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Polls Show Christianity Declining, "Nones" Rising

Updated on February 25, 2017
CatherineGiordano profile image

Catherine Giordano is the author of a book of essays and her poems, essays, and short fiction have appeared in magazines and anthologies.

Trends in Religious Identity

The Pew Center for Research shows that Christianity is declining, while the "nones"--people with no religious affiliation--is rising.
The Pew Center for Research shows that Christianity is declining, while the "nones"--people with no religious affiliation--is rising. | Source

Every seven years the Pew Research Center conducts a massive study about religion called “The Religious Landscape Study.” The 2014 Study shows some surprising changes in religion in the United States.

What Does the Pew Survey Tell Us About the Incidence of Various Religions in the United States?

It comes as no surprise that America is overwhelmingly Christian. About seven in ten Americans are Christian.

The big surprise is that in a country that is seen as so religious, almost a fourth of Americans report having no religion.

Incidence of Various Religions in the United States in 2014

Relgiion
Percent of Population
Christian
71%
Jewish
2%
Muslim
1%
Other
3%
Nones
23%

On March 24, 2015, CNN aired a documentary, Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers. The special began with the narrator saying: “One nation, under God. It’s who we are and religion is what we do.”

Apparently she was wrong. Religion is not what America does; at least, not what all of America does. A substantial proportion of Americans—nearly one fourth--are not affiliated with any religious group. (We’ll look at this in more detail below.)

What Does the Pew Survey Tell Us about Christianity?

Christianity has always been the predominant religion in America. However, Christianity is not as popular as it once was. The proportion of Americans who self-identify as Christian is currently 71%. Seven years ago, it was 78%.

The largest branch of Christianity is “Evangelical Protestants.” About 25% of the United States population is in this group. Catholics account for 21% of the population, and Mainline Protestants account for 15%.

Comparing 2007 to 2014 shows that the Catholics and the Mainline Protestants have lost share and Evangelical Protestants have made a small gain in share.

Christianity Trends

 
2007
2014
Change
Christian
78%
71%
-7
Evangelical Protestant
25%
26%
+1
Catholic
24%
21%
-3
Mainline Protestant
18%
15%
-3
Other Christian
11%
9%
-2

The reason that Evangelical Protestants are gaining share while other Christian groups are losing adherents is that more people are switching to evangelical faiths from Mainline Protestant and Catholic churches than vice-versa. Thus, Evangelicals gained despite the overall decline in Christianity.

Who Are the "Nones"?

The non-religious are more likely to be male, young, better educated and higher income. They are more likely to live in the western United States.
The non-religious are more likely to be male, young, better educated and higher income. They are more likely to live in the western United States. | Source

What Does the Pew Survey Tell Us about the Religion-less or “Nones”?

The Pew Research Center uses a shorthand term for the religiously unaffiliated--atheists, agnostics, and people who say their religion is “nothing in particular"—they are lumped together as “Nones.” This group has undergone huge growth since the last survey. In 2007, they were 16% of the U.S. population. In the 2014 survey, they are 23% of the population. It is a whooping 44% increase.

About one in five (18%) of Americans say they were raised in a faith, but now they are a “None.” (There is some movement in the other direction, but it is smaller--4% of Americans who were not raised in any faith joined a faith tradition as an adult. Thus for every one person who comes to faith as an adult, about four people leave their religion.)

There is an increase in share for the “Nones” among both men and women, but men are more likely to be in the “None” category than women. Among men, 27% are “Nones”; among women 19% are “Nones.”

Young people are also more likely to be in the “Nones” category, although the proportion of “Nones” is high among all age groups. Among the youngest age group, the Millennials, over a third--35%-- are classified as “Nones.”

Incidence of "Nones" by Age

Generation
Date of Birth
Age Range
2007
2014
Difference
Millennials
1981-1996
18-33
25%
35%
+9
Generation X
1965-1980
34-49
17%-
23%
+4
Baby Boomers
1946-1964
50-68
14%
17%
+3
Silent Generation
1928-1945
69-86
9%
11%
+2

The Pew Research Center reports that the growth of the “Nones” is seen among all demographic categories—among men and women, across all racial and ethnic groups, among people with all levels of education and income, among immigrants and the native-born, and throughout all regions of the country, even in the Bible Belt.

