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

Thank you Chris for the Article link. I appreciate it.

Thanks for the article Chris.  I'm usually a pessimist, but on this subject, I'm an optimist.  My guess is that science will eventually win over superstition.  Not in my lifetime, but probably only in another 100 years.

I would note though that in keeping with the movie Idiocracy, the intellectually gifted tend to have far fewer children than those who are not, and those who are not are far more likely to cling to religious beliefs.

I suspect, Steph, that we aren't going to breed ourselves out of this one (and there has been too much breeding already). For the above-average, the parenthetical statement is obvious. For the religious, they want Armageddon anyway, and a last-stand over dwindling resources is as good as any reason.

I agree James - we aren't going to breed ourselves out of this one. The religious appear to have more children.

Losing Our Religion: The Growth Of The 'Nones'

Nones, Pew Research Center 2007-2012 

Nones, Gallop Poll, 1950 - 2010

These are the most recent I could find. 

Excellent material, as always.  Thank you Joan!

"Reply" button working this time. 

Thanks Humble Pie. 

Thank you Joan for the wonderful Graphs showing the Gallup Polls - I appreciate it. It looks as if we are growing from the graphs. That's good news!

Yes, Steph, the numbers of non-believers grows faster than religions. The problem is, when society is chaotic, people often turn to a simplistic solution of religion, hoping to pray their problems away. Chaos requires thinking and understanding the causes of such chaos, the options that have the highest probability of finding solutions, and taking actions to work toward possible change.
Sadly, the present problems may have no solutions other than to prepare for radical change. If we only had to deal with recessions and depressions, we could handle that with some intelligent decisions. With climate change, that is Mother Nature at work. She is pissed.
Packing Tips For Surviving Unruly Regions of the World


We got a huge boost from the "new atheists" and their books in the 00s, and it's to be expected that the effects of that would start to diminish over time.  Certainly there don't seem to be as many blockbuster atheist books out there as there used to be.  (plenty of books, but best sellers?  no.)

On the plus side, the religious backlash has been encouraging; they seem to be geniunely worried.  But we cannot let them take the initiative, or this will turn out to be a flash in the pan.

Well, maybe that just means it's YOUR turn to write a best seller!  :D

I would like to just tell my story.  Not sure anyone would publish it as a book, but I bet there are plenty of people who would benefit from hearing my journey if it were published.  Atheism needs a more human face.  Telling our own stories is a way to give it that.

I can't even get people to read my blog!  Best seller, indeed!





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