Seven in 10 Americans Are Very or Moderately Religious


But Protestant population is shrinking as “unbranded” religion grows

PRINCETON, NJ — Sixty-nine percent of American adults are very or moderately religious, based on self-reports of the importance of religion in their daily lives and attendance at religious services. Within that group, 40% are very religious, meaning that they attend religious services regularly and they say religion is important in their daily lives

These data are based on more than 320,000 interviews conducted by Gallup between Jan. 2 and Nov. 30 of this year. Similar data going back to 2008 form the basis of the new book God Is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America.

(The wording of the two questions used to compile the measure of religiousness are available on page 2.)

Religiousness is distributed quite unequally across various subgroups and segments of the U.S. population. Key findings further discussed in the book include:

  • Religiousness increases with age, albeit not in a smooth path but rather in stages. Americans are least religious at age 23 and most religious at age 80.
  • Women are significantly more religious than men, at all ages and within all race and ethnic groups. This is not an American anomaly; women are more religious than men in all but a small number of the more than 100 countries around the world in which Gallup has measured religion.
  • Blacks are more religious than any other race or ethnic group in America.
  • Mormons are the most religious of any specific religious group in America; Jews are the least.
  • Religiousness is highest in Southern states, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
  • Religiousness is lowest in states located in the two northern corners of the country, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
  • Upscale Americans are less religious than those with lower levels of education and income, but better-off Americans attend religious services just as often.
  • There are substantial political differences in religiousness. Republicans are significantly more likely to say that religion is important in their daily lives and more likely to attend religious services regularly than either independents or Democrats.
  • Blacks are a major exception to the significant correlation between religiousness and Republicanism. They are at the same time the most religious and the most Democratic race and ethnic group in America.

Written By: Gallup
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  1. I think the full title of the book should be “God is Alive and Well: and living in America”

  2. However, it’s good to see that 1 in 3 Americans (31%) are “Nonreligious”;  that’s better than I thought, much better. 

  3. msloane
    I think the full title of the book should be “God is Alive and Well: and living in America”

    I would suggest the full title of the book should be:

    “God is Alive and Well: and living in the heads of Americans”

    I don’t think the figures are particularly surprising.

  4. Liars the whole lot of them! There is a difference between talking the talking and walking the walk. What they say and do is totally different.

    Very religious 10%
    moderately religious 50%
    nonreligious 40% (20% of which is atheist/agnostic)

  5. meaningless question in america surely? the “moderately religious” will include unknown numbers of closet atheists and “nonreligious” is too emotive an answer for many nonreligious to admit to. need’s another option “bit like CofE” including those who attend church for xmas, weddings etc, avoid theological debates due to lack of genuine opinion, belief system can be summed up as: “i dunno, gotta be something out there hasn’t there? i mean scientists don’t know everything yeah? bit like ufo’s and stuff”, personal philosophy: there’s probably a god who expects lots of praise and stuff but the blokes in dresses have got that covered until i can find time…

  6. How many of the wealthy who attend church do so just for show? Or to reassure themselves that they are “good” people?

  7. “The God virus is alive in the diseased brains of SOME Americans” 

    One figure is very surprising- 30% non-religious. And very encouraging.

  8. Is it just me or is the conclusion that, since older Americans are more religious, Americans will become MORE religious as they age over the next 20 years, just a REALLY DUMB conclusion?? (See under Religion May Be Set to Become Increasingly Important in America.)

    Seems to me it’s more likely that the current older generation was apt to have been brought up in more strict religious environments, and it’s something they maintain for a lifetime.  People who are currently middle-aged are not likely to BECOME religious, generally speaking.   It isn’t AGE that makes people religious, it’s the beliefs instilled at youth.   It’s too late to recruit the middle-aged now, and the next generation rejects religion even more.

    Immigration should have more influence on the growth of religion in America than the aging population would, but it seems even Hispanic Catholic immigrants don’t make much of a change.  And “Americans have been migrating to more religious rather than less religious states over the past decade”??  Is this based on the observation that religious types are more likely to pack up and move to states where they feel their beliefs won’t be challenged so much – meaning they are less tolerant and want to be amongst their own kind?

    Unless some nut-job decides to blow us all up so we have to start back where we left off in the dark ages, religion is on its way out.

  9. I would agree it does seem a very strange conclusion, until you read that the article has been written by Frank Newport, the author of the book Gallup are trying to sell. I guess just from the title that the book has a particular audience/customer in mind.

  10. I use to trust that I could insult someone and there was a 90% chance I was right. Now, this screws up everything.  

  11. Now, here is the problem with polls – how can they say that 7 out of 10 people in U.S. are very or moderately religious when they didn’t ask every single person in the U.S.? I, for one, was not asked this question. I have never been contacted for any poll regarding  my religious views. This shows that these numbers are not reliable.

  12. I agree with you. I live in a small town that is, unfortunately, full of closed minded religious types over a certain age (usually 55 and up) because most people have not ventured forth to see what’s what in the rest of the country let alone the rest of the world. However, my 91 year old grandmother says that there are less and less people going to her church. There used to be numerous churches in the town but more than half have closed because they didn’t have the money to keep them up and running. As more of the senior citizens die, there are not many people that are replacing them as church goers. Since, as I said, most people who live here stay here, it’s not as if they are moving elsewhere and practicing their religions.

  13. I am fortunate enough to live in the Northeast, and many of my good friends who attend church regularly are open-minded and accepting of different views. Many of the northeastern states also boast more well-regarded education than a lot of other states (particularly the South), in terms of funding and efficacy.

    The United States suffered a tremendous setback in the fifties, when the Cold War was in full swing, and opposing the ‘godless commies’ was a matter of gov’t propaganda. “In God We Trust” on paper currency and “One Nation Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance weren’t added until the late fifties, for instance. Sadly, this phenomenon has experienced a renaissance with the ‘War on Terror’. This same propaganda has lead to a vehement dislike of anything that smacks of socialism as well (I won’t sidetrack the conversation on this, but looking at the American economy right now proves how deeply this propaganda was ingrained).

    The good news is that information spreads quickly these days, and the younger generation (as evidenced by these polls) is beginning to apply more critical thinking to what we’ve been told, in addition to having access to other schools of thought.

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