A new poll on religious affiliation in the country shows that the number of Christians has declined while the number of people not affiliated with a religion is up.
Firstly, the new Pew Research Center poll does not suggest that the change in numbers automatically means that agnosticism or even atheism is up a commensurate amount, only that a larger number of respondents are no longer claiming to be part of a particular religion.
“The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing,” Pew said on Tuesday.
“While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults,” Pew continued, “it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.”
The country is still one of the most Christian countries in the world, but the numbers are on a downward trend.
Pew noted that, “the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated–describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’–has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%. And the share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also has inched up, rising 1.2 percentage points, from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2014. Growth has been especially great among Muslims and Hindus, albeit from a very low base.”
The poll did find that the number of Republicans who claim the various sects of Protestantism as their own is still large. 68 percent identify as religious and Republican, this was only down one percent from the last Pew poll. At the same time, the number of people who claim they are unaffiliated with a religion say they lean Democrat. 61 percent of this group say they lean toward the Democrats.
But the poll shows that in 2007 just over 16 percent of the population considered themselves unaffiliated. Today that number stands at almost 23 percent. That is a pretty big jump in only seven years. In fact, this makes the unaffiliated the second biggest category in the survey. They have surpassed even Catholics who fell from 23.9 percent to 20.8 percent. In the 2015 survey, only evangelicals surpass the unaffiliated with 25.4 percent.