Tuesday, March 17, 2009

America Is Becoming Less Christian, Less Religious

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

The results of a study, which began in 1990, reveal that the percentage of people in America with no religion is growing, while the percentage of people who call themselves Christian is shrinking. In 1990, 8.2 percent of Americans claimed no religion. In 2008, that number had grown to 15 percent. The category of "no religion" includes atheists, agnostics and those who claim no religious identity. Other findings of the survey were:

* Sixty-nine percent of the population believes in a personal God.
* In 1990, Oregon led the nation in "no religion" (18%), but in 2008 the leader, with 34 percent, was Vermont.
* Fifteen and Eight tenths percent of the population identifies themselves as Baptist, down from 19.3 percent in 1990.
* The percentage of people who call themselves in some way "Christian" has dropped more than 11 percent since 1990. This coincides with an 11 percent increase in those who have no religion or have chosen a non-Christian religion.
* Islam and Eastern religions have had slight growth in the percentage of the population (each under 1%) since 1990.
* The percentage of the population that is part of mainline Protestant denominations has dropped from 18.7 percent in 1990 to 12.9 percent in 2008.

"More than ever before, people are just making up their own stories of who they are. They say, 'I'm everything. I'm nothing. I believe in myself,'" says Barry Kosmin, survey co-author. Kosmin also concluded from the 1990 data that many saw God as a "personal hobby," and that the U.S.A. is "a greenhouse for spiritual sprouts." Today, he says, "religion has become more like a fashion statement, not a deep personal commitment for many."

But the survey also revealed some encouraging trends. The percentage of Americans who identify with non-mainline Protestant denominations has grown slightly over the past 18 years from 2.6 percent to 3.1 percent. Also, Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations, that represented 3.2 percent of the population in 1990, now make up 3.5 percent of the population.

The American Religious Identification Survey was based on 113,000 interviews in 1990, 50,000 in 2001 and 54,000 in 2008. [USAToday.com]

1 comment:

Jinx McHue said...

The way neo-atheists talk, you'd think that 15% was all atheists. In fact, the true percentage of atheists is quite small.