About 30% of American adults say they do not have a religious affiliation, according to a new study exploring the growing secularization in American society.
In 2007, only 16% of American adults surveyed by the Pew Research Center identified themselves as religious “nones” – people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” when asked about their religious identity. That figure is now 29%, according to a new Pew research released on Tuesday.
“The religiously unaffiliated share of the public is six percentage points higher than it was five years ago and 10 points higher than a decade ago,” the center said.
Despite the growing shift away from religious affiliation, Christianity continues to dominate the American population. Self-identified Christians, including Protestants, Catholics, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Orthodox Christians, constitute 63% of the adult population, outnumbering religious “nones” by a ratio of a little more than two-to-one. In 2007, Christians outnumbered “nones” by nearly five-to-one.
The decline in the Christian population is largely centered among Protestants, a group broadly defined to include nondenominational Christians and people who describe themselves as “just Christian” along with Baptists, Methodists and Lutherans.
Currently, 40% of American adults are Protestants. Over the last five years, the Protestant share of the population dropped by four percentage points and has dropped 10 points in the last decade.
In contrast, the Catholic share of the population, despite ticking downward between 2007 and 2014, has mostly remained steady in recent years. According to the survey, as of 2021, 21% of American adults identify as Catholic, identical to the Catholic share of the population in 2014.
The survey also asked respondents how often they pray and how important they consider religion to be in their lives. Survey results revealed that 45% of the American adult population pray on a daily basis, compared to 58% in the 2007 survey. Now, 32% of American adults say they rarely or never pray, up from 18% in 2007.