Religion by the numbers

In 2015, the Pew Research Center released America’s Changing Religious Landscape, in which the data supported the conclusion:

The Christian share of the US population is declining, while the number of US adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.


Christianity (in all its different flavors) had declined in popularity since their previous survey in 2007, from 78.4% to 70.6%, while the “Unaffiliated” (sometimes referred to as the “Nones”) had risen from 16.1% to 22.8%.

Another major study from Pew isn’t scheduled to come out until 2022, but yesterday they released what they are calling "An update on America's changing religious landscape,” and the numbers tell a story:  God may not be dead in the eyes of most Americans, but he is on life support, and if the current trends hold, he hasn’t much time.

The headline is:  Christianity is still declining — rapidly — while Secular Americans now make up more than a quarter of the population.

Only 43% of Americans adhere to a Protestant Christian denomination, down from 51% only ten years ago, while only 20% identify as Catholic, down from 23% in 2009.  In the same time period, atheists now account for 4% of US adults, meaning our numbers have doubled from 2% in 2009!  17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular.”

In terms of raw numbers, 68 million Americans describe themselves as unaffiliated with any religion, or “Nones” (which would include atheists like myself), a number which far outpaces the 50 million who call themselves Catholics.

And while those who identify as Christians still account for 167 million Americans, regular church attendance has fallen to below 50%.  Just five years ago, half of America’s population attended church at least once a month, while the other half went a few times a year, to mark occasions such as Christmas or Easter.  Now, 54% of Americans say they only go a few times a year at the very most.  Regular churchgoers make up less than half — only 45% — of the entire US population.


Only 35% of Millennials say they regularly attend church, while 64% only go a few times a year; 22% of them say they “never” go.

As for party affiliation, Republican “Nones” increased 6 percentage points over the last ten years, from 10% in 2009 to 16% now.  That number is 34% for Democrats, but Americans identifying as Democrats and Christians still total 55%, a majority — meaning the Democratic party cannot “ignore” religion (yet) if it hopes to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, flip the Senate, and keep the House.

But overall, I think we can see where this is going.

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