The proportion of “Nones” in the United States is likely to continue to rise. First, because there is a clear trend in the direction of no religion among all age and demographic groups. Second, because of generational replacement—the older generation which is more likely to be religious dies off and is replaced by the younger generation which is less likely to be religious.

We also need to consider the “tipping point.” In 2002, Malcom Gladwell published a book titled The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. He demonstrated how an idea, trend, or social behavior makes small gains over time until it crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.

I suspect the “atheist” category is undercounted. There is such a stigma attached to atheism that many people who actually have no belief in God prefer to call themselves agnostic or “not religious.” Consequently, when the acceptance of atheism becomes more widespread, it will fuel an increase in the number of people willing to call themselves “atheist.”

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

This book has changed the way I look at the world. now, I am always looking for the tipping point. I think a major tipping point is coming with religion.

 

What Does the Pew Survey Tell Us about Godless Americans?

I find the category of “Nones” to be a little misleading. It includes all people with no religious affiliation, but not everyone in this group has actually rejected religion. About 7% of the U.S. population don’t belong to any particular religion, but do feel that religion is important.

Consequently, I created a category of “Godless Americans” --people that call themselves atheist, agnostic, or who say they are irreligious because religion is not important to them.

“Godless Americans” increased from 10% of the total U.S. population to in 2007 to 16% in 2014. That is a fairly large minority group--equal to the proportion of other minority groups in the United States like African- Americans (15%) and Hispanics (16%).

What Does the Pew Survey Tell Us about Atheists/Agnostics?

The atheist/agnostic group differs from all Americans in several ways. They are more likely to be male, more likely to be young, more likely to be white, more likely to have a college education, and more likely to have a household income over $100,000. They are most likely to live in the West and least likely to live in the South.

Demographics of Atheists/Agnostics in the U.S. in 2014

 
Total U. S. Population
Atheist/Agnostic
Difference
Male
48%
57%
+ 9
Aged 18 to 29
20%
31%
+11
White
66%
82%
+16
College degree
19%
25%
+ 6
$100,000+
17%
22%
+ 5
Region
 
 
 
Northeast
18%
21%
+ 3
Mid-West
22%
22%
0
South
37%
30%
- 7
West
23%
28%
+ 5

Be careful when you read statistics. I saw one article where the author tried to claim that the atheists/agnostics were uneducated because only 25% had a college education. That is true, but what the author was too stupid to see, or was hoping his readers would be too stupid to see is, the population as a whole and the adherents of various religions are even more likely to lack a college degree.

What are the Statistics about Religion Around the World?

The Win-Gallup International poll is a worldwide poll of religiosity. The question asked was ”Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?”

Worldwide, 59% are religious, 23% are not religious, and 13% are atheist. The trend has been towards non-religious. In 2012, 68% said they were religious compared to 77% who said they were religious in 2005. The proportion who were convinced atheists was also higher in 2012 vs. 2005 -- 7% up from 4%.

In the United States, 60% said they were religious in 2012 down from 73% in 2005.The proportion who said they were a convinced atheist went up from 2005 compared to 2012 –1% vs. 5%.

Here is the breakout for some of the major countries of the world, from most religious to least religious.

Incidence of Religiosity in Various Countries in 2012

 
Religious
Not Religious
Convinced Atheist
Don't Know
Global
59%
23%
13%
5%
Ghana
96%
2%
0
1%
United States
60%
30%
5%
5%
Russia
55%
26%
6%
13%
Germany
51%
33%
15%
2%
Canada
46%
40%
9%
5%
France
37%
34%
29%
1%
Australia
37%
48%
10%
5%
China
14%
30%
47%
9%
England is not shown because it was not included in the data. Ghana is shown because it has the highest rate of religiosity. Numbers may not add to 100% due to rounding.

The data also showed some interesting correlations with demographic characteristics. Within each country, the religiosity score was consistently higher among the less educated and the poorer people of each country.

2014 Data for UK

The 2014 Win/Gallup Poll showed 30% of UK citizens said they were religious, 53% said not religious and 13% said they were a convinced atheist. This indicates that the UK is one of the least religious countries in the world.

The Future of Religion

Christianity is now the largest religion in the world; by 2050, Islam will have caught up.
Christianity is now the largest religion in the world; by 2050, Islam will have caught up. | Source

What are Predictions for the Future of Religion Worldwide?

Then Pew Research Center has made some projections about the future of worldwide religiosity in their report, The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050. They looked at current levels of religiosity and made projections based on migration patterns, demographic data, and the patterns of switching faiths among various populations.

