Study Finds That the Percentage of Protestant Americans Is Declining – NYTimes.com

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For the first time since researchers began tracking the religious identity of Americans, fewer than half said they were Protestants, a steep decline from 40 years ago when Protestant churches claimed the loyalty of more than two-thirds of the population.


A new study released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that it was not just liberal mainline Protestants, like Methodists or Episcopalians, who abandoned their faith, but also more conservative evangelical and “born again” Protestants. The losses were among white Protestants, but not among black or minority Protestants, the study found, based on surveys conducted during the summer.

When they leave, instead of switching churches, they join the growing ranks who do not identify with any religion. Nearly one in five Americans say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”

This is a significant jump from only five years ago, when adults who claimed “no religion” made up about 15 percent of the population. It is a seismic shift from 40 years ago, when about 7 percent of American adults said they had no religious affiliation.

Now, more than one-third of those ages 18 to 22 are religiously unaffiliated. These “younger millennials” are replacing older generations who remained far more involved with religion throughout their lives.

“We really haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Gregory A. Smith, a senior researcher with the Pew Forum. “Even when the baby boomers came of age in the early ’70s, they were half as likely to be unaffiliated as compared with young people today.”

The “Nones,” as they are called, now make up the nation’s second-largest religious grouping. The largest single faith group is Catholics, who make up about 22 percent of the population. Their numbers have held steady, mostly because an influx of immigrants has replaced the many Catholics who were raised in the church and left in the last five years, Mr. Smith said.

The rise in people who claim no religion is likely to have political consequences, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Southern California.

Written By: Laurie Goodstein
continue to source article at nytimes.com

23 COMMENTS

  1. They may not come on Sundays, but they haven’t abandoned their faith

    Participating in soup kitchens and H for H is for everyone, not just religious folks.
    Teens love to do tactile stuff and help others.  THAT’S why they show up.

    Above photo of cross gives me the creeps.

  2. That echos the findings of other recent posts. We know we will win. The only thing in question is how fast.

    Tissues of lies seem invulnerable, but once they start to dissolve, the lies can no longer reinforce each other. That accelerates the dissolving process.

    Humans are herd animals.  This works to hold lies in place, and works to destroy them once the dissolving process is underway.

    However, people rarely change their minds. It is mainly a matter of patiently waiting for the infected folk to age and die.  There is a similar effect even for scientific paradigms.

    A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
    ~ Max Planck (born: 1858-04-23 died: 1947-10-04 at age: 89)

  3. The cross is a funny symbol. It is sort of like “remember the Alamo”, “never forgive the Romans for Masada”  “Never forgive the Jews for crucifying Jesus like a common criminal”

    In earlier times, Christians were far more upset that Jesus was treated as a criminal than that he was executed or tortured.  To them crucifixion was no more scandalous than a prison term would be for us.

    In theory, the message was supposed to be like something from a Superman movie, “You thought I was a goner, but I’m back stronger than ever”. It would be like making a superman doll with a kryptonite necklace.

    I think it’s interesting how people act on their beliefs. A lot of Christians, for instance, wear crosses around their necks. Nice sentiment, but do you think when Jesus comes back, he’s really going to want to look at a cross?
    ~ Bill Hicks (born: 1961-12-16 died: 1994-02-26 at age: 32)

    If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs round their necks instead of crosses.
    ~ Lenny Bruce (born: 1925-10-13 died: 1966-08-03 at age: 40)

  4. It follows from what you, and Max Planck, say that  unfortunately we will have to wait an awfully long time for religion-free humanity;  in fact, it won’t happen in our generation or even the next.  Just look at the Muslim societies – most of their populations are very young, and strongly radicalised.  Oh, it’s so depressing…

  5.  The glamour fades…like tears in rain.

    It is way past time for political integrity to represent the more sane in society.

    The majority of so called peoples representaives have made utter pillocks of themselves for far to many years, it has got them no where, and rendered the rest of society into deep polarized hatred and reinforced fear of being ‘different’ for not having a rather vague and putrescent ‘faith’ in gobbly gook woo and things fairy.
    It is time for a society to grow up …it really is!

  6. I agree roedygreen, the cross is an easy symbol – easier than a crown of thorns to draw, even for Aquacaine.

    And as creepy as the cross is for you bluebird hardly any christians think of jesus suffocating under the weight of his own body when they see it so don’t worry.

  7. And as creepy as the cross is for you bluebird hardly any
    christians think of jesus suffocating under the weight of his own body
    when they see it so don’t worry

    Good point…Christians do not think about their tacky icon.
    And because of their reality disconnect do not realize they are in fact boasting of, and promoting, a bronze age device manufactured specifically to inflict extreme pain and extended torture and add a slow lingering inevitable death through suffocation which occurs when the upper chest and arm muscles finally cramp and lose the battle to hold the chest up to allow lungs to inflate.

    And Christians wear such a ‘creepy’ icon around their necks proudly.
    They place the same graphic pornography above buildings and put lights on them and walk around with the image on sticks wearing dresses, and have a 3-D replication of the actual murder scene depicting the victim under torture, very few ‘displays’ show the victim actually dead on his ‘cross’…just dying and in some distress!

