America Godless? Number of People with No Religion Soars (2019)
“Religious nones,” as they are called by researchers, are a diverse group made up of atheists, agnostics, the spiritual, and those who are no specific organized religion in particular. A rejection of organized religion is the common thread they share.
…The meteoric rise of religious nones began in the early 1990s and has grown 266% since 1991, he [Burge] said.
Burge estimates that ‘No Religion’ will be the largest group outright in four to six years.
Experts still debate the factors behind this wave of Americans declaring no religion.
The number of Americans who identify as having no religion has risen 266 percent since 1991, to now tie statistically with the number of Catholics and Evangelicals, according to a new survey.
People with no religion – known as ‘nones’ among statisticians – account for 23.1 percent of the U.S. population, while Catholics make up 23 percent and Evangelicals account for 22.5 percent, according to the General Social Survey.
Those three groups now represent the largest the religious groups in America.
The survey has tracked a broad swath of American trends since 1972, offering comprehensive insight into the evolving face of religion over more than four decades.
Ryan Burge, a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University who analyzed the data, said that experts have several theories about why the number of ‘nones’ has risen so dramatically in recent decades.
‘One of them is that many people used to lie about what they were,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘Many people were (always) atheist or non-religious, but it was previously culturally unacceptable to not have a religion in America.’
Shifting political ideologies about social issues has also played a role, with fewer Americans comfortable with the rhetoric of their religious leaders.
‘Another (theory) is that the religious right kind of cleaved moderate Christianity and a lot of moderate Christians who were moderately attached said they didn’t want to defend Jerry Falwell … and all the anti-gay and anti- abortion religious rights leaders,’ Burge said. ‘So they said, ‘You know what? I’m out.’
As the ‘nones’ have ascended, the number of mainline Protestant Christians has fallen 62.5 percent since 1982, to now account for just 10.8 percent of the U.S. population, according to the survey.
….Burge said that America is on a trajectory to become increasingly less religious going forward – following a pattern that has already emerged in Europe’s most developed countries, including those in Scandinavia.
‘The big questions is what next in terms of what religion is going to look like in America,’ he said. ‘Secularization theory argues that as countries become more industrialized and prosperous then the throwing off of religion becomes more normalized.’