The proportion of Americans saying they have no religious affiliation is rising significantly, while the proportion identifying as Christian is sharply dropping, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center released October 17, 2019.
Pew said that the percentage of American adults surveyed who describe their religious identify as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” now stands at 26 percent, up from 17 percent in 2009. Those describing themselves as Christian now stands at 65 percent, down from 77 percent in 2009.
According to Pew, all categories of the religiously unaffiliated—often referred to as Nones—grew. It said self-described atheists now account for 4 percent of U.S. adults, up from 2 percent in 2009. Agnostics account for 5 percent, up from 3 percent in 2009. Those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” now compose 17 percent of the population, up from 12 percent in 2009.
The results reinforce several other recent surveys finding that those who might be described as Nones now account for more than a quarter of the nation’s adult population as people disaffiliate from organized religions. Both Protestant and Catholic ranks are losing population share, Pew reports. The trends hold up in all four geographical regions of the country.
There is also a wide generational gap. Older people tend to self-identify as Christian at a far higher rate than younger people. “Indeed,” says the Pew report, “there are as many Millennials who say they ‘never’ attend religious services (22%) as there are who say they go at least once a week (22%).” Women are still slightly more religious than men, but “the share of ‘nones’ among women has risen by 10 percentage points since 2009—similar to the increase among men.”
The latest Pew survey was conducted by random-digit-dial polling on the telephone (both cell phones and landlines) in 2018 and 2019. Sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. Full details and charts are available at https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/.