Atheists/agnostics and religion-unaffiliated make up 4 and 16.1% of Americans, respectively (Pew, March 3, 2008)
The US Religious Landscape Survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that 16.1 % of Americans have no particular religion, making the religion-unaffiliated the second largest faith-related group in the country, trailing only Roman Catholics who comprised 23.9% of the 35,000 survey respondents. The study also shows that the proportion of Americans identifying as atheist or agnostic has risent from 3.2% to 4 %. A “remarkably high” 44% of Americans have rejected the religion placed on them in their childhood.
Survey shows Non-Religious Outnumber Those of Every Single Faith
Americans’ Faiths in Flux as More Reject Their Given Religions
Amherst, New York (March 3, 2008) – The most detailed estimates to
date of Americans’ religious affiliations reports that a
significant portion of U.S. citizens claim “none of the above,”
placing the unaffiliated second only to Roman Catholics in
number. Monday’s release of the 35,000-respondent U.S. Religious
Landscape Survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
shows that 16.1 percent of Americans have no particular religion
at all, while 23.9 percent identify themselves as Catholic. The
next largest “belief group” is Evangelical Baptist at 10.8
percent. All other denominational groupings show in the single
digits or less.
The study also shows the number of Americans who identify as
atheist or agnostic has risen from 3.2 percent to 4 percent,
while a “remarkably high” 44 percent have rejected the religion
placed on them in childhood.
“People are finding out that what they’ve been handed in youth
doesn’t work, or isn’t important enough to defend when
confronted with marriage or some other life situation that
forces them to examine it,” said Paul Kurtz, founder of the
Council for Secular Humanism. “But when the shuffling is done,
this study shows that three people are dropping religion
altogether for each one gaining a faith.”
The study also confirms the previous 2004 Pew Forum-University
of Akron study findings that those who identify as strictly
secular comprise more than 10 percent of the population, only on
a much larger scale.
“The breakdown is interesting, in that it distinguishes between
the vaguely religious and those who fall squarely in the secular
camp,” Kurtz said. “But I would venture to say that there is a
significant number of Americans who sympathize with secularism,
but who may still be nominal members of religious organizations.
It’s apparent that a significant percentage of the population
identifies with secularism, and I trust politicians will bear
this in mind.”
The Council for Secular Humanism is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
educational organization promoting rational inquiry, secular
values and positive human development through the advancement of
secular humanism. The Council, publisher of the bimonthly
journal Free Inquiry, has a Web site at http://www.secularhumanism.org .