We are in the midst of the “Great Decline of Religion” in America. In a previous post, I showed in one graph thousands of survey results. But here are just five measures of American religion reported annually by Gallup that each show the same thing: religion in America is on the decline.


One of the most important measures is the rise of the so-called “nones.” This is the growing segment of Americans you say “none” when asked what their religion is. Two decades ago, only one-in-twenty Americans said they weren’t part of any religion. Today, it is at least three times that level, with the “nones” becoming one of the largest religious groups in the country.


It’s tough to get Americans to accurately report whether or not they attend church. Regardless, even a measure that may over-report attendance is showing a decline. This graph shows the percentage who report attending more often then “seldom” or “never” (so, once a month or more). The average has moved from the low-60 percentages to nearly 50 percent (a twenty percent drop).



Both the decline in people identifying with religion and attendance is related to membership. Even people who never attend church may be a member of a religious community. Twenty years ago, seven-in-ten Americans said they were members of a church or other religious group. Today, it’s less than six-in-ten.


Ok, so maybe it’s not a decline of religion per se but a decline in “organized religion.” Gallup and other pollsters get around this by asking about how important religion is people’s lives.  As with the other measures, this measure of religion is moving downward. It, too, has dropped about ten points since the early 1990s.


How about this measure: is religion relevant for today’s problems or is it out of date?  The percentage of people who think religion is relevant for today is down from 80 percent to 70 percent.


There are more sophisticated ways of combining these measures, but here is combination that puts them into one graph. This is simply the average of all the measures for each year.  In the early 1990s, this average was hovering around 78 percent. From 2000 onward, the measures have been in decline, reaching 69 percent last year.

Categories: Beliefs

Tobin Grant

Tobin Grant

@TobinGrant blogs for Religion News Service at Corner of Church and State, a data-driven conversation on religion and politics. He is a political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.


  1. Roderic Rinehart

    These are not surprising to anyone who has an open mind and doesn’t wish their worldview onto the data. It makes you wonder how long the far right-wing push for religion to enter all parts of the government, the laws, and the bedroom can remain relevant. It is quite probable that all of these trends will continue in the future.

    It is sad to see that “nones” and those lacking any membership, who represent a sizable chunk of the American population, not only have almost no influence in politics, but are shunned and disparaged in the media and in the workforce.

    • You are a dingo.

      Religious decline cannot help but happen when there are poo flinging sites like RNS constantly criticizing traditional christian doctrine, and praising it when it does something in line with liberal ideology.

      This is not the result of religion being pushed in gov, school or the most laughable thing you mentioned…the bedroom. No, decline is the result of liberal thought being pushed on religion with gov and the conduit.

      No one is proud of the country. No one has equity in their own lives. No one is not perverted in some way. Everyone is scared of everyone else. No one lets kids play outside alone, and they cannot be entertained past the age if 6 without the entertainment having dark undertones or a subtle reference to a morally conflicting political issue.

      Liberals are to blame, and whatever brand of religion or absence of religion they claim to follow. A look back at the metrics of history shows you a version of our country where conservative thought ruled. And the metrics were far better.

      Now you guys are firmly in charge. Your metrics suck. Your version of this country sucks. You raising kids who will suck as bad as you.

      Liberal thought is to blame.

      • Lles Nats, I’m a liberal, and proud of it. Since I’m in charge now according to you, I’ll be nice (read moral) and give you a choice of what other country you would like to move to. I’ll provide the plane ticket (read welfare), but your choice has to be one that will welcome refugees like you, escaping what you feel are unbearable living conditions. Don’t want to subject you to a bunch of ideological idiots yelling and screaming at you to go home (read moral). Now, unless you don’t have your head firmly inserted up inside your obviously oversize backside, you have no choice, so pick your new home and let me know, so I can see you off. You realize you have lost, so just move on. You will not be missed.

        • Being proud of being illogical only makes for an obtuse conversation.

          As such, lets be frank. You can’t afford to send me anywhere. Your flat broke along with everyone else in your magnificent country. Thats the result of a sacked public treasury.

