"Empty pews" by Jason Scott / CC BY 2.0

Organized religion is losing its followers

Apr 23, 2019

By Jennifer Rubin

CNN reports, “For the first time ‘No Religion’ has topped a survey of Americans’ religious identity, according to a new analysis by a political scientist. The non-religious edged out Catholics and evangelicals in the long-running General Social Survey.” Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Baptist pastor, found that 23.1% of Americans identify as “No Religion.” In the survey, 23 percent say they are Catholic and 22.5 percent say they are evangelical Christians.

For comparison, in 1972 only 5 percent said “No Religion.” (“The meteoric rise of religious “nones” began in the early 1990s and has grown 266% since 1991,” Burge found.) Since 1972, those who identify with one of the mainline Protestant denominations have gone from 28 percent to 11 percent, and Catholics have declined from 27 percent to 23 percent. By contrast, evangelicals have gone from 17 percent to 23 percent. The nones category includes people other than atheists, including “agnostics, the spiritual, and those who are no specific organized religion in particular.”

Collectively, those who identify with some religion still greatly outnumber those with no religion. But the numbers do put into perspective how many Americans find no home in organized religion.

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