Study: Sharp Decline In Americans With Faith Or Religion Affiliations

350px-God2-Sistine_ChapelThere is another study showing the decline of religious beliefs in the United States — and a considerable generational gap. The study published in the American Journal of Sociology shows 68% Americans aged 65 and over said they had no doubt God existed but only 45% of young adults, aged 18-30, agreed with that position. Likewise, 41% of people 70 and older said they attend church services at least once a month, compared to 18% of people 60 and below.

We have previously discussed the rise of agnostics and atheists around the world. While the United States has remained one of the most religious countries, the trend has been clearly moving toward a less religious and more secular society.

The study also found 94 percent of Americans born before 1935 claim a religious affiliation. For the generation born after 1975, that number drops over twenty percent to 71 percent.

Indeed, as we discussed earlier the fastest growing religious group in the United States is “no religion.”

Given the long history of faith-based politics in the United States, the obvious and continuing trend away of religion is likely to have a pronounced impact in some areas. However, the rise of agnostic and atheist citizens does not necessarily translate to more liberals as opposed to conservatives in areas like the economy or foreign affairs.

What do you think?

55 thoughts on “Study: Sharp Decline In Americans With Faith Or Religion Affiliations”

  1. Oh, PhillyT,

    I did not give you a link because I just figured you would just ignore it anyway. And as for the things I said, I think maybe the truth is a defense to all that! 🙂

    Anyway, here is what I pulled up in like maybe 12 seconds after your original post went in way up there:

    One excerpt:

    From the beginning of the Abrahamic faiths and of Greek philosophy, religion and morality have been closely intertwined. This is true whether we go back within Greek philosophy or within Christianity and Judaism and Islam. The present entry will not try to step beyond these confines, since there are other entries on Eastern thought (see, for example, the entries on Ethics in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Ethics). The entry proceeds chronologically, giving greatest length to the contemporary period. It cannot, within the present compass, aspire to be comprehensive. But it will be able to describe the main options as they have occurred historically. The purpose of proceeding historically is to substantiate the claim that morality and religion have been inseparable until very recently, and that our moral vocabulary is still deeply infused with this history. Since there are historically so many different ways to see the relation, a purely schematic or typological account is not likely to succeed as well. The entry will not try to enter deeply into the ethical theories of the individual philosophers mentioned, since this encyclopedia already contains individual entries about them; it will focus on what they say about the relation between morality and religion.

    It is an interesting read. If I was you, I think I would just admit that I maybe misspoke and those issues are related. Or blame it on alcohol. I would definitely would not just be stubborn and dig a deeper hole for myself. Because everybody screws up sometimes.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  2. Squeeky, I’m surprised you don’t get banned more for your abusive comments. The mods must really like you, or they are terrified that you will become your namesake and hunt them down in a psychotic frenzy. In fact I took several courses in philosophy, medical ethics and comparative religion. And btw, ROTFLMAO is not much of an argument, but as I’ve noted before, regressives on the board tend to use it when they lose it, so thanks for that!

    As for Justice Brewer, it appears that his writing was too far afield for even Scalia, believe it or not.

    “Justice Antonin Scalia, referring to the holding in the Holy Trinity decision as the “prototypical case” in which a judge follows the intent of the legislature rather than the text of the statute, wrote that this was in opposition to his judicial philosophy of textualism. The textualist position holds that courts should follow the text of a law rather than attempt to read exceptions into the law in accordance with the legislative intent. Scalia has thus criticized the principle of the Holy Trinity case as “nothing but an invitation to judicial lawmaking.””


    “In Public Citizen v. Department of Justice, 491 U.S. 440 (1989),[6] Justice Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice O’Connor, rejected this approach to determining Congressional intent. Kennedy wrote:

    “The central support for the Court’s ultimate conclusion that Congress did not intend the law to cover Christian ministers is its lengthy review of the ‘unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation,’ and which were taken to prove that it could not ‘be believed that a Congress of the United States intended to make it a misdemeanor for a church of this country to contract for the services of a Christian minister residing in another nation.’ I should think the potential of this doctrine to allow judges to substitute their personal predilections for the will of the Congress is so self-evident from the case which spawned it as to require no further discussion of its susceptibility to abuse.””

