The New York Times reported today on the latest Pew Research Center demographic survey on religion in America.
Highlights from the report–
* Over 16 percent of American adults say they are not part of any organized faith, which makes the unaffiliated the country’s fourth largest "religious group."
* In the 1980s, the General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center indicated that from 5 percent to 8 percent of the population described itself as unaffiliated with a particular religion.
* In the Pew survey 7.3 percent of the adult population said they were unaffiliated with a faith as children. That segment increases to 16.1 percent of the population in adulthood, the survey found.
* The unaffiliated are largely under 50 and male. "Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13 percent of women," the survey said.
*Protestantism has been declining, from two thirds of the U.S. population in the ’70′s to about 51% today– with evangelicals accounting for a slim majority of Protestants.
*Catholics have remained steady at 25% of the population, but the influx of Catholic Latin Americans into the U.S. is largely responsible for what looks like stability in this group.
*Affiliated Jews have declined slightly to 1.7% from 1.9%
So what does this mean? The New York Times article quotes a Pew researcher who concludes that these religious affiliation changes do not mean that Americans are becoming less religious: "Contrary to assumptions that most of the unaffiliated are atheists or agnostics, most described their religion "as nothing in particular." I’m sure that the new-new atheists will conclude differently.
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