‘Nones’ Demographic Continues to Grow

The definitive survey of religious beliefs and affiliation in America has been released for 2014 and it finds that the clear trend toward more and more people defining themselves as “none” continues. Since 1990, that demographic group has grown steadily from about 6-7% to now 21%.

2014Nones

Tobin Grant, a political scientist who studies this question, says:

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 Since 2012, the U.S. has about 7.5 million Americans who are no longer active in religion.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.

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.

Being a “none” does not, however, mean they’re atheists or agnostics. Most of them still believe in some sort of God or spirit, but they don’t affiliate with any religion. 34% of Americans never attend church and the number of people who say they don’t pray has also gone up.

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  • eric

    Up until the 1990s, this group of so-called “nones” hovered in the single digits.

    I blame the death of hair metal. Rockers donning giant wigs and makeup in order to sing about how rebellious they are is something you can believe in. Kurt Cobain? Not so much.

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    You’d think it would hover about 0

  • dugglebogey

    I was going to start the apathy party, but then I gave up and ate some potato chips.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Being a “none” does not, however, mean they’re atheists or agnostics. Most of them still believe in some sort of God or spirit, but they don’t affiliate with any religion.

    I kinda wonder if the classification of “none” really means anything at all.

  • colnago80

    Re Raging Bee @ #4

    This was also cited on Hemant’s blog and it is my information that it means no affiliation.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    But what does “no affiliation” mean? It means atheists and agnostics, but it could also mean religious loonies who are too rigid and self-centered and out-of-it to fit into any Church. And in that case, we have a label that includes wildly different people, and is therefore probably meaningless.

    Also, if an atheist is a member of an explicitly atheist organization, is he still a “none?”

  • raven

    Nones are growing as they have for decades.

    1. The other trend is that the christofascist fundies seem to be getting more and more vicious. Something I’ve noticed and Amanda Marcotte noted on Alternet a few days ago.

    It’s the cornered rat syndrome.

    2. This is a positive feedback loop. The fewer there are, the more hate filled they are, the more Nones there are. This assumes that hate and lies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. And it may also have to do with the more normal ones getting out, leaving the old and wacko behind, self selection.

    3. It would be nice to see some hard data on just how much more vicious and dumb the fundies are getting.

    Unfortunately, no one has devised a viciousness meter or hate index yet. So it will have to remain a hypothesis with only impressions to back it up.

  • Synfandel

    Since “none” is effectively a catch-all category that means “none of the above” or “other” and since it’s now pushing a quarter of the population, maybe the next General Society Survey would be a good time to start breaking that category down into more meaningful groups: atheist, agnostic, various smaller religions, undecided, etc.

  • raven

    The actual number of Nones might be a lot higher than 21%.

    A lot of xians are just census xians. Box checkers. It’s a tribal identity and nothing more.

    1. We know this from Dawkins’ Ipso Mori poll.

    2. Barna, a fundie pollster, who seems reliable, puts the post-xians at 37%.

  • raven

    White Christian America in Decline: Why Young People Are Sick of Conservative Religion

    White Christians are now a minority in 19 states.

    By Amanda Marcotte / AlterNet March 11, 2015

    quote: In other words, the past few years have created a self-perpetuating cycle: Christian conservatives, in a panic over changing demographics, start cracking down. In reaction, more people give up on religion. That causes the Christian right to panic more and crack down more. In the end, Christian conservatives are going to hasten their own demise by trying to save themselves. Not that any of us should be crying for them.

    Amanda Marcotte is more sure of her conclusions than I would be. But a postive feedback loop of hate, lies, and hypocrisy has a logic to it. Not that we live in a logical world.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I kinda wonder if the classification of “none” really means anything at all.

    Exactly. “None” meaning, “no preference” or “i prefer that the amount of religion that exists is none”? Besides how could you talk about what kind of religion it is or which kind of religion is preferable is there is literally no religion?

    Boggles, doesn’t it?

    That’s why whenever i get this I give the only answer that is consistent with both my values and with logic:

    My religious preference is “ephemeral and accidental”.

    As for religious food, my chief preference is generally chocolate chip cookies. Those are religious, aren’t they? I feel religious when I eat them.

    My chief preferred religious food is chocolate chip cookies.

    And latkes. Latkes and chocolate chip cookies. My two foods are preferred religious foods are …

  • grumpyoldfart

    But most of the politicians are Christians – and some of them are ratbags !

  • colnago80

    Re Raging Bee @ #6

    Come on Bee, with 40,000 Christian denominations, even the most insane religious nutcase should be able to find one that meets their requirements. If the worst comes to worse, they can found their own, like the lunatics at the Westboro Baptist Church have done.