          So I will take my hardworking butt (I’m thinking your a woman as your best insult was to call me fat butt) and the money I earned in voluntary transactions (read not tax redistribution) and leave you to a laughable gov that prints money to buy its own debt in mass.

          Please continue to pretend thr positions you individually and collectively hold are respectable. Its amazing entertainment.

          • Obtuse is the epitome of most of your posts I’ve read.
            You can choose to be Frank, or Joe, or Ed or whomever you want as it is obvious you exist in a fantasy world anyway. Me, I’ll remain who I am, keep guessing.
            This is a country that has flaws (insert conservative idiots, among other things), but it still is the best place to be in this world.
            I’ve made a great living for me and my family here, and although I really could afford to send you anywhere you wanted to go, I know you are ideologically opposed to welfare, so you wouldn’t except it; welfare you know.
            Your rants reveal that you are an angry person who has not had a satisfying life, and because of that anger, wishes to pull everyone else down into your black hole of misery.
            Do yourself a favor. Stop posting for awhile. Stop allowing this “liberal” web site to pull you into angry tirades. It is not healthy, for you. Give not only yourself, but others a break from your vitriol.
            Go read a book, smell a flower, watch a child play. Find some joy!! Life is too short for hate like this.

          • It’s hard to take you seriously when you can’t spell simple words such as “you’re”. Religion is not in decline because we crafted a modern world where it’s not applicable. Religion is in decline because it’s unable to adapt to new ideas and information. Is this a problem the modern world needs to solve? The decline of religion appears to be a problem with religion. From a social perspective people inherently covet choice. Religion attempts to makes choices for you which in many cases is an exercise in futility.

          • Lies Nats,

            You’re making a lot of claims that can’t be thoroughly substantiated any more than Liberals claiming the same of you. Politics is a ridiculous topic to argue over. It is not evidence based: it’s based on which wealthy law graduate can raise the most money campaigning from credulous people. That’s who runs our country. Bush, Obama, it doesn’t matter. This article is about the decline of religion. It tallies the individual, were not talking about a liberal conspiracy. What a claim!

      • Lies,

        My oh my … you have all the conservative hot buttons wrapped up in one tirade. This article was only about religion, so you’ve conflated everything in your doom and gloom.

        The article only talks about the decline of religion and implies that it’s less relevant to modern life. It’s not some conspiracy of the liberal puppet masters. It’s just a fact, based upon the sum of each individual’s evaluation of world views. Traditional religion doesn’t add much to modern life. It suffers from the negative views associated with reactionary stands on moral issues and its divisiveness of society.

        But since you conflated all the conservative hot buttons with religion, the western world, by most quantitative measures, on average, is doing better that it has ever done in history … aside from the greatly increased income inequality. And the godless northern European countries are doing the best of all. They also rate as the “happiest” in the world.

        • Yes. Happiest in the world.

          Tell me, is their any truth to the axiom ignorance is bliss?

          Aside that, I agree with you. Religion is in decline because we’ve crafted a modern world where its not applicable.

          My point was that, yes, while this has happened, are we better than we were before? My answer is obvious. But getting people to think about it was my reason for the effort of posting and offending you all.

          • Lies,

            You didn’t offend us. You’re just beating a dead, irrelevant horse and we’re pointing it out to you. It’s sad that you seem to pine for some non-existent utopian past defined through your rose-colored religion glasses, when all indications are that the daily life in the western world is better and happier than it ever was. And the improvements have nothing to do with religion. We haven’t “crafted” this world without religion. Religion is just going away because it doesn’t have much to contribute, and current incarnations promote hate and divisiveness.

            “Tell me, is their any truth to the axiom ignorance is bliss?”

            LOL – face the facts and the data. Your statements show more like: “conservative ignorance of the facts begets misery.”

          • No offense here. The studies show the world is becoming a safer better place. Who knows if it is related or not but as religion fades all sorts of good things are happening. Violent death rates are down except in religious areas, medical research is at an all time high but not happening in heavily religious areas except the US where religion is fading, crime rates are falling except in religious areas around the world, wars are down in size and scope except where religion is rife. We have a lot to be grateful for as the log march away from religion continues. Steven Pinker has some really interesting research on how the world is improving as it becomes more secular.

