Poll: America losing its religion

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More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.


"It may be happening, but Americans don't like it," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, said of religion's waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don't think this is a good state of affairs."

According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans' perception of religion's power has never been lower.

According to the poll, 75% of Americans said it the country would be better off if it was more religious.

The poll doesn't reflect Americans' personal religiosity, such as church attendance, but rather how large events and trends shape shared views, Newport explained.

For example, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War and the rise of the counterculture fed the perception that religion was on the wane during the late 1960s, he said.

Written By: Dan Merica
continue to source article at religion.blogs.cnn.com

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  1. When was growing up in America, I thought everbody believed in god. Then I discovered they believed in several different gods. I thought there was something wrong with me but I couldn’t buy the “good booK’

    Thank god (excuse me, Thank Thor) for the twenty five percent group that I didn’t know about then.

  2. The handwringing comes from the belief that other people are eager to do all manner of wicked things, and only the threat of hell fire stops them. They want other people to believe in punishing gods, even if they don’t believe they exist.

    The United states is one of the most violent developed countries, and it is rife with religious superstition. Who is best behaved? the Scandinavians who are quite secular. Who knows exactly why, but it still shows that fear of hellfire is not necessary for a civil society.

  3. The problem with the Gallup pools are that they are limited in the number of people polled. This poll was phone based and polled only 1535 people. The population of the U.S. is around 300 million.

    “”It may be happening, but Americans don’t like it,” Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief, said of religion’s waning influence. “It is clear that a lot of Americans don’t think this is a good state of affairs.”” I have to disagree. While many would prefer religion, most Americans I have observed seem to be tired of it and want it kept to a minimum. To paraphrase Penn Jillete, if atheism was a religion, then it is the fastest growing one.

  4. The Gallup poll was conducted via telephone from May 2 to May 7. A total of 1,535 people were sampled for the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    I’m not a statistician, but a representative sample of 1,535 people in a country with a population of more than 300m seems quite small to me, especially given the massive difference in demographics across the states.

    The survey has a +/- 3 margin of error… Can anyone shed some light on this?

    • In reply to #5 by Byrneo:

      They use several methods to make sure they’ll get a pretty representative sample of the people. +/- 3 means that they they take into account they could be off by 3%. The sort of “hey, the people I know would say something very different” answer is a common objection to poll results. But who actually knows a representative segment of people; liberals and conservatives, rich and poor, pensioners and students, etc.? There’s confirmation bias at work when reading poll results too. 1500 people is considered a good number for these demographic polls. Their margin of error isn’t a hunch, it’s based on empirical evaluation of previous polls and statistical calculations.

  5. There are two problems with what I’m reading on this page. The first is that the title misled me into expecting this poll to show a decline in religiosity rather than most Americans believe in such a decline, which isn’t the same thing. The decline is real, to be sure, but it’s old news. This article is actually fresher news than it lets on; most Americans realize what’s happening.

    The second is people here who think what matters is the percentage of a population you quiz. Actually, because of the way the central limit theorem works, it’s the absolute number that’s more important. So yes, you can learn a lot about 300 million from 1500 of them.

    • It isn’t even that. It’s showing that American’s believe religion’s INFLUENCE is in decline. Given the current vogue among the more rabid Christians to constantly declare that Christianity is under attack, the results of this poll could be akin to those where people say they believe crime is on the increase because they see ever more lurid stories on the news when in fact crime is falling.

      In reply to #8 by Jos Gibbons:

      There are two problems with what I’m reading on this page. The first is that the title misled me into expecting this poll to show a decline in religiosity rather than most Americans believe in such a decline…

  6. “75% of Americans said it the country would be better off if it was more religious.”

    By which they mean “provided it’s the same faith as mine”. It’s hard to blame Gallup (they know what they are doing) but there is an element of ask a silly question and you’ll get a silly answer here.

  7. The fact that 75% of Americans said the country would be better off if it was more religious says alot more about the current state of religiosity of the American society than the perception that religion is losing influance. It’s all a matter of perception, like as to a happy days family the Fonz maybe a bad ass but to a southside gangster he’s kinda of a wuss. So from my Dutch perspective, were the majority is non religious and from those who are religious only a tiny percentage is religious in the same amount the majority of americans are, I still see the USA as a fundamental christian state and this poll confirms my view.

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