    We know from history that justices get it wrong. Most famously, Oliver Wendell Holmes, a supporter of eugenics, wrote the majority opinion in Buck v Bell, allowing the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of women in America. That program was the foundation upon which the Nazis expanded to do their “special program”. I’ll just leave it there.

  3. What is really interesting is that all the dust up over “religion” keeps circling around a term which, in this thread, has no agreed upon definition. There are numerous and divergent expressions of symptoms and outcomes. However, the whole of the discussion is room temperature jello.

    The word religion is a term borrowed from the Latin for “to bind.”

    Now if one claims religion is a version or application of spirituality, the assertion begs the question ” what is spirituality?”

    As previously mentioned, a professor of religious studies once provided a definition
    “religion is ‘ones’ pervasive orientation towards life.” ( I substituted “ones” for “mankind’s” to avoid a segue into a PC discussion.)

    Another similar approach:
    “Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, ethics, and social organisation that relate humanity to an order of existence.”

    The latter approach is a tertiary definition following ones which incorporated specific references to relationship with divine beings or a being.

    Isn’t the assertion that needing to rid the world of religion actually just another outworking of a religion? A chasing of the tail or even a spiraling metasperspective?

    Aren’t Darwinism or natural selection or survival of the fittest or Sagan’s assertion that “Creation (the universe)is all there is, was and ever will be” all religions?

    If the existing and observed universe is the primal entity devoid of any creator (writ small, large or multiple), then keeping the ill, infirm, hungry and the like is apostasy. The efforts to feed the world is adding consumers which are destroying the environment, and climate change is the universe’s movement to correct the problem by reducing the human footprint. To fight it is to fight the very principle of the fittest surviving. Instead, according to the universal evidence and principle, we who are able should embrace the cataclysm and let the lessers perish.

    Where do “we” get the sense of being humanitarian? Certainly not from nature which is actually trying to kill us off, and we spend billions and precious resources trying to provide a few extra months to terminal patients and babies which would of died of their defects while slaughtering perfectly healthy fetuses.

    So yes…let’s do divest ourselves of any concept of divine inspiration (spirituality) and stop this nonsense of keeping everybody alive as long as we can. A true atheist who subscribes to altruistic principles is an oxymoron in the flesh. Read about Sartre’s conversations on his death bed.

    The wolf pack is nature at work when a member gets older, or becomes the omega or a pup born deformed. The oh so cute dolphin?? mmmm…not so cute in the wild. Then there is the female mantis…watch out guys….no chance for another dalliance with other “chicks.” Even ants have invasions and “no quarter given” wars. It’s in their nature, “it’s what they do.” Just love some of those Geico commercials.

  4. This post is a magnet for atheists. They tend to be the most angry and smug people on earth. South Park did a hilarious show on smug secular liberals, making smug like a killer smog w/ George Clooney’s smugness creating a perfect storm of smug alerts from LA to SF.

  5. We are not, never have been, and never should be a “Christian” nation. THANK GOD! I’m a Unitarian Universalist, converted in 1956, Pete Seeger converted to UU in the 1980s, remained one till his death a few months ago. We both became UUs (I departed a seriously psychotic Fundie Protestant church) because while UUs may not talk the fancy talk, nearly all of us want to practice the ethics that Jesus taught. I knew I’d chosen the right faith when, soon after I started attending Unitarian Fellowship, most of us were arrested at our Southern University for a completely legal civil rights petition! Now we’re involved in Black Lives Matter. Pete wrote a clever parody of “That Old Time Religion” which should make anyone think, and it’s been around the internet so that verses have been added by others. Here’s the version I have:

    Pete Seeger (et al)

    Gimme that old time religion,
    Gimme that old time religion,
    Gimme that old time religion–
    It’s good enough for me.

    We’ll give trinkets to a shaman
    Even though he’s just a layman,
    He can keep the bears away, man–
    He’s good enough for me.

    Let’s do dances to bring water,
    Prepare animals for slaughter,
    Sacrifice a son or daughter–
    It’s good enough for me.

    We will bow with the Egyptians,
    In tombs to put our crypts in
    All covered with inscriptions–
    It’s good enough for me.