  • abb3w

    Those curious can play with the GSS data for 1972-2012 at Berkeley’s SDA site; it includes a code book with the exact question wordings. For example, “RELIG” asks What is your religous preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion? The variable RELITEN may be more useful — asking about strength of religious affiliation among those affiliated — and crosstabs the variable GOD helps provide some perspective.

    Based on past releases, the Berkeley site will probably add the GSS-2014 release around May. Those fiendishly curious meanwhile can download it directly from NORC and find a copy of SPSS, STATA, or R to play with statistics.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Time to open a wimple shop!

  • llewelly

    Raging Bee :

    I kinda wonder if the classification of “none” really means anything at all.

    It means that more and more religious organizations have to put on the appearance of not being organized, but instead appear to be some kind of “organic” or “grass roots” phenomenon.

    Religions are slowly being forced to adopt more subtle propaganda.

    And I suspect more and more people are doing their churching over the internet, so they don’t have to leave their homes.

    But it’s a fact that very few atheists or even agnostics will say they are religious … so it has some meaning.

  • wpjoe

    When will the politicians realize that there are a substantial number of non-believers out there, and that they represent a significant number of votes?

  • D. C. Sessions

    wpjoe, the Republicans have. Why else do you think they’re working so hard to redefine them as “unAmerican?”

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    No one else has said it, so I will. The growth of “nones” seems to parallel the growth of the Internet.

    Perhaps the “you are not alone” effect. It’s a lot safer to be a “self proclaimed” atheist today than it was in 1990.

    Perhaps the generations that have come of age in the Internet era are harder to baffle with bullshit, as all claims can be investigated in seconds.

    Evidence? I got nothin’.

  • Synfandel

    The growth of “nones” seems to parallel the growth of the Internet.

    Perhaps the “you are not alone” effect. It’s a lot safer to be a “self proclaimed” atheist today than it was in 1990.

    The growth of the Internet is also (slowly) making the US a less insular culture. The bulk of the western world is a lot less religious than the US. American society is behind the curve on this trend. Maybe it’s being pulled along by cyber-exposure to cultures that have left religion behind and not crashed and burned, but rather prospered.

  • voss

    @Raging Bee

    One factor of the increase in “nones” is that this might mean less money in Sunday collection plates.

  • http://mostlyrational.net tacitus

    No one else has said it, so I will. The growth of “nones” seems to parallel the growth of the Internet.

    True, but the trend is almost all due to successive increasingly secular-thinking generations emerging into their twenties, and reflects what happened in other western nations in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, before the Internet was the dominant force in communications it is today. (If you study the Pew charts from previous surveys, religious adherence barely changes from decade to decade within each generation. The good news is, this means the trend away from religion is likely to continue as new generations are raised by more secular leaning parents.)

    So while it’s possible that the Internet is a contributing factor, it may be that the trend was inevitable, and that it was only delayed for so long in the United States by the more conservative nature of the population as a whole.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    @ tacitus

    How about we call the Internet an accelerant?

  • Scr… Archivist

    You can see the questions in some PDF’s linked from here: http://www3.norc.org/NR/rdonlyres/21403184-C064-4E20-944F-0CFCABC9BB5E/2018/GSS2014Questionnaire.html

    It looks very complicated, and including computer code, but I think I can recognize the typical kind of language that goes with opinion surveys. This might show us the exact wording of the questions and the options provided to the respondent. Look at the file called “2014 GSS V1”.

    On page 125:

    RELIG: Categorical (Single)

    What is your religious preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?

    Categories:

    {protestant}Protestant

    {catholic}Catholic

    {jewish}Jewish

    {none}None

    {other_specify}OTHER (SPECIFY RELIGION AND/OR CHURCH DENOMINATION )

    {dontknow}DON’T KNOW

    {refused}REFUSED

    . If RELIG.ContainsAny({none}) Then

    . GoTo RELIG16

    The question called “RELIG16” asks in what religion the respondent was raised.

    A lot of the other questions in this part of the document follow from the religious options, drilling down through denominations and such.

    Then on page 141 we get some other interesting questions that might clarify what “Nones” think:

    POSTLIFE: Categorical (Single)

    Now turning to a different topic: Do you believe there is a life after death?

    Categories:

    {yes}Yes

    {no}No

    {undecided}UNDECIDED

    {dontknow}DON’T KNOW

    {refused}REFUSED

    PRAY: Categorical (Single)

    About how often do you pray? USE CATEGORIES AS PROBES IF NECESSARY.

    DO NOT USE ‘NEVER’ RESPONSE WHEN PROBING.

