Poll: More have no religion in a sharply shifting religious landscape

Yesterday I briefly referenced the ABC / Washington Post religious poll that was published on 10th May. I’d like to return to it again today and dig into it in a little bit more and pull out a few trends.

Background context to the ongoing decline of religious belief in the US

It has been quite clear now for some time that the religious landscape within the US is undergoing a dramatic change. We have all become familiar with the demographic known as the “nones”. This is a group when asked, that will explain that they are not part of any specific religious group.

Interestingly enough, these are not all people who do not have a belief. Many when asked, will often suggest that they think there might indeed be a higher power that orchestrates things. What is happening is that much of the traditional mainstream belief has become so utterly abhorrent and obnoxious, people no longer want to be associated with it in any way.

The rather obvious examples are of course the sexual abuse of children on an almost industrial scale by Catholic priests, and the associated willingness of church authorities to cover it all up and let them continue. Beyond that we have the vast majority of the Evangelicals voraciously supporting a self-confessed sexual predator and grossly dishonest casino owning individual who has supported actual Nazi’s as “very fine people”. They also often suggest that any criticism of him is evil and Satanic.

With all of that as background, it comes as no surprise to discover that many are quietly walking away and want nothing to do with any of this.

Poll Highlights

Below is a chart that illustrates how things have changes during the 15 years between 2003 and 2017. Notice the sharp declines for protestant’s and the sharp increases for the Nones …

If you are wondering about Catholicism. That has held a bit more steady (22% in 2003 vs 22% now). The pollsters attribute this to an increase in the Hispanic population during that period.

Is it Accurate?

Other independent polls have published similar numbers …

The Public Religion Research Institute found that 24 percent of Americans identified as “atheist,” “agnostic” or “nothing in particular” in 2017, up from 14 percent in 2004.

Similarly, in Gallup polls, 38 percent identify as Protestants, down from 49 percent in 2003, and 20 percent have no religious affiliation, up 10 percentage points.

Age is a factor

Only 13% of the over 50’s declared that they had no religion

For the 18-29 age group, as many as 35% declared that they had no religion.

The implication of this is that as time passes, the trend will continue. This will not be because people change their minds, but because the older more religious generation will pass away and be replaced by a far less religious generation.

Do religious groups decline down to zero?

National Geographic has an article about the Muggletonians. Their last known member died in 1979.

Their demise was inevitable because they were staunchly anti-science and dead wrong.

Today we face a political cult of fanatics that are also staunchly anti-science. Climate change is supposedly a myth and evolution is a lie. For tribal reasons many buy into much of this, but the long-term outcome of it all is their inevitable decline and demise because they simply don’t have either facts or reality on their side, and there is a younger generation that can clearly see that.

This latest poll is just one more data point that highlights this inevitable decline.

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