Fewer Americans Say They are “Religious”

An American Religious Identification Survey has found that fewer Americans claim religious affiliation today than in 2001.  The survey found that 15% of respondents said they had no religion.  This is an increase from 14.2% in 2001 and from 8.2% in 1990.  So, the trend seems to be that religious affiliation is decreasing.

Those who identified themselves as Christians decreased from 77% in 2001 to 76% today.  The percentage who identified themselves as Christian in 1990 was 86%.

The survey also reports numbers on other religious groups, but since this is a blog discussing Christianity, I will not mention them here.  They are available at the link provided to the study (mentioned above) if you are interested in them.

As a Christian church leader, this is concerning to me.  However, I have to admit that I am not surprised by the findings.  I think I would have predicted similar findings if asked prior to the study.

What are the reasons for the decline?  I have a few theories.  Let me know what you think about these or if you have other thoughts.

  1. There is a greater acceptance of atheistic and agnostic views in our culture today.
  2. Atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris are having success in their attacks on Christianity.
  3. Proclaiming oneself as non-religious is not seen as taboo, as it has been in the past, so respondents have become more honest in their answers.
  4. Christians in the U.S. have become so focused on self that they fail to proclaim the word, which has led to a drop in numbers.
  5. The word “religion” is understood negatively and people do not want to be associated with it.  Therefore, they claim no religious affiliation even thought they may still be Christian in their beliefs.

What are your thoughts?  I am focusing on Christianity here, but if you have thoughts on religion in general, I would be interested in reading them.  Why are more people saying they are non-religious?

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One Response to Fewer Americans Say They are “Religious”

  1. Jeff says:

    I like your five possible reasons for the decline in people identifying with Christianity. Which one of those reasons is most prevalent? I’d say: D; all of the above.

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