The Number Americans With No Religious Affiliation Is Rising, Poll Says
Poll finds 23 percent of all Americans have forsaken religion altogether
The number of Americans with no religious affiliation is rising, according to a 2013 Harris Poll that surveyed 2,250 American adults.
The poll found that 23 percent of all Americans have forsaken religion altogether.
In 2015, Pew Research Center poll reported that 34 to 36 percent of millennials are 'nones,' meaning have no religious affiliation, corroborating with the 23 percent figure.
These figures were a dramatic increase from 2007, where only 16 percent of Americans said they had no religious affiliations.
These numbers translate to an increase from 36.6 million to 55.8 million people without religious affiliation, or 'nones.'
The 71 percent of Americans who identified as Christian in the Pew poll, is still a significant voting block, more substantial than Jews (4.7 million), Muslims (2.2 million) and Buddhists (1.7 million) combined (8.6 million), and comparable to politically powerful Christian sects such as Evangelical (25.4 percent) and Catholic (20.8 percent).
The shift away from religion could be seen as concerning, or beneficial, depending whose government is structured to discourage catch basins of power from building up and spilling over into people's private lives.
But it is also important to note that these nones are not necessarily atheists.
According to Scientific American: Many have moved from mainstream religions into New Age spiritual movements, as evidenced in a 2017 Pew poll that found an increase from 19 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2017 of those who reported being “spiritual but not religious.”
Among this cohort, only 37 percent described their religious identity as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.”
Even among atheists and agnostics, belief in things usually connected with religious faith can worm its way through fissures in the materialist dam.
A 2014 survey administered by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture on 15,738 Americans, for example, found that of the 13.2 percent who described themselves atheist or agnostic, 32 percent answered in the affirmative to the question “Do you think there is life, or some sort of conscious existence, after death?” Huh?
Even more incongruent, 6 percent of these atheists and agnostics also stated that they believed in the bodily resurrection of the dead. You know, like Jesus.
In a paper in the January 2018 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science entitled “How Many Atheists Are There?”, Will M. Gervais and Maxine B. Najle, both psychologists at the University of Kentucky, contend that there may be far more atheists than pollsters report because “social pressures favoring religiosity, coupled with stigma against religious disbelief..., might cause people who privately disbelieve in God to nonetheless self-present as believers, even in anonymous questionnaires.”
To work around this problem of self-reported data, the psychologists applied what is called an unmatched count system, which has been previously authorized for estimating the size of other underreported cohorts, such as the LGBTQ community.
They contracted with YouGov to conduct two surveys of 2,000 American adults each, for a total of 4,000 subjects, asking participants to indicate how many innocuous versus sympathetic statements on a list were right for them.
The researchers then applied a Bayesian probability calculation to compare their results with similar Gallup and Pew polls of 2,000 American adults each.
From this analysis, they figured, with 93 percent certainty, that somewhere between 17 and 35 percent of Americans are atheists, with a “most credible indirect estimate” of 26 percent.
If true, this means that there are more than 64 million American atheists, a large number that no politician can afford to ignore.
Moreover, if these trends continue, we should be thinking about the more profound implications for how people will find meaning as the traditional source of it wanes in influence.
And we should continue working on grounding our morals and values on viable secular sources such as reason and science.