Christianity is the largest religion in the world, but Islam is the fastest growing religion. By 2050, the number of Muslims will almost equal the number of Christians. Because of slower population growth in Western nations where atheism is increasing, the larger growth rate in Muslim countries will reduce the proportion of “Nones” worldwide.

The table below shows the proportions of each religion in 2010 and the projections for 2050. Of course, over the next 35 years demographic trends could change resulting in inaccuracies in these projections.

Incidence of Various Religions Worldwide

 
2010
2050
Christians
31%
31%
Muslims
23%
30%
Nones
16%
13%
Hindu
15%
13%
Buddhists
7%
5%
Folk Religions
6%
5%
Jews
0.2%
0.2%
Other
0.8%
0.7%

How Do You Feel about the Findings of These Polls?

Is this good news or bad news? It all depends on your point of view about religion in general and religions in particular.

Sources

Pew Religious Landscape Study About 35,000 interviews were conducted between June 1 and September 30 of 2014. The results were compared to the study conducted in 2007.

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010 to 2050

Win-Gallup Global Index of Religiosity an Atheism The study was conducted in 2012 among 50,000 people in 57 countries.

Take part in the survey.

How would you have answered the WIN-Gallup survey?

See results

An Interview on PBS about the Pew Survey of Religion

© 2015 Catherine Giordano

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    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Very impressive presentation of the research on this topic, Catherine. Your statistics are thorough. When I heard this on the news, I was surprised. I guess it's in trend with why less people actually go to church or practice a certain religion, even when they say they believe in God. I think if people are less active, they will probably decline in their beliefs. This research obviously shows it to be true of Christians. I remember after 9/11, religious beliefs and active participation in religion increased. Maybe now it's leveling off. Excellent presentation, thanks for summarizing the issues in a nice package. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Interesting stats, however, I would take the Pew projections with a grain of salt. When ever you read "if current trends continue..." especially to the year 2050. Case in point, if the study was taken right after 9/11 as mentioned by janshares, I wonder what results will look like.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I think what the 'nones' need now is a secular leader. If they group together like a political party or a recognized group or even a football team, once a true Agnostic, charismatic leader is 'discovered', the people will fall all over themselves to join the 'club'.

      Once it becomes fashionable to be agnostic, the people will get behind it. At the very least, atheism will cease to be so 'hated'.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Jackclee Im: I do state that projections are not always accurate because trends may not continue. So a particular statistic might actually increase or decrease more than is projected.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Austinstar: Have yu heard the expression "herding cats"? Nones don't like groups. That is why many of them are nones in the first place. Also the Libertarians are right wing and the humanists are left wing. But I am hoping that there will be less social stigma to being atheist/agnostic and that more non-believers will "come out of the closet" as it becomes more socially acceptable to be a none. Demographics favor an increase. And there is also the tipping point I wrote about in the hub. Thanks for your comment.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 2 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Great, insightful articles. I read about the Nones a decade ago. More Nones are coming out because there is more acceptance of those who don't adhere to traditional, organized religion. In early decades, there were Nones but because of the general nonacceptance of those who differ religiously, spiritual, and/or ethical from the religious mainstream, many Nones indicated their nominal religion. But thankfully such is in the past. Hopefully, America will have None politicians. Nones are not monolithic in scope, many believe in God while others are Atheists or Agnostics and others have their own individualist belief system.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      It seems like there is increased polarization. At the same time there are more "Nones" the size of Evangelicals are holding their ground/marginally increasing. It seems to be widely reflected in US politics. Great hub!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 2 years ago from Bend, OR

      In religion, sexuality, and even race, I see young people rejecting labels. When growing up, our family labeled itself as Catholic and that label gave us a sense of identity, belonging, and, yes, superiority. That label made us feel special. It still does for my 77-year-old mother. For my siblings and me, the label lost its "specialness" during the priest pedophile situations that hit way too close to home. I now no longer have any desire to be affiliated with a religion. I loved the information, Catherine. Voted up.

