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More Americans Don’t Identify with Any Religion

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One in five Americans say they do not identify with any religion, bringing the number of religiously unaffiliated to a record-high of 46 million people, according to new data released by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday.

One in five Americans say they do not identify with any religion, bringing the number of religiously unaffiliated to a record-high of 46 million people, according to new data released by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday.

“This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives,” the report said.

The survey found that 19.6 percent of Americans identify themselves as agnostic, atheist or “nothing in particular.” Despite this increase in the unaffiliated or “nones,” which has risen from just seven percent in 1972, the study found that a vast majority of people (73 percent) identified themselves as Christian - which included Protestant, Catholic, Mormon and Orthodox denominations.

Protestants were the majority, at 48 percent, making it the first time ever the group had dipped to below 50 percent. People of “other faith” (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist) were at six percent, while those who said they “don’t know” were reported at two percent.

Despite the lack of religious affiliation, the study found that many of the “nones” are far from godless. In fact, 68 percent of those who said they were not affiliated with any religion, said they believe in God, and more than half said they “often feel a deep connection with nature and earth.”

Those between the ages of 18 and 29 reported the highest number of religiously unaffiliated at 32 percent.

Revealing a vast political contrast, 24 percent of religiously unaffiliated registered voters are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. While 11 percent of the “nones” say they are Republican or identify with the views of the Republican Party.

“We think it’s mostly a reaction to the religious right,” Harvard University political scientist Robert Putnam, referring to the Republican Party’s shift toward a faith-based platform, told the Washington Post.

The study expressed a similar viewpoint.

“Several leading scholars contend that young adults, in particular, have turned away from organized religion because they perceive it as deeply entangled with conservative politics and do not want to have any association with it,” Pew said in its study.

 

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