The Freedom From Religion Foundation celebrates a new Gallup poll showing that the percentage of Americans identifying as “nonreligious” now exceeds those identifying as “religious.”
According to this poll, 33 percent of Americans now identify as “spiritual, but not religious,” (while 2 percent identify as “both”). Another 18 percent identify as neither spiritual nor religious — giving us a total of 51 percent choosing “not religious.” The number identifying as neither religious nor spiritual has doubled since the poll first asked the question in 1999. During that same timeframe, the number of respondents who identify as religious (47 percent in this poll) has dropped 7 percent. Hence, the surprising revelation that a slim majority of American adults today would not describe themselves as “religious.”
The poll highlights another encouraging trend: Younger people are more likely than older adults to identify as nonreligious. More than a quarter of 18-26-year old respondents identify as nonreligious. That’s a stark contrast to the less than a tenth of those aged 65-plus who identify as nonreligious.
Not a surprise is that Republicans are most likely to identify as religious (61 percent), with 28 percent identifying as “spiritual.” More independents (44 percent) say they are religious rather than spiritual (32 percent), with 21 percent identifying as neither. Democrats are nearly equally likely to say they are spiritual (41 percent) as religious (37 percent), with 21 percent identifying as neither.
The poll indicates that religiosity among all age groups is down. These data strongly suggest that the trend away from religiosity will continue for the foreseeable future.
Respondents seem to be shifting away from identifying as “religious” and toward identifying as “spiritual.” The rise in respondents identifying as “spiritual” nearly mirrors the decrease in respondents who identify as “religious.” This seems like a natural and predictable shift as individuals leave religion. Self-identifying as “spiritual” is likely for some a path toward leaving all supernatural belief behind for good.
“This poll shows that religion is simply not for a majority of Americans,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “The next step is to start electing officials who represent the majority of Americans no longer finding religion relevant.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.