      • Organized institutions of all sorts are binging picked apart because most are corrupt or becoming corrupt. It’s in goverment at all levels, it’s in religion at all levels and it’s all about power, money and status. Absolute power corrupts. Period! Humans, for whatever reason, become intoxicated with power, money and status. It’s exactally why Jesus got stung up on a cross!

      • Mr. Anti-Dingo,

        I’m smarter than you are. I’m nicer than you are. I’m more compassionate and more forgiving than you are. I’m more inclusive than you are. I’m more practical than you are. I’m more loving than you are.

        Whether I believe in God or not, I’m going to make the country better.

        You aren’t.

      • Re: “Religious decline cannot help but happen when there are poo flinging sites like RNS constantly criticizing traditional christian doctrine, and praising it when it does something in line with liberal ideology.”

        You’ve done a fantastic job of missing the point of this data. The data doesn’t say anything about the KIND of religious thinking that people are adhering to (i.e. “traditional” or “liberal” doctrines or ideologies). It does, however, talk about their religiosity in general (e.g. church attendance, importance of religion in their lives, etc.).

        In other words, it doesn’t show people are moving from “traditional” religion to “liberal” religion. It shows how they’re leaving religion altogether.

        As for the dying of “traditional” religion (vs “liberal” or other forms of religious thinking), it’s up to its adherents who object to people rejecting it, to demonstrate precisely how and why their approach is superior to all others. Sadly, it doesn’t seem they’re willing to do it … or able to do it, even if they were willing. All they can do is pitch fits, stamp their feet, and whine and cry as they see the rest of the world leaving them behind, concocting all sorts of paranoaic conspiracy theories (e.g. yours, that Web sites like RNS are engaged in a subversive effort to destroy them). It’s time for them to grow up and deal with it already instead of throwing tantrums and lying about people in order to make them feel better about themselves. It’s juvenile and it needs to stop.

      • EmpiricalPierce

        “A look back at the metrics of history shows you a version of our country where conservative thought ruled. And the metrics were far better.”

        [citation needed]

        • @EmpiricalPierce:

          This is the sort of “Conservative thought”
          which needs to return:

          “This would be the best of all possible worlds,
          if there were no religion in it.”
          John Adams

          “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my religion.”
          Abraham Lincoln

          “The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy.” – George Washington

          “The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian Religion.”
          – George Washington

          “To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.”
          – Thomas Paine

          “In every country and in every age, the preacher has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
          -Thomas Jefferson

          “On the dogmas of religon, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.”
          – Thomas Jefferson, 1816

          “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”
 – Mark Twain

          “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.”
          – Benjamin Franklin

          “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
          – Benjamin Franklin

”I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.”
          – William Howard Taft, American President
          and Chief Justice (1857-1930).

          “Religion is all bunk.”

          “I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God.” – Thomas Edison,
          American inventor (1847-1931)

          • Donald Arthur Kronos

            Nice list Atheist Max, and I just tweeted your quote of yourself at https://twitter.com/DonaldKronos/status/684225146945548288

      • @Lles,

        You said,
        “No one is proud of the country. No one has equity in their own lives. No one is not perverted in some way. Everyone is scared of everyone else. No one lets kids play outside alone…”

        You unwittingly expose
        the depravity of religion; your beliefs are a DOWNER and they are inhuman. You have a NIHILIST and FASCIST philosophy of life. Thanks to your belief in a god.

        Less religion almost always LEADS TO LOWER CRIME RATES.*

        Less religion coincides with HIGHER EDUCATION.*

        Less religion coincides with equal WOMEN’S RIGHTS*

        Less religion coincides with HAPPIER SOCIETIES*

        Less religion coincides with WEALTHIER SOCIETIES.*

        Less religion coincides with LESS WEALTH DISPARITY*

        NON Religious countries are happier than Religious countries.*

        Scandinavia, Australia,
        Finland, Belgium
        Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg,
        Uruguay, Austria, Lithuania
        Northern Germany, Northern France,
        Iceland, Greenland,
        Switzerland, New Zealand

        Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Haiti, Kuwait
        Egypt, Vatican City, Rwanda
        Saudi Arabia, Palestine

        We humans are all the same
        and all of us
        are capable of of great things. But only if we abandon the one philosophy which continues to destroy every human decency: RELIGION.

