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

by Tobin Grant, Corner of Church and State, 3/13/15.

When 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.

Read more at … http://tobingrant.religionnews.com/2015/03/12/7-5-million-people-left-religion-since-2012-three-graphs-latest-general-social-survey/

CHURCH ATTENDANCE & Quotes from “American Religion: Contemporary Trends” by Mark Chaves

(Compiled by Warren Bird from American Religion: Contemporary Trends by Mark Chaves, Princeton University Press.)

Relevant points:

– The U.S. ranks as one of the most pious and religious of any Western countries (p. 1-2)

– For most of the past 300 years, 35%-40% of the population has participated in church with some degree of regularity (p2)

– Despite what people SAY about weekly attendance, the true weekly rate is closer to 25% (p 45). If we use lesser frequencies, more than 60% of American adults have attended a service at a religious congregation in the last year (p 55).

– While it’s debatable whether the attendance is going down or remaining level, the data is unambiguous that overall church attendance is attendance not increasing (p 47). More specifically, religious service attendance declined in the several decades leading up to 1990 and seems to have been essentially stable thereafter (p 49).

– However, the percent who say they “never” attend church has risen steadily over the last 30 years as people shift from infrequent attendance to nonattendance (pp 46, 48).

– Finally, the Protestant portion of the U.S. population is in decline, due to the rise in “nones” (no religious preference), decline of mainline denominations, and rise in the percent of recent immigrants claiming a religion other than Christian (pp 17-24). The Protestant makeup was 62% in the early 1970s to just over 50% today (p 24). If that trend continues, we will soon be a Protestant-minority country.

Read more at … http://www.christianbook.com/apps/product?item_no=146850;product_redirect=1;Ntt=146850;item_code=WW;Ntk=keywords;event=ESRCP

RELIGION & Is religion’s declining influence good or bad? Those without religious affiliation are divided

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Chapters 16 & 15 in Spiritual Waypoints examine how to share the Good News with the growing percentage of Americans who consider themselves atheist or agnostic. A key research finding in that book is that atheist and agnostics are not growing in their hostility towards religion and the article below further confirms this. Thus, there may be ways we can connect those without faith by not being confrontative but letting our good works pave our way into conversation with them.”

by MICHAEL LIPKA, 9/23/14, Pew Research

We’ve known for some time that the number of Americans who say they have no religion has been growing. But while this group does not identify with a specific religious tradition or denomination, the “nones” are not uniformly against religion having a role in society, a new Pew Research Center surveyfinds.

Most View Religion's Waning Influence as Negative DevelopmentWe asked all respondents whether religion is gaining or losing influence in American life, and 72% of U.S. adults (including 70% of the religiously unaffiliated) said religion is losing influence. We then asked whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, and, not surprisingly, “nones” were much more likely than other major religious groups to say that the declining influence of religion in American life is a good thing.

The results, however, were not completely one-sided. In fact, religiously unaffiliated people who perceive religion’s influence as declining were split on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. About a third of “nones” overall (34%) said it is good that religion is losing influence, while a similar share (30%) said this is bad.

“Nones” include atheists and agnostics as well as people who have no religion in particular. Among only atheists and agnostics, half (50%) see religion’s influence as declining and see this as a good thing, while only 12% say it’s a bad thing. But among those who say their religion is “nothing in particular,” 37% say religion’s declining influence is a bad thing and 27% say it’s a good thing…

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/23/is-religions-declining-influence-good-or-bad-those-without-religious-affiliation-are-divided/