    In any other context they would be arrested for gross pornographic snuff sadism in a public place.
    In any other context they would be sectioned to a mental institution for the criminally insane.

    It offends me, they show no respect for my feelings, mind you I show them no respect for their feelings either so at least that is a draw…but it still offends me!

  8. @OP:disqus  The largest single faith group is Catholics, who make up about 22 percent of the population. Their numbers have held steady, mostly because an influx of immigrants has replaced the many Catholics who were raised in the church and left in the last five years, Mr. Smith said.

    Don’t the right wing religinuts LOVE these people:-  a combination of sheeple subservience, desperate cheap labour, and imported ignorance to swell their ranks!

  9. I’m in no doubt christianity of all types is in decline. i suspect the current trend of right-wing american politicians trying to outdo each other for the most insane, bigoted, repugnant and dangerous comments on society is the sound of a particularly nasty old monster in early death-throes

    i’d feel sorry for it if it didn’t make such a racket

  10. Not just the RCC getting all sweaty and short of breath over imported nonsense fans.

    The C of E got all pompous about it in the 80′s…suddenly it got all weird cos the imported dropped the moderate church in double quick time and got all evangelical and extreme and those that in-fluxed from the sub continent started the myriad of bizarro bush based cults and sects that reflected a damn sight more of their bush based ethnic spirituality then the Western Christian brand.
    The upshot being  a catalogue of demon exorcisms that in the extreme littered the Thames with body parts of a kiddy or litter the inside pages of most chattering newspaper columns.

    A salutary tale of a religion shooting its own foot off.

    The RCC are walking right into the same mistake, and it will be the coup de grace of the magisterium, it is certainly doing for the C of E in no uncertain terms but the RCC being bunnies of no particular suss they think they are making great strides at the expense of their chaotic opposition,  their boasting will turn to teeth gnashing and howls of hysteria soon enough cos their much vaunted  coup will turn and bite their scrawny ass big time, they just don’t know it yet!

  11. Regrading bluebird’s comment “Above photo of cross gives me the creeps.”
    I think it is rather good, as you can see from the cracks in the wall, obviously the structure is build on dodgy foundations. Highly appropriate I thought.

  12. It’s heartening to find out that belief in the big Sky Fairy is beginning to atrophy.
    If I were a US citizen of Republican political philosophy sympathy I would have a serious problem in voting for the religious tits that seem to have invaded the party.
    A friend of mine told me that Thomas Jefferson and his secular views were expunged in Texas (a serious slagging off of America’s most intellectually gifted founding father).
    More on Jefferson and less on Jebus etc. would seem the logical way forward.
    There are several documentaries (http://www.topdocumentaryfilms.com) which are highly critical of the dogmatically daft Christian factions in the USA.

  13.  

    CdnMacAtheist
    Not only the crumbling wall, but that light switch is down, which means the power is off in North America.

    You hadn’t considered the possibility of circuitry designed using faith?

  14. “The rise in people who claim no religion is likely to have political
    consequences … “

    Only if we continue to organise and gather in groups – and stand up to be counted.

    I was very disappointed in this: “The losses were among white Protestants, but not among black or minority Protestants … ”  But I have to confess (!) I haven’t done anything about it personally.

    Peace.

  15. I have a secret source of optimism.

    A long time ago I decided to invest the lion’s share of my energy into trying to stimulate the evolution of computers.

    Circa 1970 I wrote a computer program called Optow to design high voltage transmission lines for BC Hydro. Its designs were abysmal. Engineers used to come and laugh at the plots. Every day I improved the program, used more sophisticated math, repaired bugs that caused it to ignore valid possibilities… It gradually got better and better. The lines would no longer fall down. One day it got 90% as good as a human measured in cost/km. Within a week it was 10% better than a human engineer. Overnight a team of engineers with PhDs and masters degrees were obsolete. I will spare you the details of what happened next.

    The important thing is intelligence can be improving at a breakneck speed, but it looks like nothing is happening. Only once it gets close to human intelligence does it seem at all smart. An IQ 85 person might appear quite dumb, but they are considerably ahead of a dragonfly.

    I also discovered my program evolved a “personality” and “style” even though I did not consciously program any such thing. They emerged out of the low level equations.

    So, like Raymond Kurzweil, in his The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence I expect intelligent machines to spring “suddenly” into being, taking almost everyone by surprise, just like Optow did.
    Once machines get to a human level and take over their own evolution, they will sprint ahead of humans. They may decide to treat us a pets, and “tame” us, persuading us to behave sensibly in our own best interest. Or they may decide we are a waste of carbon.

    The bleak part is the people with the big budgets for AI are the military who want to use artificial intelligence for malice. I hope the machines are smart enough to quickly discount that childhood conditioning.

    It may sound a bit crazy, but I often write essays and epigrams with the intended audience being emerging artificial intelligence scanning the entire Internet. I hope to intrigue them with interesting questions, and bend their trajectory a tad.

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