      • Or it is showing a common trend within ALL western democracies. That religion is on the decline through out the western world. In today’s world it is harder and harder to believe in the fairy tale story that just does not make any logical sense

      • Now that was funny. The decline is due substantially to generational disinterest as younger generations are taking a greater interest in their own families and simply have no time to devout to something as superfluous as religion. Looking at the numbers, the bigger declines are in the dogmatic religions as generations are shedding paternalism as a guide to their lives. Religion is by far the most paternalistic structure in this nation and each generation believes it is more important to find their own way through life than through old, rotting dogmas. In short, they spend more time raising their children than going to church. Blaming it on Liberalism is simply empty headed hyperbole. If that is the case, why are Conservative Christian faiths losing the larger numbers? DERP.

      • I love it when idiots blame the liberals, shows their total lack of intelligence, it’s not a political issue, it’s a human and choice issue, you don’t need God to raise good compassionate children, you don’t need God to be a good person.

    • ” ‘nones’….represent a sizable chunk of the American population, not only have almost no influence in politics, but are shunned and disparaged”

      Not for long.
      Atheists are speaking up.
      Because Hobby Lobby and SCOTUS and Greece, NY. are getting our attention as well they should.

      Atheists are uniting and we are spending big money.
      I know at least 5 atheists personally who have sent $20,000 each
      to support various secular organizations simply because of Hobby Lobby.

      the Religious will need to confront a growing agnostic, atheist and free thought community which will be well financed and ready to take on
      this garbage called religion with some very confrontational anti-religoin campaigns.

      Enough is enough.

    • Yes, you can barely turn on the TV without seeing some sit-com pushing religion, or some corporate big-wig trying to compel people to go to church, or politicians arguing points of doctrine. It’s crazy!

    • i agree. i too think that the far right wing in our government (which now is our congress and senate) will continue to push, but will eventually be drowned out by the expansion of the internet and common sense and understanding. societies constantly evolve. america is still a young country and heavily influenced by right wing, sometimes religious propaganda. it is up to the millennial generation to try and rid religion out of government for good.

      • America is more Democratized than people realize. Younger generations simply are going their own way on their own belief systems. Religion and politics don’t offer them anything tangible. The grand lie of dogma is wilting under the harsh light of reality. Religion offers no reality. Santa Claus has no clothes.

  2. It’s only a ten point decline on average over a little less than 20 years. The scale of the graphs is a little misleading…and they aren’t all the same scale, either…visually, it looks impressive (scary to religious folk, hopeful to agnostics like me) but I don’t think it’s a fair representation of reality.

  3. This is great news.

    Unfortunately it is too late to affect The Supreme Court
    which is made up of Catholic fascists
    who want to force religion on the rest of us
    whether we like it or not.

    “bring to me those enemies of mine who would NOT have me as their KING,
    And EXECUTE THEM IN FRONT OF ME.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

  4. samuel Johnston

    It appears to me that the leading reasons for the decline of the Christian religion in the United States are:
    1) A lack of seriousness by the Churches concerning religion, its history and meaning,
    and ethical demands.
    2) The relentless suburbanization, and its destruction of the permanent community, and therefore the power of the Churches over the lives of its members
    3) The exposure to and the availability of information about anything and everything that exposes the weakness of the claims of religions and sects.
    4) There is no longer any social sanction for those who abandon their church.
    5) The better educated no longer join the ministry/priesthood. The prestigious professions are all secular. The clergy appear either ignorant, or mercenary. It is a downward spiral.

    • @samuel Johnston,

      Good list.
      Other reasons for the demise OF RELIGION in America
      more generally:

      6. A pathetic NEW marketing team:
      Osama Bin Laden
      Mohammed Atta
      George Bush
      Dick Cheney
      Pat Robertson
      Jerry Falwell
      Sarah Palin
      Mitt Romney
      Michele Bachmann
      Benjamin Netenyahu
      The Catholic League

      7. A Pathetic OLD marketing team:
      Allah – “slay the infidels”
      Yahweh – “Kill unbelievers”
      Jesus – “Execute them in front of me”

      8. A pathetic argument for God:
      “I gave you free will so you could deny that I exist
      therefore that is proof that I exist.”

