News / USA

    One in 5 American Adults Religiously Unaffiliated

    A record one in five American adults identifies with no particular religion, according to a new study. And while many still believe in God, the so-called "nones" are a rapidly growing constituency that overwhelmingly votes Democratic.

    The study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life looks at a group that has confounded faith leaders and political strategists alike, as it has rapidly grown in number in this deeply religious nation.

    The "nones" - who include atheists, agnostics and people reporting no particular faith - now total 46 million people, according to the study.

    Lest anyone think America is following a European-style secularization process, Pew researcher Greg Smith emphasized that nones are by and large still spiritual people. Most told the survey they still believe in God, and 20 percent said they pray every day.


    “These are folks who are not necessarily non-believers, they're just not associated with any particular religious tradition,” said Smith.

    The trend is most pronounced among young adults, a third of whom identify themselves as nones. Smith said he does not expect them to find religion - or at least religious affiliation - when they become older.

    “Young people today aren't just more likely to be nones than their elders. Young people today are also more likely to be nones when compared with previous generations when members of those generations were young adults,” said Smith.

    Analysts said the political implications are profound. Three quarters of nones voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. And the study suggests they are now the biggest religious constituency in the Democratic party, outnumbering Catholics, and mainline and evangelical Protestants.

    And most sustain liberal attitudes - supporting legal abortion and same-sex marriage.

    Still, Mike McCurry, press secretary for former President Bill Clinton, said the Democratic Party would be wrong to appeal to the "nones" as secular voters.

    "You would want to appeal to them on the fact that they are searching for something spiritual or religious or filling some gap in their life," he said.

    Indeed, religion is a powerful force in American politics. At the Democratic National Convention last month, leaders quickly reinstated the word "God" in the party platform after harsh criticism from right-wing commentators.

    Some analysts say the rise in non-affiliation, however, is a backlash against political preaching in churches.

    Michael Cromartie directs the Evangelicals in Civic Life program at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center research organization in Washington.

    “I think the reason for decline in some of these places is again because they politicize the pulpit. And people don't go to church to get politics. They go for other, more important questions,” said Cromartie.

    The Pew Forum conducted the study in partnership with an American public television show, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, which begins a three-part mini-series on the topic this Friday.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora