how believers in Christ can proclaim that they believe God created the heavens and the earth, but do not believe God has the power to direct men to record and translate His word without error. Would that be a God you could trust?

    Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone , but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" (NASB)

    Jesus said men should live on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. How would that be possible if the Bible is not the infallible word of God?

    1 John 2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.(NASB)

    John said we know Jesus if we keep His commandments. If the Bible is not God's incontrovertible truth, how can we know we are keeping the commandments of Jesus?


    There those who agree that the Bible is the inerrant word of God but then state that you have to be a Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic scholar to understand the meaning of Scripture.

    In order to understand the Bible you have to understand whatever langauge translation you are reading. If English is your first language then you should use an English translation, if German is your primary language then read a German translation, if you are Greek then read a Greek translation etc.

    It is not ironic that they do not believe you have be a Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic scholar to under Joshua 10:13, however, in order to understand Acts 2:38 you have be not only have to be a Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic scholar, but an English professor as well.

    Joshua 10:13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.

    The "scholar police" accept Joshua 10:13 at face value; as well they should.

    The "scholar police" believe you have to be a Greek scholar and an English professor to understand Acts 2:38.
    The "scholar police" have an agenda. There goal is to convince the world that water baptism is not essential to have sins forgiven.

    Acts 2:38 Peter replied "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(The Thompson Chain -Reference Bible NIV)

    You do not have to be a Greek scholar or an English professor to understand what "so that your sins may be forgiven" means.

    Acts 2:38 Peter told them, "you must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus , so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips)

    If you have a fifth grade reading level you are capable of understand the meaning of "so that you may have your sins forgiven."

    Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Let each one of you repent and be immersed, in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The Better Version of The New Testament by Chester Estes)

    "In order to the remission of sins" means the same thing whether you are a Greek scholar, a professor in English or a novice Christian.

    Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NASB)

    It does not matter if you are a Greek scholar, or an English professor; "for the forgiveness or your sins" means exactly what it says.



    You are invited to follow my Christian blog. Google search>>>>>steve finnell a christian view

    July 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  5. National Car Rental

    Hello my friend! I want to say that this article is amazing, great written and come with almost all significant infos. I would like to look more posts like this .

    June 27, 2013 at 5:45 am |
  6. Vivek Vardhan Deevi

    I definitely feel and firmly believe that Christianity should raise back again in America... the World's Largest Christian Nation... Is it not because of God's grace still on America that it stands out and commands respect from the whole world.... even Babylonia was protected by God and given power to conquer Israel, how much more should he be actually loving America and protecting it to save his chosen lot.... America... please turn back to God..... we are safe in him.. outside is the dread world trying to prey ....

    June 18, 2013 at 12:24 am |
    • tallulah13

      Or we could all be adults and take responsibility for our own actions instead of appealing vainly to a supernatural figure for whom there isn't a single shred of evidence. Honestly, why can't you just do things for yourself?

      June 18, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • One one

      "It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so." Robert A. Heinlein

      June 19, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • duranie4ever15

      No we don't need to stay dumb and trust some unknown spirit to guide us. It is 2013 and I think people are realizing that all religions are forms of cult and control and they must all abolish and reality should take over. We know better now and should not believe in the biblical fictional stories.

      July 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  7. tony

    I wonder why an all-powerful god, who loves all his children equally, left telling those outside the middle east, to an inadequate number of missionaries who arrived a coupla thousand years too late in most cases.?

    June 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  8. faith

    u block posts that shame u

    June 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I suspect you're using words that the filter doesn't like.

      June 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  9. faith

    It is inaccurate to claim that one cannot prove the existence of a god.
    The god I've heard about all my life supposedly answers prayers. It supposedly makes things "happen" physically in our home-sweet-home, plane of reality.
    This manipulation of properties in our own universe should be detectable.

    hey Mozart, make up my mind, doofus.

    1. find out b4 saying stuff like the bible supposedly says, u idiot. it will do wonders 4 ur rep as a jerk

    2. look closer. like u no what god is doing in the lives of christians

    3. if u r deluded enough 2 blieve hitler was a christian, u will remain a fool in the eyes of scholars and everyone else who isn't u

    3. god would show some sign through the universe. what a genius. y? the universe and god? please. the universe appeared on march 6 at 7am. what does gawwwwwwwwd have 2 do with it?


    nice try u fat phony piece of garbage

    plenty of brilliant men wrote down exactly what happened when jesus Christ roamed our earth 2,000 years ago. they had no reason 2 lie or distort their message.

    that is called irrefutable evidence


    June 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • faith

      Y am i the only 1 who nos these things and who destroys every filthy argument the nazis conjure up?

      come on brethren

      June 13, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
      • Rascal262

        The men who wrote the bible did not write down exactly what happened, how could they? They weren't born until decades after Jesus died. They wrote down the stories that had been passed on orally from person to person. And they each did what all authors of "divinely inspired" holy books do - they added their own fanciful imaginings to enhance the glory of Christ.
        Have you ever played the Telephone Game? That's what happened to the bible.

