Study: More Americans reject religion, but believers firm in faith


AMERICANS as a whole are becoming less religious, but those who still practice a faith are just as committed as they were in the past — in certain respects even more so.

The 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study provides some solace to those who bemoan the undeniable rise of the “nones” — people who claim no religious affiliation. “People who say they have a religion — which is still the vast majority of the population — show no discernible dip in levels of observance,” said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research at Pew.

“They report attending religious services as often as they did a few years ago. They pray as often as they did before, and they are just as likely to say that religion plays a very important role in their lives,” he added. “On some measures there are even small increases in their levels of religious practice.”

More religiously affiliated adults, for example, read scripture regularly and participate in small religious groups compared to seven years ago, according to the survey. And 88% of religiously affiliated adults say they pray daily, weekly or monthly — the same percentage that reported regular prayer in the first landscape study in 2007.

“We should remember that the United States remains a nation of believers with nearly 9 in 10 adults saying they believe in God,” said Gregory Smith, Pew’s associate director of research.

That said, religious affiliation overall has ticked down by about 3 percentage points in recent years, driven mainly by growth in the share of “nones” who say they don’t believe in God. Even among Christians — 98% of whom say they believe in God — fewer believe with absolute certainty: 76% today compared with 80% in 2007.

About 77% of adults surveyed describe themselves as religiously affiliated, a decline from 83% in 2007.

Pew researchers attribute these drops to the dying off of older believers, and a growing number of Millennials — those born from 1982 through early 2000s — who claim no religious affiliation.

The researchers also found that as religiosity in America wanes, a more general spirituality is on the rise, with 6 in 10 adults saying they regularly feel a “deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being,” up 7 percentage points since 2007. Also increasing: the number of people who experienced a “deep sense of wonder” about the universe, which also jumped 7 percentage points.

More striking numbers in the study describe changing Christian attitudes toward gay Americans. Though the new survey is not the first to document such change, it shows in detail how dramatically members of a broad swath of denominations — even those that officially oppose homosexuality — have shifted in their views.

The number of evangelical Protestants, for example, who said they agreed that “homosexuality should be accepted by society” jumped 10 percentage points between the 2007 and 2014 studies — from 26% to 36%. The increase for Catholics was even steeper, from 58% to 70%. For historically black Protestant churches, acceptance jumped from 39% to 51%.

Other findings from the study include:

• A minority of Jews — 40% — and the vast majority of Muslims — 90% — say they do not eat pork, the consumption of which is forbidden by Jewish and Islamic law. Hinduism does not allow beef to be eaten, and nearly 7 in 10 Hindus (67%) say they abide by that rule.

• Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say religious institutions bring people together and strengthen community bonds, and 87% say they play an important role in helping the poor and needy.

• Women are more prayerful than men: 64% say they pray every day, compared with 46% of men.

• On evolution, more than 62% of Americans say humans have evolved over time, while about a third (34%) say humans always existed in their present form.

• Six in 10 adults, and three-quarters of Christians, believe the Bible or other holy scripture is the word of God. About 31% overall — and 39% of Christians — believe it should be interpreted literally.



5 thoughts on “Study: More Americans reject religion, but believers firm in faith

  1. Muslims who favor making sharia the law of the land generally agree that the requirements of Islam should apply only to Muslims. Across the regions where the question was asked, medians of at least 51% say sharia should apply exclusively to adherents of the Muslim faith. This view is prevalent even in regions such as South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, where there is overwhelming support for enshrining sharia as the official law of the land. (See chart in Should Sharia Apply to All Citizens? in Chapter 1: Beliefs About Sharia.)

    At the country level, there are notable exceptions to the view that sharia should apply only to Muslims. These include Egypt, where 74% of Muslims say sharia should be the law of the land and nearly three-quarters of them (or 55% of all Egyptian Muslims) say Islamic law should apply to people of all faiths.


  2. In the coming decades, India will have the distinction of having the largest populations of two of the three largest religions in the world – Islam and Hinduism – according to new religious projections data from Pew Research Center.

    India is already home to most of the world’s Hindus. In 2010, 94% of the world’s Hindus lived in India, and this is expected to remain true in 2050, when 1.3 billion Hindus are projected to live in the country.

    But India also is expected have 311 million Muslims in 2050 (11% of the global total), making it the country with the largest population of Muslims in the world. Currently, Indonesia has the world’s largest number of Muslims.


  3. Perhaps the time is coming where preaching is no longer necessary?

    Jeremiah 24:7
    I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

    Jeremiah 31:33
    “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

    Romans 11:27
    And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

    2 Corinthians 3:3
    You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

    Hebrews 8:10
    For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    Hebrews 10:16
    “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”


    • This time will come at the end of the world, when Jesus comes to usher in a new world order.

      “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Mat. 24:14

      International missionary societies report that there are a few spots on the earth that currently haven’t heard the gospel, or don’t have access to it. So we are very close.

      One of the reasons why preaching might not be needed before the second coming of Jesus is found in 2 Thess. 2:3:

      “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

      The reason why there will not be any need for preaching under these circumstances is that there is a falling away from the faith, in other words there will be apostasy from the faith (in spite of current statistics about religion today). If there is a falling away, preaching the gospel becomes useless.

      2 Tim. 3:1 tells us that in the last days, perilous times will come. It then gives a list of spiritual problems that makes preaching the gospel useless. Ironically these people will still retain the forms of religion in spite of not living the gospel, or wanting to know about the gospel.

      Which brings us to the statistics about religion quoted above. I wonder how many people are included in the category “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof” 2 Tim. 3:5.


      • God doesn’t always move with lightening speed. One day is to him as a thousand years, and who knows what is in the process of happening right now. “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”. If the ‘end’ of this world is to be followed by a new world order, perhaps we should look around us now for signs of the presence of Jesus.


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