A brand new study released today (May 12) shows that a large number of Americans have stopped identifying themselves as Christians. The number is on the rise, not just among younger generations, but among people of all ages, races, genders and diplomas.
The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center, reveals that many adults have left Christianity behind in recent years in favor of atheism, agnosticism or a complete and total lack of religious orientation. Infect, researcher inform us that the number of American Christians has dropped by five million (7.8 per cent) since 2007.
At the polar opposite end of the spectrum, the number of “nones”, people who do not believe in religion or people who are not affiliated with any religion in particular, has seen an increase of approximately 23 per cent since 2007. Out of all of them, 31 per cent claim to be atheists or agnostics.
After Alan Cooperman, director of religion research at the Pew Research Center, and his colleagues interviewed more than 35.000 Americans over the phone, he gave a statement summing up the phenomenon: “The country is becoming less religious as a whole, and it’s happening across the board”.
While one theory for the sudden drop in Christianity is the coming into adulthood of the millennial generation, well known for being non-religious and globally oriented, the results also show that many former Christians from the Silent Generation, Baby Bloomers and Generation X have abandoned their religious orientation.
The study does mention that millennials are becoming even less religious as they get older. In 2007, when Pew last conducted a Religious Landscape Survey, only 25 per cent of those born between 1981 and 1989 did not identify themselves as religious people. The number grew to 34 per content in the latest survey.
Alan Cooperman and Greg Smith, directors of research at the Pew Research Center, agree that millennials are not likely to become more religious as they get older, with Cooperman explaining: “It’s not that they start unaffiliated and become religious. In fact, it’s the opposite”.
Catholics may have suffered the greatest decline of all religious groups – there are about 3 million less Catholics in the US today than there were in 2007. While about a third of Americans say they were raised Catholic, 41 per cent of them no longer identify with that label into adulthood. The religious affiliation has lost more than 1 in 8 of its former members and only benefits from a conversion rate on 2 per cent.
Jews and Buddhists had the same percentage they did in 2007, while the Muslim or Hindu has seen a slight increase.
Another important factor that could explain the fall of religion is the increasing racial and ethnic diversity – 41 per cent of Catholics, 24% of evangelical Protestants and 14% of mainline Protestants are now minorities.
The decline in religious affiliation is also believed to have led to an increase in religious intermarriage. 39 per cent (4 in 10) Americans who have gotten married since 2010 said they are in religiously mixed marriages. A 20 per cent increase compared to those who got married before 1960. Out of all of them, about 1 in 5 participants confirmed that they are either Christian spouses who married a religiously unaffiliated partner, or religiously unaffiliated partners who married a Christian spouse.
America is still one of the most Christian countries in the world, with almost 70 per cent (roughly seven in ten) identifying themselves as Christian, however
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