      9. The undeniable and wondrous achievements of SCIENCE:
      Photos from Mars rovers
      Cancer treatments with stem cells
      The Internet
      Quantum Technology
      Cardio-Pulmonary advances
      to name a few

      10. And the Amazing examples of great Atheists,
      Freethinkers and Agnostics:
      Carl Sagan (Cosmos)
      Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Cosmos)
      Paul Newman (Newman’s Own)
      The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr
      Warren Buffet – Billionaire philanthropist
      Jonas Salk (discoverer of the Polio vaccine)
      Max Von Sydow (played Jesus in Greatest Story Ever Told – is atheist)
      James Randi
      Langston Hughs
      Steven Hawking
      Andy Rooney (60 Minutes)
      Pat Tillman (true Atheist in a foxhole)
      Thomas Edison
      Steven Wozniak
      Clarence Darrow
      Andrew Carnegie
      Francis Crick
      Charles Schultz (creator of Peanuts, Charlie Brown Christmas)
      Jacques Yves Cousteau
      Abraham Lincoln
      Bertrand Russell
      Richard Stauss
      Roger Ebert
      Albert Einstein
      Richard Feynman
      Barbara Forrest
      Linus Carl Pauling
      Maurice Sendak
      Helen Keller
      Noam Chomsky
      Paul Kurtz
      David Hume
      Steven Weinberg
      Peter Higgs
      James D. Watson
      Ray Romano
      Ted Williams
      Scott Joplin
      Marlene Deitrich
      Butterfly McQueen
      Billy Joel
      Steven Pinker
      Sigmund Freud
      Bruce Lee
      Bill Nye
      Susan B. Anthony
      E.O. Wilson
      Alan Turing
      William Shatner
      Marlon Brando
      Noam Chomsky
      Katherine Hepburn
      Helen Mirren
      Andrew Carnegie
      Richard Branson
      Kurt Vonnegut
      Kai Nielson
      Gene Wilder
      Virginia Wolf
      Charlie Chaplin
      Richard Rodgers
      Arthur Schleshinger Jr.
      Frida Kahlo
      Ernest Hemingway
      Robert Wright
      Michael Martin
      Peter Singer
      Jerry Coyne
      Jennifer Michael Hecht
      Victor Stenger
      Martin Amis
      Philip Roth
      Ian McEwan
      Michael Shermer
      Oscar Wilde
      Frank Zappa
      Mark Zuckerberg
      Jamie Hyneman
      George C Scott
      Andy Rooney
      Ayaan Hirsi Ali
      Daniel Radcliffe
      Penn and Teller
      Arthur Miller
      Barry Manilow
      Kevin Bacon
      Burt Lancaster
      George Orwell
      Steve Jobs
      Mark Twain
      George Carlin
      Rodney Dangerfield
      Adam Savage – Mythbusters
      George Bernard Shaw
      Simon de Beauvoir
      Isaac Asimov
      Thomas Paine
      Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek)
      Rod Serling – (creator of The Twilight Zone)
      John Stossel
      Brian Eno
      Leonard Susskind
      Stephen Jay Gould
      Dan Dennett
      Thomas Mann
      Noel Coward
      Philip Pullman
      Richard Leakey
      A.C. Grayling
      Lawrence Krauss
      Jodie Foster
      Stephen Fry
      Mick Jagger
      Margot Kidder
      Larry King
      Keira Knightley
      Brad Pitt
      Sam Harris
      David Jon Gilmour
      Robyn Williams
      Stanley Kubrick
      Richard Feynman – Physicist
      Buckminster Fuller
      Gene Kelly
      Paul Robeson

      A large percentage of Doctors, especially those
      who volunteer for Doctors Without Borders working regardless
      of religion tirelessly saving lives around the world.

      And millions – too many to mention
      Who are SOLVING PROBLEMS instead of
      sitting around praying toward empty skies to a deaf air pocket.

