Bucking previous trends, survey finds growth of the religiously unaffiliated slowing

Sounds like somewhat discouraging news to me. Positive in that the percentage has grown - but not good that the growth is slowing.

 

 

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – After years of marked growth, the size of Americans who identify with no religion slowed in 2012, according to a study released Thursday.

Since 2008, the percentage of Americans who identify as religious "nones" has grown from 14.6% to 17.8% in 2012, according to the Gallup survey. That number, which grew nearly one percentage point every year from 2008 to 2011, grew only 0.3% last year – from 17.5% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2012 – making it the smallest increase over the past five years.

This study contrasts with headlines from previous studies on religious “nones,” including a 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that found the group was the fastest growing "religious" group in America and that one in five Americans now identify with no religion.

“Although this ‘rise of the nones’ has increased dramatically over recent decades, the rate of increase slowed last year, suggesting the possibility that there may be a leveling off in this measure in the years ahead,” reports the Gallup study, which is made up of more than 350,000 interviews.

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says these results suggest “that religion may be maintaining itself or even increasing in the years ahead.”

“Our current ability to look at it over five years with these big surveys suggests the possibility that the growth [of the nones] may not be inexorable,” Newport says.

Read the rest here.

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Replies to This Discussion

Too bad the positive trend is slowing.

Yes, Ruth - I was focusing on the percentage increase. However, the rate of growth is slowing.

I edited the discussion.

Well, I believe there is no god and those who do believe create problems for me and other people interested in seeing civilization advance. Sure it is scary to leave behind safety blankets and binkies, but sometimes things need grown-ups to think and work and collaborate with others in order to find fair and just solutions. 

Perhaps it is time I set aside my sword and focus on benefits of atheism and the fun of it all. The ability to cast off pretenses, to shed masks and litanies that obstruct clear thinking. To laugh and sing and dance, and write, and discuss and rejoice and celebrate. 

Spring equinox is coming up with equal day/night. The growing season and birthing of lambs and other critters, the showing of green in forest and flower, beginnings of blossoms of all nature, a rebirth of the earth as it evolves out of winter toward summer. Maybe some new wine, or daffodils, or beginning seeds in anticipation of outdoor planting for us northerners. Color, aromas, tastes, sounds that evoke the awakening of nature. Anything that makes one feel part of the Earth and its seasons, a celebration of being a part of it all and recognizing that this is all there is and we sing and dance in gratitude for the opportunity.

I can name the names of my grandmothers back 15 generations. I want to dance in memory of the 15 generations to come. Even if you don't have children, you exist as part of community that has a past and if we are careful and thoughtful and prudent, there will 15+ generations coming.  

Oh what a disappointment this is for humanity.

I've seldom seen a straight line progression of anything. The trend is still "upward", and that's encouraging enough for me!

I think you hit the nail on the head. Personally,  I won't be too surprised if the trend even goes backwards once in a while. But I strongly believe that as the boomers die out and the millenials take over, things are going to keep improving for those who wish to embrace a rational worldview. 

That's what I was thinking Randall.  Joan's graph of the growth of "Nones" shows the ups & downs, but the trend is still upward.

Sad that the growth is slowing, but there are just some people who will not see reason.  There will always be religious people because they want that safety net that religion offers called the afterlife.  It's scary to think of death as simple absence.

I'm glad that we're still growing though, I wonder how this will impact assertions that we're the fastest growing religious affiliation in the country.

It's a poll, and there's no guarantee that it will accurately reflect reality.  The only thing that makes it credible in my opinion, is that the trend has not reversed.  There is nothing religion can do anymore to reverse the trend.  This is a progressive country, and religion has taken some hugely publicised hits in the areas of politics and scandals over the last couple decades.  The youth are becoming wiser every day to the disingenuous nature of religion, and it has itself to blame.

You're more sanguine about the human capacity for reason than I. I think mass insanity is quite possible. As Climate Destabilization progresses, and it becomes clear that we dropped the ball, that life will get harder and harder, it's possible that people will succumb to religious frenzy as people did during Medieval plagues.

You know Ruth - that might happen. People will not think rationally and turn to religion for comfort.

Reaching peak oil, changing climate, downturn in the economy with no new jobs in sight, young and smart and ambitious people will not buy into insanity of myths and delusions. They will make a very big noise, just like the young and smart and ambitious people did at the end of the Viet Nam War. With a growing older population and an outraged youth, the chaos will overwhelm some. Religiosity will make it worse. Therefore, calm, reasoned, reasonable, intelligent people can maintain enough stability that we might be able to get through the period. The probability of going either way is unclear. What is clear, climate change will impact us in ways we are not even now realizing and that will increase the probability of collapse of empire. Well, we are not the first culture to collapse. 

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