    I’ll arise at early morning,
    When the sun-disk gives me warning
    That the Aten age is dawning–
    It’s good enough for me.

    I’ll spend Solstice at old Stonehenge,
    Lying prone upon a stone bench,
    Making whoopee with a crone wench–
    It’s good enough for me.

    I will worship Zarathustra,
    Gonna sacrifice a rooster,
    I’m a Zarathustra booster–
    He’s good enough for me.

    I’m in love with Aphrodite
    Cause she wears a see-through nightie,
    Even though she’s somewhat flighty–
    She’s good enough for me.

    We will dance with those old druids
    As they drink fermented fluids,
    Waltzing naked though the woo-ids–
    They’re good enough for me.

    Yes, old Odin we will follow
    In fighting we will wallow,
    Till we wind up in Valhalla—
    That’s good enough for me.

    Climb a temple with a Maya,
    And when you climb up higher
    Your blood will sanctify ya–
    It’s good enough for me.

    Gimme that old time religion,
    Gimme that old time religion,
    Gimme that old time religion–
    It’s good enough for me!

    1. Jenny Hanniver wrote: “We are not, never have been, and never should be a “Christian” nation.”

      I guess you never read the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States where Justice Brewer said we are a Christian Nation. Justice Brewer later wrote a book called, “The United States: A Christian Nation.” It explains in detail in what ways we are a Christian Nation and in what ways we are not. I think I will side with Justice Brewer on this issue. His arguments are forceful.

  6. @PhillyT

    You said, “Anyone who has taken even an introductory level philosophy class knows that religion has nothing whatsoever to do with ethics, morals, or justice. Never has, never will.”

    ROTFLMAO!!! That is probably the dumbest thing I have ever heard! If someone did a list of “Stupid Things People Say!”, this would lead off the list!

    Have you ever actually taken a philosophy course? Is English your first language? Are you commenting under the “influence”??? Have you ever used the word, “ethics” in another sentence before this one? Same with “morals” and “justice.”

    Whew! My sides are still aching! Thanks for the chuckle!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. In a world of ever escalating economic, social and political chaos could an oasis of sanity be taking hold? Religion is a political tool. It’s about mind control. Spirituality – the feeling of being at one with the creator and the universe – doesn’t merely disdain an interpreter, it can’t abide one.

  8. Article 11, Treaty of Tripoli:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims); and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    Anyone who has taken even an introductory level philosophy class knows that religion has nothing whatsoever to do with ethics, morals, or justice. Never has, never will.

  9. @bklynguy

    I don’t hate [illegal] immigrants. In fact, I have a lot of respect for the Hispanic types! They are generally very hard working, family oriented, Christian, and have good attitudes and morals. I don’t even think of them as being a different race. I would much rather hire them than your average black person. Who way too often has a very crappy attitude, loose morals, and screwed up family situations with thug relatives.

    BUT, the blacks are Americans and I think we owe it to them to hire them first, and in fact start making the lazy, shiftless, goof-offs work instead of wallowing around soaking up various welfare benefits and causing mayhem.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  10. Jonathan Turley wisely writes: “(T)he obvious and continuing trend away of religion is likely to have a pronounced impact in some areas.”

    Certainly true.

    For example: the area of the decline of Western society.

    Or the area of whether that society survives at all.

  11. Squeaky, you are no true Christian. Your hatred of immigrants and your willingness to believe lies told about them belies everything Jesus taught about love and humanity. In particular, check out what He had to say about the Good Samaritan, the “illegal aliens ” of His time.

  12. In answer to the closing question, if you want a reasonable idea of what a non-religious US might look like, look to the UK. The UK used to occupy the position the US has now, as the undisputed greatest military and economic power in the world. The UK also had really ugly religious clashes between Catholics and Anglicans, bloodier but otherwise similar to US clashes between the fundamentalist right and main stream Protestants.

    The UK still has pretensions to great power status, but it has gone beyond religion as a significant political force; you will seldom hear British politicians talk about religion. However, that has not killed conservatism (note that the Overton window is much further left in the UK, so a British conservative is almost socialist by American standards).