    • profile image

      Stargrrl 2 years ago

      Interesting article. It is believable that Muslim population is growing. These statistics only show further proof that we are living in the end times! Perhaps Astar has made a point-- a leader will rise up to lead everyone, and almost everyone will be lining up to join his movement. He is the Anti-Christ. He is rising up soon.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      gmwilliams: What can I say to your comment except "Amen." I think, by the time the next poll comes around, we will see an even bigger increase in "Nones." I can't wait to write that hub in 7 years.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks FlourishAnyway: The U.S. is a long way from bing free of religion and the gwoth of the Evangelical Protestants is a bad sign in my view. They are the fundalmentalists and are the least tolerant of differing opinions.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      letstalkabouteduc. Thanks for your comment and votes. I agrees for many, religion is more about identity than about sincere belief. It is a common theme in some of my other hubs about religion.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      stargrrl 8: Whether or not we are in the end times can only be known retroactively. It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who believe we are in the end times will bring about the end. I will remain optimistic that the future for humanity will only be better and better. I will work towards that end in any way I can.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      In my four-part hub about the 10 most practiced religions, I noticed atheism / agnosticism is the fastest growing group in many parts of the world. China has the largest atheist group because their predominant religion, Confucianism, is atheist. Islam may be one of the fastest growing religions, but it is losing as many converts as it is gaining, so I doubt it will take over the world. The only religions that are doing favorably are Buddhism and Baha'i Faith.

      I could not vote in your poll because I am not a "convinced atheist". I was raised as a devout Christian, but various events in adulthood turned me into an agnostic. That means I believe there could be a God, but He is not like Christians describe Him.

      My personal belief is that all religions are ancient science, attempting to explain the unexplainable and how to best live in this world. All religions are true, and all are cults. The difference is in how they're practiced.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Say Yes to Life: I can see you are an expert on this subject. Thank you for your comment. I just reported on what the polls say. I did not like the wording of the poll question I used, but I wanted to replicate the one Gallup used. The problem with all of these polls is that they do not define their terms. For instance, when I say I am an atheist I mean I do not believe in God as defined by the major religions of the world. By my definition, you are an atheist. maybe there is something else, but since no one has described that something else, I can't say if I think it exists or not.

      Is "The Force" from Star Wars a god? I'm agnostic on that.

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 2 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      I think one should also take into account that scripture predicts that as we draw to the end of this age, apostasy and turning away from the faith will increase (actually 'abound') as will iniquity.

      Yeshua stated clearly the rhetorical question:

      "Will I find faith on the earth when I return?"

      Plus, faith and belief in God is not a popularity race, nobody wins because they have more members, in fact each individual must make their own choice to believe in, or deny Yeshua and Yahweh.

      But a well written article... :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting but not terribly surprising. How do I feel about it? I really have no feelings at all about what other people believe. That's just me. It's a curiosity for me more than anything else. Thanks for an interesting read.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Aguasilver: I am reporting the results of the Pew Poll and other polls. Each person can decide for himself if the trends are good or bad or what they portend. Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you found it well-written even though you may not agree with my interpretations of the poll results. This study obviously cost a lot of money. I wonder who pays for it and why they want this information. It appears to me that someone is interested in who is "winning" and "losing."

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks billybuc for your comment. I am interested in social trends of all kinds. I believe that most people are like you--a poll does not influence their beliefs. I'm pleased to see growth in the proportion who believe as I do, but even if my "side" was losing, that alone would not make me change my mind. It is great to live in a country where we are free to believe as we wish.

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 2 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Agreed Catherine, indeed Churchianity is very concerned at revenue decreases, they have an empire to maintain, and position, influence and power, just like the original Pharisees held, over a willing flock who will pay well, for a prosperity message to tickle their ears with.

      So in that instance your hub is correct in pointing out the decline in Churchianity membership.

      Which is fine, they should never have allowed themselves to become businesses, no matter if their intentions are good. If fact I recently learned of churches with over 120,000 members, that's a whole lot of offerings to be had.

      But I wonder how close those members are to each other and Yahweh?

      Relationship with any entity is a personal matter, I've met many people of different faiths, as well as none, and found many 'non believers' were far more 'Christian' than most professing church members.

      In times of trouble I have found more assistance and understanding from secular folk than from churchgoers, so I make no case that being NONE is any less admirable than professing a belief.

      Personally I chose Yeshua, though I would say it was more He chose me, not as a specific entity, but because I recognised who He was, and wanted to start a relationship.

      I am very bad at relationships, but fortunately He perseveres and slowly we grow closer together.

      Yeshua is so far the ONLY entity who walked the earth to say that He is the ONLY way to Yahweh, which is a massive statement to decide is just a lie or the rantings of a madman without consideration.

