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, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, 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. (Explore the data with our interactive database tool.)So the non-religious and the non-Christians outnumber Evangelical Protestants? Catholics and Mainline Protestants continue to bleed membership. Well, based on bills pending throughout Republican America, I can assume this is because Christians are under attack by Godless liberals and teh ghays. Or it could be because of Republican America and all their bills pending. Liberal blogs always make jokes during Presidential campaigns about how any Republican gaffes are actually "good news for Republicans," but these numbers have to be considered bad news for Republicans, except amongst the innumerate. Let's consider the groups Republicans traditionally do well with: rural folks, whites, the rich, the middle class, religious people, married people and the elderly. As a percentage of the population, rural folks, whites, the rich, the middle class, religious people and married people are all shrinking, and while the elderly are increasing as percentage of the population, their support for Republicans and their likelihood of dying are directly proportional. However, the one major factor benefiting Republicans is that the groups listed above are also the most likely to vote. If the folks in the growing demographics voted at the same rate as the Republican-leaning population, Republicans would be on the Endangered Species list (but would probably still be politicking to abolish it). The one thing going for Republicans amongst population subsets with increasing numbers is that their support amongst these groups can only increase.
To be sure, the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans – roughly seven-in-ten – continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith.1 But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds 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.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Organized Religion in Decline
Pew Research Center: