7.5 million Americans lost their religion since 2012

A new survey shows that the Great Decline of religion in America continues. Since 2012, the U.S. has about 7.5 million Americans who are no longer active in religion.

Last week, the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) was released. The GSS is the gold standard for sociological surveys. Funded by the National Science Foundation this multi-million dollar study gives us the most accurate data on American society — including religion.

Here are three measures that show that the percentage of Americans who left religion increased between 2012 and 2014, reaching its highest level in decades. (Next week, I’ll present an the 2014 update of my annual index of religiosity that goes back to the 1940s). An important point to remember as you see the data: each percentage point increase represents a growth of 2.5 million adults.

For the three graphs, we see between a one and three point rise in secularity since 2012, with 7.5 million more people never entering a church or other worship service than just two years earlier.

The “nones’ are growing

7.5 million people left religion since 2012: Three graphs from latest General Social Survey - See more at: http://tobingrant.religionnews.com/2015/03/12/7-5-million-people-left-religion-since-2012-three-graphs-latest-general-social-survey/#sthash.B6z3a56K.dpufWhen asked their “religious preference”, nearly one-in-four Americans now says “none.”Up until the 1990s, this group of so-called “nones” hovered in the single digits.  The 2014 GSS showed that the so-called nones are 21 percent. How large is this group of nones? There are nearly as many Americans who claim no religion as there are Catholics (24 percent). If this growth continues, in a few years the largest “religion” in the U.S. may be no religion at all.

7.5 million people left religion since 2012: Three graphs from latest General Social Survey The number of Americans who never darken a church door is also at a new high. Over a third of Americans (34 percent) never attend a worship service (other than weddings and other ceremonies). This is a 3.4 point increase from just a few years earlier. Put differently, the group of Americans who don’t attend church grew by a rate of over ten percent in two years.

7.5 million people left religion since 2012: Three graphs from latest General Social Survey

Is this just a departure from organized religion? Even with people no longer identifying with religion or attending worship services, they still pray. But the percentage who never pray is also up slightly. Nearly one-in-six Americans never prays.

Bottom line:  The number of Americans who are no longer active in religion reached a new high in 2014. Since 2012, about 7.5 million Americans more Americans don’t attend attend church. Millions also stopped identifying with any religion or praying.

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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Richard Hicks

All humans are equally religious. It is impossible for a human not to be religious, faithful, believing, etc. This dinosaur NSF study does show that dino denominations have fewer takers. These so-called “nones” are saying that they don’t want what the dino denoms are offering. Remember the Shakers. Well, neither do the Shakers – they’re all dead. Thank you, Richard Hicks, OKC

George Nixon Shuler

Richard, I admire your whimsical style here. 150 years ago, membership in a church/denomination was a sign of tribal identity. These days few need it or want it. These days organized Christianity’s brand is tarnished because of the political religious right, which exploits Christ to extend power and control over others.

George Nixon Shuler

It is most Unchristian to bear false witness against another.

George Nixon Shuler

Logic is not your strong suit. I said the opposite. I never expressed one iota of hatred. You have bourne false witness against me, for which you should be sorely ashamed.

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