        November 26, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      faith. You cannot prove your god and you cannot disprove any of the thousands of other gods. The gospels that were included in the bible were not contemporaneous and not all gospels were included so no it wasn't recorded accurately. Reasons to lie? In case you hadn't noticed churches are some of the richest institutions on earth and for centuries religions were very powerful, typically a symbiotic relationship with monarchy. Money and power are pretty powerful incentives.

      June 13, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
      • jamison

        Science⚛➬smart enough to not need ∞ answers.


        August 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  10. Goog

    Da Internet is a powerful source for da information–CNN posts– we google–dats how we get de information–google southern baptists–uncle Tom is southern baptist–aunty Jane is a nun

    June 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Goog

      grand daddy Pete is a Lutheran No Mormons in the family as yet cousin Mormon will show at the right time when the Mormon article shows up

      June 13, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  11. Jomo Kenyatta

    My grandparents were Southern Baptists who hated Jews, Blacks, the people that attended the church across the street from theirs, anyone who wasn't white or thought differently from them. They are dead now and their leaving this world made it a better place. Since The Beginning, religion in any of its pathetic forms has been a divisive impediment to the progress of our species. History has proven that stupid ideas fall by the wayside and this article makes it clear that religion is on its way out. Live long and prosper.

    June 13, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  12. TBentz

    It's all about this:

    And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment
    If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved
    Get a Bible. Start at Matthew. Find out for yourself…

    June 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  13. Paul

    The religion that Jesus Christ founded was not only the truth but is reasonable and logical, unlike Christendom, which has zero logic. Just believing without being able to explain is blind faith.

    June 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • faith

      u mean like the dude who died next 2 jesus who got religion as he died??

      June 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  14. Patty Ray

    Call 931-432-4111 for a unforgettable night of passion

    June 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  15. alex

    Salero21, using your language, here's what should be said: It was some stupid human who made up a stupid creation and wrote the stupid old book. But I am not going to say that.

    June 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  16. faith

    atheism is the only religion

    June 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • jamison

      Be more agnostic for it's definitions will change... just read every Science\religious\* book ever written to see "truth"!

      And, quit trying to look big down here; the views nicer on top of the bridge. 😉

      August 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  17. Felix Sinclair

    If everything needs a creator, then who created the creator, and so on, etc.

    June 12, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • alex

      Human created the creator and wrote the old book.

      June 13, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • Salero21

      More proof that atheism is stupidity in Full bloom. 🙂

      June 13, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • faith


      June 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  18. Rob

    Know one would question that a home has a builder. You may not know the designer/builder, but you're certainly not going to argue that there was none.
    Look at the way a house it constructed, temperature control, water, lighting, waste management, just to mention a few.
    If we look at the way the earth's setup. Is it not the same on a greater scale?
    It has temperature control, lighting, waste management all in just the right amounts to sustain an earth teaming with life. Now you may not know the designer/builder, yet to say that there is none defies logic.
    Or as Hebrews 3:4 says “Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God”

    June 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Yawn

      How many times are you going to post this crap using multiple handles, are you really this dense.

      June 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The problem is that you are looking at things backwards. We are not fortunate to happen to have a planet that suits us perfectly. Rather the details of our physical nature exist as a product of the environment. Some conditions are required for any life, but once you happen to get those basic conditions met the life adapts to the environment, not the other way around. The environment could be vastly different, and as a result so would we be.

      People often have the same confusion in talking about society. You'll hear people say how fortunate we are that we have the wide variety of people needed to fit all the different types of jobs. In fact it's the other way around. The jobs we have and their distribution are largely a product of what our current humans are like and what they are capable of and willing to tolerate as careers.

      There may well be gods out there, but you'd do better looking at theoretical physics, psychology or philosophy as tools to construct you argument. The biology and geology fields are on pretty solid and well establish ground as far as the ability to get from planetary creation to where we are now without intervention.

      June 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • alex

      Pubic schools ban books of intelligent design because those books corrupted young mind.

      June 13, 2013 at 2:43 am |
      • jamison

        And, vice versa try learning Science in their cults: http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s09e14-bloody-mary

        August 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • alex

      Must watch video - Google search "PBS intelligent design" and click the link with the video.

      June 13, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Science

      ID was debunked long ago !!!

      Hey bible thumpers/creationists and the ICR........Discovery Insti-tute and the RCC................to much BS flying around.

      the god(s) that created US................the truth.