      But I would suggest that Churchianity members decide whether they DO have a personal relationship with Yeshua, before I would direct NONES to do any differently than they choose to do.

      It's all a choice, and we all make it daily, actually almost every second, we do something which will either positively or negatively affect our lives and the lives of others.

      If our focus is to see the problems others have and try to solve them, then our lives are blessed with whatever we need to achieve that objective.

      If our lives revolve around our needs and our problems, well.... we choose to empower negativity.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Aguasilver: rPew does not have any data on the finances of the various religions. They merely count how many say "this is my religion." People who self-identify as a member of a particular religion do not have to attend its worship services or even formerly join it. If you say you are a Christina, Hindu, whatever, that is what you are for the purposes of this research. Thank you for your comment. And thank you for recognizing that belief is not necessary to be a good person. I'm glad to hear that you have many good friends who are secular.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Say Yes to Life: I thought some more about your comment about voting in the poll on my hub. You could have voted "Not Religious." You stated you are an agnostic, but not a convinced atheist. Out of the three choices "Not Religious" describes you best.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      CatheringGiordano - about The Force in Star Wars, I really like that idea. It makes sense that there is a Force that is neither good nor evil, and that whichever side wins depends on the skill of the person accessing it. That explains why the good guy does not always win. It may not explain everything, but it makes a lot more sense than an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who allows evil to exist because of "free will".

      My brother told me that Star Wars is largely based on Buddhism, including the theory of The Force. Perhaps that's why Buddhism is doing so well in this day and age; it is based on the laws of Cause and Effect, which we all must live by regardless of our religion (including Snake Handlers).

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is very interesting, Catherine. Thanks for sharing all the data. Like you, I think the "None" category might be a little misleading. I'd love to know what percentage of the Nones consider themselves to be spiritual without being religious and what their beliefs (if any) are.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Say Yes to Life: It was such a pleasure to read your last comment. So insightful. Thanks.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Alicia C: I think all that data is there. I just have to delve into what is called "Detailed Tables." I can do that because my background in market research and I have spent my whole life digging through data. It will be hard work and take a while, but I want to slice and dice that data for more than the obvious conclusions. Thank you for your comment.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I found this a very interesting hub Catherine, especially the stats that show Australia and China are the only countries on the list that identifying as having more non-religious residents than religious. I wouldn't dispute this because a lot of people brought up as Christian are no longer attending churches and are actually starting to question if they really belong to any religion if they are not practicing...hence, non-religious even though they may believe in a God in essence. Voted up.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks, Jodah. I appreciate your comment. Thanks for voting up also. The numbers and trends are very interesting.

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 2 years ago from Canada

      I am enthusiastically awaiting the day of the "atheist tipping point". I expect this to happen within the next 20 years, when millennials are running the country and atheist politicians (and even celebrities) no longer have to lie about their lack of faith.

      I can see it within my own family. I live in a rural community where my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents... were all all very religious (with the exception of my father and, interestingly, paternal grandfather). Now, me and both of my siblings are staunch atheists, as well as some of my cousins, who, like me, had a deeply religious upbringing.

      I think globalization and access not only to a large quantity, but also a wide variety of information through increased mobility and such information avenues as the internet have played a role in inspiring religious doubt amongst young people.

      You might be interested in the situation in the Czech Republic. The last time I checked, over 50% of the Czech population identified as atheist/agnostic, which is extremely unusual in Central and Eastern Europe.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Spongyollama: Thanks so much for you comment. I hadn't thought of it . but you are right. We are on the verge of the tipping point as the Millennials become the leaders of the country. It won't be easy, tho. I loved the personal examples you gave from your own family.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      No surprises really. The poll shows a general trend of what happens after a traumatic event like 911. After that time religion in the West took off as people faced their own mortality and the possibility that sons and daughters would soon be in harm's way.

      As time's gone on people have gone back to the way they were before.

      This isn't a criticism but more an observation of the way things go. I ticked the box for being "religious" but the truth is at times I don't like being labelled with it and there will be a small group like me who have faith but don't like the label

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Lawrence:01: Thanks for your comment. You are correct that after a traumatic event like 9/11 or a major earthquake. there is an increase in religiousity. This mirrors the fact that poorer countries and poorer people are more religious than richer ones. Religion provides hope. However, despite the blips, the trend away from religion is pretty clear. There is so much data in the Pew report--I want to go back and dig deeper to try to explain the trends.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I was also goingto say in the comments that churches have known aboit it for a while and tried to redress the issue.

