America Is Becoming Less Christian, Less Religious

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America is still a predominantly Christian nation, but it’s becoming both less Christian and less religious, according to the results of the new American Religious Identification Survey. According to the poll, which came out today, the percentage of Americans who define themselves as Christian has dropped from 86 percent in 1990 to 76 percent in 2008. In one of the most dramatic shifts, 15 percent of Americans now say they have no religion — a figure that’s almost doubled in 18 years. Americans with no religious preference are now larger than all other major religious groups except Catholics and Baptists.

“What seems to be happening is there is a decline in what we might call traditional brand loyalty to the old denominations, specific churches,” said Barry Kosmin, a principle investigator for the American Religious Identification Survey. In the last 18 years, despite population growth and immigration, almost all religious denominations have lost ground. Mainline Protestants are down the most. Methodists, for example, have gone from 8 to 5 percent. Baptists are down from 19.3 to 15.8. And Jews are down from 1.8 to 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of atheists, while still small, has nearly doubled from 900,000 to 1.6 million. Kosmin says that people may feel more comfortable admitting their lack of faith at a time when atheist books, like Christopher Hitchens’ “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” and movies are getting a lot of attention. Comedian Bill Maher took aim at religion in his documentary film “Religulous,” saying that he preaches “the gospel of ‘I Don’t Know.'”

But researchers point out that just because people are dropping out of organized religion, that doesn’t mean they’re abandoning faith. In an informal poll on Twitter today, we heard similar sentiments.

“I no longer attend church, but still pray to Jesus,” said Sean Whitney.

Dramatic Shift in Way Americans Worship

“I dropped out of the Catholic faith years ago. However, it doesn’t mean I have stopped believing in God,” said Carmen Rivera.

The study finds that more people are exploring spiritual frontiers. Some 2.8 million Americans now say they identify with new religious movements like Wicca, paganism or spiritualists. Catholic strongholds in New England and the Midwest have faded as people have moved toward the Sunbelt.

“We are becoming a nation of spiritually anchored people who are not traditionally religious,” said Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.

While Americans may be leaving established denominations, the one major growth area in American Christianity is among evangelicals. Megachurches are booming, rising from 5 to 11.8 percent of the population.

And with the economy in free fall, many megachurches say they’re seeing increased attendance. They’re praying that perhaps hard times will draw Americans back to their faith.

17 Comments

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Varnel Watson

    IS IT TRUE? William DeArteaga Terry Wiles Joe Absher

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    William DeArteaga

    Yes and no. There are less nominal Christians (good riddance) but the persons who identify themselves as Christian are more devote than in the past. and many of them have learned effective prayer – scant a generation ago.

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Robert Erwine

    by centuries end Muslims and Christians will be a minority

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Terry Wiles

    Robert Erwine Are you an atheist?

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    John Galloway

    What else would you expect when pastors preach watered down sermons and won’t mention anything about sin.

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Terry Wiles

    When the average Christian only attends church 2 hours a week or less and the information flow from the world is 24/7, you end up with Christians in name only.

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Robert Erwine

    NO ! I am merely giving prophetic utterance

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Joe Absher

    1. Isthe statement, “And Ands are down from 1.8 to 1.2 percent.” problematic?
    2. More sin in the culture is better for the gospel people often hide behind .”religion”
    3. I would think of the list of ten post-christian cities more of target areas
    4. Thank you finally a top ten worst list Milwaukee is not on.

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Joe Absher

    Christians will be a minority in the future is no prophecy pastor Terry Wiles. Nor is this hell which I noticed you also liked as a statement. The Christian is born again, repentent, and devoted to Jesus Christ and committed to loving their nieghbor supporting God’s work, namely the local body. And keeps his eye on the harvest, plants waters and enourages men everywhere to seek God and trust in Jesus for salvation that is by grace through faith in him.

    • Reply June 26, 2018

      Terry Wiles

      Wow! Feel the judgment from here. FYI, the like was for not an atheist.

      But that probably means nothing to those who are so narrow minded they look down a soda straw with both eyes at the same time.

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Robert Erwine

    anytime you want to break the bread of the word of life Brother , I am down and in town .

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Varnel Watson

    Which town? Robert Bro William DeArteaga Not sure if you’ve read where I mentioned to Terry Wiles and Steve Maxwell that I was actually part of that study Harverd offered a very secularized approach. It was a very liberal study to begin with providing a statistical way to prove that the last elections have drawn a large bunch liberal Christians that are now openly allowed to affiliate and integrate with conservative evangelicals. BTW the study also shows open decline in mainline Charismatic churches like our AG in following 2016, though non-Charismatic churches are enjoying a temporary increase of visitors. The search for true Biblical spirituality continues… Your thoughts?

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Robert Erwine

    Milwaukee

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Dennis D. Niles

    I like to be in Portland, ME…mostly for the clam chowder!!!

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