  5. Yeah, ‘religion’ is what the other guys do, not us! Yet all the while secularists are creating their own ‘private religions’ apart from the religionist over there. Thinking their individualistic creative agnostic or atheistic workings is a heroism believed unique enough to provide immunity to the normal limitations of human existence. The same problem that plagues ‘religion’ also plagues the carefully constructed ‘personal religions’. Each has a different version of what life ought to be, how to live, and so on. Each operates slightly different; both promise the same things; increase durability and self-perpetuation – an immortality formula. Of course when it comes to the issue of immortality everyone has the same self-righteous conviction and put forth diametrically opposed views with the same maddening certainty.

    Secularism as a human construct is just as susceptible to the trappings of moral relativism and demonizing the “other”, two approaches that have failed to make the world a more livable place. What secularist so conveniently fail to note is that the whole sale jettison of institutional religion over the decades in Europe, Russia, and China has only increase the level of violence in their regions of the world. Interestingly the ‘use of force’ by these secular Governments against religious groups or individuals was up (48%) in 2012, from previous 2011 figures (41%) in recent Pew Research Center study [http://www.pewforum.org/2014/01/14/religious-hostilities-reach-six-year-high/]. To somehow think that the ‘secularism’ of a country or its citizenry can exempt their involvement in the perpetuation of global suffering goes to hubris.

    • @Fisher,

      You paid no attention to the Pew Research.
      The research proves that RELIGION is a continuing problem for the world.

      1. ALL of the increase in violence toward the religious groups was from other religions. Buddhists vs. Christians, Muslims vs. Christians, etc… nothing new.

      2. NONE OF THE VIOLENCE is being perpetrated by Atheists or non-believers.

      3. WOMEN continue to suffer from persecution BY RELIGIOUS GROUPS.

      Atheism is not a religion.
      Religions are unfounded claims.

      Atheism is simply the non-belief in Gods.
      Wherever Atheism is strong, peace, happiness and prosperity follow.

      • @A-Max
        Yeah, I especially didn’t pay attention to these comments in the report…
        pg 14 – The study finds that the share of countries where some level of government interfered with worship or other religious practices increased to 74% in 2012, up from 69% in 2011 and 57% in the baseline year.

        pg 14 – Governments used force against religious groups or individuals in nearly half (48%) of the world’s countries in 2012, up from 41% in 2011 and 31% as of mid-2007.

        pg 28 – In Europe, the median score on the Government Restrictions Index rose from 2.2 in 2011 to 2.6 in 2012, rising just above the global median. Increases in government restrictions within the region included more reported limits on worship or religious practices, widespread harassment or intimidation of religious groups, violence against members of minority religious groups and restrictions on religious literature.

        No doubt the research indicates religious hostilities between religions has increased but the data is also clear that secular atheistic nation states such as Russia, China, France, Cuba, Greece, and Belgium scored in the higher percentile of hostilities against religion than previous years. With that type of distinction the peace, happiness, and prosperity you speak of just requires a bit more anthropolatry in the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Moa, Marx, and Bormann of the world.

        Nothing ‘religious’ about secular atheistic societies that mummified its leaders, Lenin & Mao, for public display in mausoleums as a permanent immorality-symbol. Nor, the pilgrimages taken to view the tombs of buried heroic leaders in the scared walls of the Kremlin necropolis, a hallowed place. It seems the more they try to make the earth alone a paradise, divorce of any religious dimension, the more desperate their revolutionary ‘homo heroica’ message and murderous actions became. There is no denying that secular atheistic societies have contributed to the historical body counts and will continue to do so.

        • @Fisher,

          You are completely wrong.

          You don’t seem to know what religion is. So when someone says ‘authoritarian regime’ you are lost. You have no clue that religion is the regime.

          “Execute them in front of me” JESUS (Luke 19:27)

        • @Fisher,

          “Governments used force against religious groups”

          Exactly, Dictatorial Authoritarian RELIGIOUS Governments are all about destroying inroads of other religions.

          Don’t tell me Stalin’s enforced worship of Lysenko’s Miracles was ATHEISM.

          Don’t tell me Mao’s enforced worship of Communist ‘heaven’ was ATHEISM.

          Don’t tell me worship of North Korean Dear Leader’s miracle birth full of birds singing in Korean is ATHEISM.