      Some of the traditional churches that still accept the Bible are more comfortable being jnown as evangelical and some if that change you mention will be them 'switching sides' for wxample in the last few yearsa few hundred Episcopalian churches unhappy with the American Episcopalian stance on homosexuality in the priesthood have refused to come under American bishops and are now pretty much a branch of the Anglican church of West Africa!

      There's still a decline but when you factor those things in you might find the traditional churches aren't doing so bad and its the more liberal side being hit hard

      Blessings and have a good weekend

      Lawrence

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: The churches don't switch. Individuals change and join a different type of church or join the Nones or the other way round. Pew Research decides which category the hundreds of Christian denominations belong to. Unless a mainstream church has become evangelical or vice versa the church stays in the same category even if factions break off. Even though the Presbyterians split, both factions are still classified Mainstream Protestant. You can see how the churches are classified in the appendix of the report.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      In this case the churches (whole congregations as well as priests) did switch. They did so only after the Archbishop of Canterbury intervened as things were getting nasty and the compromise was worked out. My point was that these folks are more likely to be recognised as evangelicals.

      I normally attend an Anglican/ Methodist cooperating church but if you were to ask any of the congregation the most important thing is it's a Bible believing church (we've been able to navigate the compromises only with difficulty)

      Actually the final thing that caused many to leave wasn't homosexuality but same sex marriage as many weren't able to reconcile the way the Bible speaks out against it and then allow it in their sanctuary!

      Here in NZ we also had a number of congregations leave and set up their own groups but here they had to vacate their buildings.

      I'm not disagreeing with the results of the survey but trying to shed some light on one aspect of what is going on.

      Blessongs

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      As I said, you can check the appendix of the Pew report to see if the churches changed from Mainline to evangelical. If a large church was reclassified from mainline to evangelical, that could account for the gains of the evangelicals. This study is for the US, not for other countries.

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      Douglas Mckeever 2 years ago

      I do think they should drop the 'convinced' part from the atheist option. Why is it necessary? It implies that you can only respond if you are absolutely certain that there are no gods. Most atheists don't claim to know for certain. This allows bias (towards religion) to creep into the results. It's a simple change, that would make for fairer results.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      @Douglas Mckeever: I agree with you on the wording of the questionsit can be very misleading. Maybe they were trying to bias the results by requiring a person to be "convinced." Maybe they wanted to draw a clear distinction between religious (as in devout), not religious (like in go to church on Christmas only), and those who definitely have nothing to do with religion.

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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      But if most atheists aren't convinced that there is/are no god/s then they aren't atheists are they? They're agnostic as they are admitting they just don't know!

      I haven't seen any of the questionnaires but wouldn't the purpose be to find out how many believe in God, how many don't and how many just don't know?

      In that respect the present format makes it concise where society is at!

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I want to dig deeper into the data. The responses showed are how the respondents self-identifying. I reported it the way everyone else was reporting it. There are other questions that ask abut belief in God. I want to do cross tabs. There are atheists, agnostic atheists, and agnostics. Atheist agnostics say they do not believe in God, but they don't know if there is a God or not. Trying to have it both ways.

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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Maybe knowing if the agnostic thinks there might or might not be would be interesting but maybe that could be a future subcategory?

      I know over here when the census is done (every five years) those are the things they try to look at and see where the trends are.

      Lawrence

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      Tony Paxton 23 months ago

      Catherine, love your article, although me and statistics do not get along well. But I had to chime in to your last comment, about atheist/theist agnostic, and you said atheist agnostics are "trying to have it both ways", and that is not accurate. Many atheists go overboard to avoid falling into the theist claims of absolute knowledge, which then obliges the claimant to prove their claim. I am afraid many do so with a totally honest intent, and it hurts their position in the end. The truth is, theism/atheism are about what one believes, and gnostic/agnostic is what one knows. From a philosophical perspective, the ONLY honest position to claim is agnostic, whether you believe in God/gods or not, as no one can prove a claim to say they know 100% either way. But we do not use these philosophical "absolute" concepts in most day to day usage. If one is asked if they are agnostic about faeries, or alien abduction stories, most would readily say no, they know these claims are not true (even though they cannot prove these claims). When we deal with religion, for some reason. many do not want to adopt a burden of proof by claiming they know for a fact there is no God/gods, even if they are reasonably convinced that none exist. Part of this is due to the fact that theists, once you make that claim, tend to claim victory because you are also now making unprovable claims, just like them.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Tony Paxton: Thanks for your comment. I tried to make the statistics simple and easy to understand. Part of making things easy to understand is to use everyday language when talking to ordinary people and philosophical language when talking to philosophers.