    Categories:

    {several_times_a_day}SEVERAL TIMES A DAY

    {once_a_day}ONCE A DAY

    {several_times_a_week}SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK

    {once_a_week}ONCE A WEEK

    Finally, on pages 142-144, we have these other clarifying questions:

    GOD: Categorical (Single)

    Please look at this card and tell me which of the statements comes closest to expressing what you believe about God.

    Categories:

    {_1}1. I don’t believe in God

    {_2}2. I don’t know whether there is a God and I don’t believe there is any

    way to find out

    {_3}3. I don’t believe in a personal God, but do believe in a Higher Power

    of some kind

    {_4}4. I find myself believing in God some of the time, but not at others

    {_5}5. While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God

    {_6}6. I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it

    {dontknow}DON’T KNOW

    {refused}REFUSED

    RELPERSN: Categorical (Single)

    To what extent do you consider yourself a religious person? Are you very religious, moderately religious, slightly religious, or not religious at all?

    Categories:

    {very_religious}Very religious

    {moderately_religious}Moderately religious

    {slightly_religious}Slightly religious

    {not_religious_at_all}Not religious at all

    {dontknow}DON’T KNOW

    {refused}REFUSED

    SPRTPRSN: Categorical (Single)

    To what extent do you consider yourself a spiritual person? Are you very spiritual, moderately spiritual,

    slightly spiritual, or not spiritual at all?

    Categories:

    {very_spiritual}Very spiritual

    {moderately_spiritual}Moderately spiritual

    {slightly_spiritual}Slightly spiritual

    {not_spiritual_at_all}Not spiritual at all

    {dontknow}DON’T KNOW

    {refused}REFUSED

    RELACTIV: Categorical (Single)

    How often do you take part in the activities and organizations of a church or place of worship other than attending service?

    Categories:

    {never}Never

    {less_than_once_a_year}Less than once a year

    {about_once_or_twice_a_year}About once or twice a year

    {several_times_a_year}Several times a year

    {about_once_a_month}About once a month

    {_23_times_a_month}2-3 times a month

    {nearly_every_week}Nearly every week

    {every_week}Every week

    {once_a_day}Once a day

    {several_times_a_day}Several times a day

    {dontknow}DON’T KNOW

    {refused}REFUSE

    —————-

    I would be interested to see a report specifically about how the “Nones” answered these questions. That might show us how many of them are atheists and agnostics, and how many are “spiritual but not religious” and such.

  • raven

    One factor of the increase in “nones” is that this might mean less money in Sunday collection plates.

    Good point. And that is exactly what is happening.

    religionnews. com: 2014

    But religious groups saw donations drop 1.6 percent from 2012 to 2013.

    That contrasts to healthy jumps in education (7.4 percent), the arts and humanities (6.3 percent) and environmental and animal groups (6 percent), according to the study released Tuesday (June 17), which Giving USA produced with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

    Behind the sad stats for religious groups, experts say, is Americans’ declining interest in religious institutions.

    The loot intake of US churches has been declining even as the Great Recession ends.

    It’s ca. 100 billion. They are desperate enough to shake down the US taxpayers for $2 billion in Bush’s Faith Based Slush Fund program.

    FWIW, the vast majority of giving to churches isn’t charity. 88% is for homeostasis, used for the church and employees. Much of the rest is for missionary activities usually targeting other xians and pass through to the denomination. I’d estimate 5% is actually charity.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    PRAY: Categorical (Single)

    About how often do you pray? USE CATEGORIES AS PROBES IF NECESSARY.

    DO NOT USE ‘NEVER’ RESPONSE WHEN PROBING.

    Categories:

    {several_times_a_day}SEVERAL TIMES A DAY

    {once_a_day}ONCE A DAY

    {several_times_a_week}SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK

    {once_a_week}ONCE A WEEK

    Hmm, this reads like I don’t have the option of answering NEVER. Of course it’s never, why would I waste my time pretending to be communicating with supernatural entities?

  • tfkreference

    @raven (earlier comments):

    Don’t forget that according to the Sermon on the Mount, True Christians are blessed for being persecuted.

  • chrisclc

    I see this poll reported on every year. I see the increase in nones and want to accept data as accurate. Yet it seems to me wherever I go, even in largely secular institutions the number of people overtly expressing their Christian beliefs and the imposition of Christian privilege seems to be on the rise; not necessarily hate-filled or even offensive except to the most sensitive people but still discomfitingly conspicuous. Once someone can casually say: “I’m an athiest” at work and reasonably expect no negative consequences, at least none that aren’t considered social unacceptable by the majority of coworkers, I’ll be more confident in the rise of the nones.