      Destiny & DNA......................World Science Festival


      High Diversity of Flying Reptiles in England 110 Million Years Ago

      June 12, 2013 — Brazilian paleontologists Taissa Rodrigues, of the Federal University of Espirito Santo, and Alexander W. A. Kellner, of the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, have just presented the most extensive review yet available of toothed pterosaurs from the Cretaceous of England. The study features detailed taxonomic information, diagnoses and photographs of 30 species and was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.


      Three-Billion-Year-Old Microfossils Include Plankton

      June 6, 2013 — Spindle-shaped inclusions in three-billion-year-old rocks are microfossils of plankton that probably inhabited the oceans around the globe during that time, according to an international team of researchers.


      June 13, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Science

      Oops that did NOT create US

      June 13, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Rob


      Occam's razor states and I quote “that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”
      I believe that, once one researches both hypotheses thoroughly, the one with the fewest assumptions would be awarded to the Intelligent Design position.

      June 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • jamison

        The one with least ability to test? No. You believe because (humans\earth will die, yikes I know and) you were taught to believe simple as that...

        "unimaginable tracts of time is the key" all earths history, hypothetically, in one hour the fist 50mins are mostly microbes\single-celled-organisms then animal life appearing in the last 10mins finally all of human-kind the last 100th of a second... So, in my opinion you'd have to be god to say Evolution doesn't exist.

        P.s: gods are books and humans only(.)

        August 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • jamison

          Edit: P.s: gods are in books and humans only(period) 😉

          August 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • David

      "I believe that, once one researches both hypotheses thoroughly, the one with the fewest assumptions would be awarded to the Intelligent Design position."

      So the fewest assumptions is the one that concludes there is an all powerful, all knowing prime mover that has no beginging and no end and breaks every universal law that mankind has ever discovered. You cannot claim that because your assumption can be summed up into one short sentance "God did it" that it has fewer assumptions than any other competing theory. Atheists can also just say "Big Bang did it" and have made the exact same assumption the believer made by basically ignoring all the other assumptions and leaps of faith and logic one must make to get there. If you do still believe that the God theory is supported by Occams razor then you are a moron.

      June 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Rob


      Ah, the ad hominem attack, favorite weapon of those with no better argument.

      June 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  19. Seek the Giver of life before you face the reality of death

    It's ironic that scientist, atheist, nor anyone else can provide that smallest piece of evidence PROVING the non-existence of an intelligent Creator. By definition making them people of great faith. Yet they boast around blinded by the pride of their foolishness thinking themselves wise. They say Christians believe in an imaginary fairytale, yet all of their changing theories came from the thoughts and imagination of limited minds. On the contrary Christians embrace the evidence of creation which shows intelligent design. Proving its origin being from a mere coincidence impossible, and clearly pointing to the incomprehensible genius of an Immortal Creator. Q:If life was not created by an intelligent Creator, why are the smartest among the geniuses of the world finding it impossible to figure out the origin of life? If you are open minded to learning visit www . theeternalwisdom . com Trusting in finite minds to figure out infinite things is more senseless than a blind mind chasing the wind. P.S. I'm speaking of a Creator not a specific God...

    June 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Yawn

      How many times are you going to post this garbage. This has been disputed, and you've been proven wrong. Stop posting this crap.

      June 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Smartypants

      God doesn't exist because Harvey the Invisible Rabbit says that God doesn't exist, and Harvey is always infallibly right. Now YOU have to prove that Harvey doesn't exist and if you don't, that means your God doesn't exist.


      September 4, 2013 at 2:01 am |
  20. Salero21

    Hello there foolish atheists! Just to remind you all of the total stupidity that is atheism. Atheism is stupidity in Full bloom. God willing I'll be back tomorrow to remind you. 😀

    June 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Really?

      "Just to remind you all of the total stupidity that is atheism. Atheism is stupidity in Full bloom."

      That's why the data has shown that atheists live happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. It's also why countries that are becoming less religious are also showing the people are happier, healthier and smarter than countries that are super religious

      June 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • alex

      Thanks to christians like you, Atheists' population is on the rise rapidly. I am not one yet, but Atheism makes a lot of sense, and I may soon join them.

      June 13, 2013 at 2:54 am |
      • jamison

        i like agnostic seems more scientific

        August 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Salero21

      😀 😀 You two are a clear example of how stupid atheism is.

      June 13, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • jamison

        this bridge has a better view on top 😉

        August 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • alex

      Salero21, you are a clear example of why Atheism is on the rise.

      June 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • Smartypants

      Thank you for the childish insult. It'll just make me tell Jeebus to go to Hell with even more relish than normal.

      September 4, 2013 at 2:03 am |
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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.