Bucking previous trends, survey finds growth of the religiously unaffiliated slowing

Sounds like somewhat discouraging news to me. Positive in that the percentage has grown - but not good that the growth is slowing.



By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – After years of marked growth, the size of Americans who identify with no religion slowed in 2012, according to a study released Thursday.

Since 2008, the percentage of Americans who identify as religious "nones" has grown from 14.6% to 17.8% in 2012, according to the Gallup survey. That number, which grew nearly one percentage point every year from 2008 to 2011, grew only 0.3% last year – from 17.5% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2012 – making it the smallest increase over the past five years.

This study contrasts with headlines from previous studies on religious “nones,” including a 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that found the group was the fastest growing "religious" group in America and that one in five Americans now identify with no religion.

“Although this ‘rise of the nones’ has increased dramatically over recent decades, the rate of increase slowed last year, suggesting the possibility that there may be a leveling off in this measure in the years ahead,” reports the Gallup study, which is made up of more than 350,000 interviews.

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says these results suggest “that religion may be maintaining itself or even increasing in the years ahead.”

“Our current ability to look at it over five years with these big surveys suggests the possibility that the growth [of the nones] may not be inexorable,” Newport says.

Read the rest here.

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Replies to This Discussion

No, but there is always a chance we could be the last culture to collapse, especially if we go out with a bang.  But I agree with you that the future is unclear.  We can't predict even what we can't predict.  We just have to do our best for ourselves and our children as far as we can see it.  (By which I mean "future generations", not our offspring specifically.)

I agree! "do our best for ourselves and our children as far as we can see it.  (By which I mean "future generations", not our offspring specifically.)"

I think of my five great-grandchildren and wonder what future they face and if they will have the intelligence, courage and strength to get through the coming turmoil. They are great kids and their mother and father are doing a great job. Be prepared ... oh I reveal being a cub scout leader, and be flexible. 

I suspect the growth rate is slowing for the same reason economies cannot sustain growth forever. At some point you will run out of people who are willing to consider reason over religion.

That is not necessarily a reason to be glum though: remember we all die, and the religious will gradually be replaced.

Moreover, all polls are by their nature biased: they can only reflect the answers of those who are willing to respond. It also depends on how the questions in the poll were contrived.

I am hoping that rational people will grow in the population. Even if the growth is slow as long as it is growth.

With the deadlines of Climate Destabilization bearing down on us, I no longer think in terms of positive very long term trends. If we're not collectively rational enough to stop destroying our only home ASAP, "long term trend" for humanity becomes a misnomer.

What is the old bromide? Hope for the best and plan for the worst. 

Gallup is a notoriously conservative organization. Notice how their spokesman relishes the idea that religion may be regaining ground, a conclusion that is not at all supported by this survey's results.

It's true.  I have an anti-feminist, hyper-xian friend who works for them, and she loves the culture there.

In this article, there is a statement, " lack of belief in deities" is too weak for me. I don't lack anything except evidence. I refute the claim of existence of deities; there appears to be only third person evidence, Bronze Age writings and anecdotal claims without valid and reliable verification.

Sure, the term atheist has been demonized for as long as the word exists; it is good term, valid, and unambiguous. I like it. I confess to being an anti-theist in face of those who would put binders on me. In the words of anti-GMO: 

Thank for the three stages of truth Joan - i like that.

Thanks Joan.  I like the 3 stages of truth.


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