          What is it about people who can’t comprehend this?

          Atheism is the non belief in a god. Any God!
          Stalin as Czar claimed to be the intermediary between the people of Russia and God – that is the role of a Czar.
          Stalin, a seminarian, is numbered among the saints in Russian Orthodoxy where with a halo over his head on the icons. They are all over Russia today!

          Non of that is Atheism.

    • Religion is also a human construct. The reason why it is no longer relevant is because the current religions cannot adapt to the needs of today.

      What we see happening all over the world is that atheists/agnostics/secularists are building a new moral framework. This will conform to the facts of the world today and fulfills our current needs not those of the people 2000 years ago.

      When this happens, the current religions will be swept away in a few generations. The same happened with Christianity and Islam replacing the old naturist religions that were no longer adequate.

  6. Michael Glass

    I think that people here should bear in mind that the decline of religious observance is not just confined to the United States. Similar declines in religious observance have been happening in many other Western countries. Also it is important to note, as other commentators have pointed out, that there is no connection between a decline in religion and a decline in health and welfare of the people.

  7. How quaint, using a condensed/truncated y-axis to exaggerate the magnitude of a ‘decline’. If this were similarly posted about athiest/skeptic/humanist declines, etc, the monkey cage would be howling so loud they’d hear it in Palin-Land.

    Do re-post when you have a meaningful decline that doesn’t take half a century to make an actual national policy/political difference.

    BTW, I AM a Humanist/Progressive, but it’s Crap-Circle-Math like this that really ticks me off.

    • Tobin Grant

      I’ve published other data for Monkey Cage and I’ve known the editors there for twenty years; so, I know what they would like or not like. The key for ANY graph is to be clear. For these graphs, there’s about a 10 point drop in ten years, which is incredibly large given the previous stability over the previous years. Plus, 10% or so of the population (20-30 million people) leaving religion in a decade? That’s huge.

      The key, however, is that it’s not just one pattern. We see the same drop across five items. Actually, it’s across even more surveys that aren’t reported here but are in the original post on the great decline.

      • I’m so late to this but he’s right. Yes there is a decline, albeit in small increments over each year, but levels overall are still pretty high (and kind of still frightening really).

        I’ve worked in consumer marketing research for about a thousand years and it’s a bit of a no-no to truncate type of data like this. The real finding is that your metrics show a gradual decline but levels are still high — a full scale would have shown this. The charts you are showing exaggerate the drops when in reality, the decreases haven’t been as dramatic as your charts presently show. A full scale would have brought all of this into perspective. Use full scales next time, you’ll be better off.

        Overall still fascinating!

    • Krap Tacular

      I’m also late to the conversation. Anyone with half a brain will immediately see that the graphs are truncated and will be able to adjust to that in their mind. The fact is, a 10 point change in ANY statistic would be considered significant, no matter the time frame. It is enough to begin to see a pretty sure trend. just because you disagree with the format is not reason enough to disregard the content.

  8. Your graph “Decline of Membership” has an incorrect caption. It reads “Percentage of Americans who are not members of a church. . .” but it should read “who ARE members of a church. . . .”

  9. An ancient Sumarian priest would have devoted his entire life to the worship of Sumarian gods. As the centuries passed, his religion faded in obscurity. So you can argue he “wasted” his life in a sense.

    The funny thing is in the (perhaps) distant future people will regard Christians and think “Isn’t it quaint that people really believed in a guy named Jesus that supposedly rose from the dead?”

  10. These are all positives signs. I can’t wait for world where all religion is in the minority. Unfortunately, I won’t live to see it. I personally see it as unnecessary. I’m fine with others believing in w/e they want, but the unfortunately majority impacts my life with laws based on different moral compasses of a singular nature.

    It’ll be a great day when less religious views prevail. Hopefully voting every presidential cycle will be made mandatory as well. Tired of the of the far right or left ruling every debate. It might also make corporate bribery less impactful. I won’t hold my breath on that.

  11. Larry Summers

    These charts show a drop of 10% across the board over a period of 20 years. That means that this trend won’t be important unless it continues for 60 years.

  1. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  2. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  3. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  4. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  5. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.