December 29, 2014

According to Gallup, U.S. is Still Christian Nation

A recent Gallup poll based on 173,490 interviews conducted between January 2 and December 21, 2014 found that approximately 75% of adults in the U.S. identify themselves as Christian, with 50% identifying as Protestant and 24% as Catholic. The poll shows that only about 6% identified with a religion other than Christianity. The largest group of non-Christians by far are those categorized as "none/atheist/agnostic" (16%).

Summarizing the results, Frank Newport (Gallup) refers to a "slight erosion of Americans' identification as Protestant and concomitantly slight increase in the percentage with no religious preference," but we are only talking about a shift of one percentage point between 2013 and 2014. It must be noted that a difference of this magnitude is within the margin of error. Thus, "slight" would seem to be an apt description. If a massive decline in religiosity is taking place in the U.S. today, it was not detected by this survey.

It was also noteworthy that 53% of those surveyed reported attending religious services at least once a month, with 41% reporting that they attend "weekly or almost every week." Thus, involvement in religious institutions appears to be an important aspect of life for many people.

According to Newport:
The U.S. remains a largely Christian nation, with over three-quarters of Americans identifying as Protestant, Catholic or Mormon. The U.S. also remains a generally observant nation as measured by Americans' self-reported attendance at religious services. Eight in 10 Americans attend religious services at least occasionally, while more than half attend monthly or more frequently.
It seems to me that those of us hoping to witness a large shift in religious identification and decline in the attendance of religious services are going to need to be a bit more patient than some of us might like. We also need to guard against wishful thinking here. Wanting to see this decline does not mean that it is in fact taking place.

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