  13. Number One: Monotheism is probably mankind’s worst invention — and I say “mankind,” because it was invented by men.
    Number Two: Religion is a means to herd people into manipulable units, be it a congregation, a monastery, a religion-based brothel, or an “educational” institution. It is also used to exploit the herd by extracting money, while allowing the hierarchy in charge to live off the donations, and enriching the hierarchy’s lives and temples while enhancing their individual and collective “glory.”
    Number Three: All religions are based on mythology: the Greek and Roman pantheons, the ancient “gods” that “demanded” human or animal sacrifices through brutal means, the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic monotheism, and the various household and commercial gods and messengers of other religions worldwide.
    Number Four: The ultimate effect of religion is that it divides people, rather than uniting them.
    Number Five: A plus for religion is that it has been a patron of great artists and artisans, through the ages.

  14. @DakotaMark

    I read something a few years ago, and now I can not find it again. But to the best of my memory, it was from a French existentialist type, who said, that he was all in favor of atheism and supported atheists, and was against the church, and all in favor of anti-nationalism, and supported anti-nationalists, and several other things that were and are fashionable among the intelligentsia. . .and then when then Nazis came in, he didn’t have any ability left to become mad about it. There was just nothing left to fight for.

    I may be off. It may have been a Hungarian, and Russian invaders. I don’t remember exactly, but that is why I don’t think leaving our religion behind will end well. Some people believe that men’s reason will supplant it, but I haven’t seen much evidence that “reason” works all that well, either, Because “reason” will usually be trumped by emotion.

    At any rate, I will probably be long dead by the time the entropy catches up to America.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. From reading your comment above and your previous comments I can understand why reason doesn’t appeal to you.

      I am curious about your choice of a username so similar to the name of the follower of Charles Manson who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1979. What do you find appealing about Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme?

  15. Right-wing religious organizations (and preachers) who support Republican politicians who advocate the repeal of Obamacare (which would literally KILL tens of thousands of American men, women, children, babies, and fetuses PER YEAR) are destroying the credibility of Christianity in general. Jesus Christ’s entire ministry was based on following the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself principle (Matthew 22:37-40). Those right-wing preachers are promoting policies that are the OPPOSITE of the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself principle while FALSELY claiming to represent Jesus Christ (or God as revealed to us by Jesus Christ). In other words, they are LIARS and in effect “antichrists.” So it is no wonder why “organized religion” in America has been declining significantly in recent years. Those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” should have their credentials as “Christians” PUBLICALLY CHALLANGED ACCORDINGLY, because THEY are PUBLICALLY destroying loyalty to the fundamental principles of Christianity!

  16. It’s been estimated that there are around 10,000 Christian sects in North America. Where’s the unity Christians claim?

    Religions aren’t tax exempt in the USA unless they apply for a 501(C)(3) exemption which comes with rules prohibiting them from participating in political campaigns supporting any candidate. When the religions who violate the rules are caught, they claim that they are being persecuted. They can participate if they wish but they must pay their taxes if they do. The ruled apply to all 501(C)(3) non-profit organizations not just to religions. Religious organizations do get a pass on one of the exemption’s rules though, They don’t have to open their books to auditing like the other organizations. We are forced to accept their claim of being non-profit.

    Regarding the comment about war, it’s clear that modern wars by American forces are the result of the very high profits made by the Military Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.

    I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church from childhood but abandoned that and all religions in my early teens when reason began to overtake my childhood indoctrination. I faced considerable opposition from society for my views but times are changing in that respect. America’s youth has more freedom to express their views today. As they mature, religion will continue its decline here as it has done in much of Europe. That is a good thing.

  17. I get those surveys all the time and the problem with them is that they ONLY ask about RELIGION and prayer and never about pure spirituality. Everyone I know is aligned with a spiritual existence that has nothing to do with organized religion. Just go to FB and see all the groups for spirituality devoid of religion…there are thousands and thousands. The false assumption is…if you don’t align with a religion you’re atheist or agnostic.

  18. Religion is the opiate of the people. Monsanto is the opiate of the insects. Never the Twain shall meet. Not at the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers nor in North Korea. But if you are gonna spray for bugs then please spray for pedophile priests. Tell that Pope fellow to go back to Argentina. I favor cutting off all television on Sunday so that we do not have to see those dorks up on the alter as we race through the channels.

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