      Once I heard on these evangelists on the radio. He was railing against atheists, but then he got to agnostics. They were even more stupid than atheists he said because they don't know. He said something like "The most important question of their lives and they don't know.: An agnostic stance says maybe there is and maybe there isn't. An atheist doesn't have to prove anything. Using a statistical term, I'll say the null hypothesis applies. A theory is assumed to be untrue until it is proven true. An atheist is only saying is that I don't believe your theory about the existence of God because it has not been proven to be true.

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      John Harper 23 months ago from Malaga, Spain

      "I don't believe your theory about the existence of God because it has not been proven to be true."

      Maybe should read:

      I don't believe your theory about the existence of God because it has not been proven to me to be true.

      Atheists equally cannot prove God does NOT exist, so in effect the very best anyone (believer or non believer) can state or stand upon is that they cannot know.

      The ONLY way anyone can prove their belief is in dying, and if 'atheists' are correct, nobody will ever know it.

      So in effect (to be secure in their belief) 'atheists' must prove God does not exist, or die.

      Having experienced and still actively seeking further relationship with whatever created this situation, I stand in the believers camp, having once been a secular humanist in an earlier part of life.

      My proof has been incremental, starting from a hope that turned into faith then progressed into trust in Yeshua.

      We each either find that relationship or fail to find it, as we choose.

      The key to finding that relationship stems from a desire to start it, Yeshua forces nobody to start with Him, so unless you are willing and open to starting a relationship, you will never find it.

      Once you are, once you call out for relationship, the proof is provided.

      Everything is upside down and in opposition in Gods Kingdom, rich are poor and poor are rich, faith and trust oppose intellect and science.

      But they who seek get, those who do not, will not receive anything.

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      Austinstar 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      "My proof has been incremental, starting from a hope that turned into faith then progressed into trust in Yeshua."

      Why did you not turn to Thor or Shiva or Ah Men Ra or Santa Claus for proof?

      Why do you say "everything is upside down"?

      Faith and trust do NOT "oppose" intellect and science, they are two different things! The problem is that believers think they can use intellect and science to explain faith and trust. It's like comparing apples to oranges. Science and Faith are different concepts that do not mesh. One does not prove or disprove the other one.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      aguasilver: Thank yu for your comment. The existence of God has not be proven to me or to anyone. Those who believe do so without proof. Atheists do not have to prove anything. The are making no claims. It is people who say God exists who must supply proof. If I say I don't believe in purple people eaters I don't have to prove there are no purple people eaters. However, if I said purple people eaters do exist, you would be right to ask for some proof.

      The survey shows a trend away from religious identification. The nones are about a third of the population in the U.S.. The proportion of atheists is also growing--it is a sub-group of the "nones."

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Austinstar: Thanks for your comment. I admit there is no proof one way or the other on the question of the existence of God. If the faithful want to admit this, it will be a great step forward. Just say, "There is no way to know if God exists or not, but it makes me happy to believe it anyway." Just say that and then stop trying to persuade and force others to share your belief.

      Anyway this hub is about trends vis-a-vis religion--a scientific poll. It shows a trend away from belief.

    • Jeffrey Patten profile image

      Jeffrey Patten 23 months ago

      I really think that this trend has more to do with people feeling, for the first time, that they can speak up about their lack of belief, as opposed to any actual change in how many people believe what. Of course, when it becomes socially acceptable to say that you are not a believer, it causes people to question their faith who had never done so before, and that will lead to some of them concluding that they, also, are not believers, so there will be some actual changes.

      Nevertheless, having people like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan as "front men" for atheism - as opposed to the abrasive Madeline Murray O'Hair - certainly makes it seem more acceptable, both to atheists and agnostics, and also to believers. Perhaps some day soon voters in America will be more willing to vote for an atheist than a gay Muslim.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Jeffrey Patten: Thank you for your comment. Remember not all "Nones" are atheists, but I do agree that it is now more sociably acceptable to be unchurched. I also thin that you are right that soft spoken affable scientists like Tyson and Sagan do more to make atheism acceptable than more strident personalities like O'Hair. BTW, have yu see my hub about Neil deGrasse Tyson. He talks like an antheist, but self identifies as an agnostic.

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      Jeffrey Patten 23 months ago

      I am an agnostic, but believers tend to lump us together, because both atheists and agnostics do not believe in God. I've always thought that asserting that "God does not exist" was a little arrogant, because it is arguably even harder to prove that God does not exist - due to the difficulties inherent in proving a negative - than it would be to prove that God exists. I can visualize our universe both with and without a God. However, through my conversations with both believers and non-believers, I've come to realize that I have a lot more in common with atheists than with believers.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      I am not advocating for or against belief in God here. I am only reporting on the trends in the U.S. and the world. Religiosity and belief in God is on the decline, especially in Western Europe. On the other hand, Islam is growing because of high birth rates and the tendency for Muslims not to leave their religion.

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      Austinstar 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Muslims can't leave their religion. They will be sentenced to literal and figurative death if they do so. I have a real problem with that kind of belief.

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      jgshorebird 23 months ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Great info!

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Austinstar: Thanks or your comment. The fear of leaving the Muslim faith is one reason why it is growing in numbers. The other is high birth rates.

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      Peeples 23 months ago from South Carolina

      Great Article. I am happy to see a change. I have been an atheist most of my life and I have certainly started seeing a small increase in people I meet who are also atheists. My husband works with 3 atheists. Seems a lot in one place, compared to past years. I can only hope the number of non-religious (Nones) continue to increase. We certainly could use a few of them in politics. Truth is there are probably a few already in politics, but because being a "none" currently carries a crazy amount of judgment they would likely not admit it.

      No matter what your beliefs are Catherine, you presented it well. I appreciate having something informative to read early in the morning. I hate I didn't find it sooner. :)

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      Paula 23 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Catherine.....Although I sincerely appreciate all of your diligent research, in my case, I simply get a fairly accurate "feel" for many trends. By this, I mean that paying close attention, starting with my own small part of the world and spreading outward, we can become aware of what is growing, declining or remaining stagnant. Not only religion-wise, but numerous categories.

      Based upon this simple method, I have found in the category of religion, IRONICALLY, people are rarely "honest."

      So many who genuinely are in the "none" segment, keep it to themselves. The reasons? Most are clearly obvious:

      1. They feel their position in this area of their life is NOT the business of anyone.

      2. They have "family" who are highly narrow-minded & they wish to avoid unnecessary conflict

      3. They are quite adverse to constant preaching & harassment from the die-hard believers. (Have no time nor desire for senseless argument)

      These are to name just a few valid reasons for the silence.

      Let's not forget those "phonies" who present as Christians, because they feel it "sounds" safe and/or impressive. These individuals merely want to fit in with what they think is the most acceptable in certain circumstance at particular times.

      I place very little stock in "polls." I have not even included here, the millions of "fence riders" who flip-flop with the wind.

      Thank you Catherine for another fabulous read.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you fpher48 I think your points are right on. People are definitely not honest about religion, with others and most likely with themselves as well. It is hard to know from poll how many Nones there actually are, but we can look at the trends to see that beliefs are gaining. Fortunately fo humanity, the polls show things going in the right direction in most parts of the world.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      peeples: Thanks for your comment and your praise for my writing. I am sorry I did not respond sooner--your comment escaped my notice. Yu are absolutely right about atheists in politics being afraid to admit. I have a feeling about some of them. I hope one day people won't be afraid to be honest. I heard recently that in England, they had to cover up the fact that Tony Blair was religious for fear it would cost him the election. Exactly the opposite from the U.S.

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      Alan 20 months ago from Tasmania

      Catherine, I am lately (again) in reading your Hub inputs, but find everything you write is sensible, sensitive and searching! Thank you for a good read, including the comments..... always handled with patience and caring.

      In one of your graphs above, I think there is a typographical error in the column headings, where 2014 should be in the place of 2007. And where a gain or loss is indicated, that does not correlate with the headings.

      It's the chart where Christian, Evangelical Protestant, Catholic, Other Christian, are compared.

      For example, where an increased percentage is claims in the last column, it does not concur with the figures.

      Am I mistaken?

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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      jonnycomelately: You are correct about the heading being reversed. I have corrected it. Thank you very much for pointing it out. Details have always been my bete noir and advanced age isn't helping any. If you ever see anything that doesn't look right, please let me know. Thank you for your kind words about my writing.

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