  • http://mostlyrational.net tacitus

    @chrisclc

    Even among the not-very-religious, there is still the widespread perception that statements of faith and religious piety (“I give thanks to God for my win”) demonstrate that you are a good person. Sports stars winning tournaments, actors winning awards, politicians winning election, etc. — many still do it, even if it’s more an autonomic tic these days than a sincere profession of faith.

    And in the same way that a politician has never lost an election for being too tough on crime (though I hold out hope that one day it will happen), declarations of faith are still largely penalty-free (i.e. it never hurts to use one), and among conservatives, it can be used in an attempt to not look like a bigot when opposing things like abortion and gay marriage.

    I don’t expect this to change any time soon. Even in secular nations, personal religious faith is still held in high regard by many, even though most people don’t practice it themselves. The key difference is the dwindling support and lack of respect religious organizations receive in those countries, and I think that’s what is going to make the difference here too, in time.

    I suspect we’ll find far fewer people in the next generation comfortable with open expressions of faith in the US.

  • lofgren

    I kinda wonder if the classification of “none” really means anything at all.

    Based on the growth rate of that category, it must mean something. Even if the only sure conclusion we can draw is that people are answering the question differently, that would still have meaning.

    A lot of people seem to be assuming that if these people aren’t all atheists, then this datum is irrelevant. I disagree, although other commenters have already made the points that I would make to support this.

  • dingojack

    chrisclc – congratulations! You’re realising that anecdote isn’t evidence.

    Dingo

  • doublereed

    @tacitus

    True, but the trend is almost all due to successive increasingly secular-thinking generations emerging into their twenties, and reflects what happened in other western nations in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, before the Internet was the dominant force in communications it is today. (If you study the Pew charts from previous surveys, religious adherence barely changes from decade to decade within each generation. The good news is, this means the trend away from religion is likely to continue as new generations are raised by more secular leaning parents.)

    This occurred throughout the 20th century worldwide as Governments were finally able to provide a more stable life for people with increasing socialism and welfare states. It means that people were able to rely on less immediate-community support like churches in order to get by. This removes much of the appeal of religion imo.

    The internet definitely helps though.

  • NYC atheist

    @29 tacitus

    I’m an out atheist at work and have had no problems. A few people want to proselytize, but they usually give that up pretty quickly.

    But this is in godless liberal New York, and I’m sure not typical.

  • llewelly

    Personally I’m sure the cause of the trend is D&D. There’s a wiggle in the graph at about the right time, and when I was a kid every adult I knew was sure it would lead me down the wrong path. It was invented by a pair of rather conservative christians though.

    You could blame this on all kinds of things. GMOs, organic food, growing Muslim populations, climate change, video games, pornography, the fall of communism … correlations can be found practically everwhere.

    But in the old days, spreading nonbelief was all about convincing people to read a book they didn’t want to buy or go to the library for. It was hard work. Your prospective deconvert practically always chose to watch cartoons instead.

    Today, it’s all about blogs and youtubes. That’s not nearly so difficult to get people to consume.

  • http://onhandcomments.blogspot.com/ left0ver1under

    The overly and overtly religious reached their high water mark during the Bu**sh** years, able to do and say the things they always wanted to, and to the people they didn’t like. Young people have seen organized (and directed) religion for what it is: organized in the same way that crime is organized. And they don’t like it.

    If they’re not abandoning religious belief but basing it solely on their own view, that’s not really a problem. Individuals are rarely a danger to more than a few people at a time, and usually they’ll keep it to themselves, which is what a secular state is. It takes the organization of millions to make religion dangerous. And when they have those numbers, they start trying to impose it on others.

  • anubisprime

    Which any way it is sliced and diced the unmistakable trend trumpets loud and clear the death knell for organized xtian religion as the movers groovers and shakers that have preferential influence in governmental policy and as the de facto head honchos in society in general.

    United they stand divided they fall and all that…and the disease is apparent even in the so called moderate church both sides of the delusional pillar they all rest their heads upon.

    The C of E for example is riven these days with internecine warfare between the traditionalists who are re-living the ‘Cricket on a Sunday, village green, another piece of cake vicar?, visitor to the big house, that’s nice, ride to hounds vicar?, middle England in the 50’s, owner of libraries and primary schools’ meme. and the evangelical born again fundamentalists that are reliving the dark ages in both attitude and desire.

    All made more fractious by the legions of fundy oversea wings of jeebus-b-uz that are still haunted by the missionary zeal of the 1800’s and the specter of witch doctor.

    Th Catholic church are equally at each others throats, as Franny as found out to his cost some might say.

    A church dominated by geriatric clowns not quite over the abandonment of the inquisition is all its glory and the realization that what once was is no more!

    They are in the main content to finish their watch without any change to their beloved delusion, and how it is worshiped, and will fight like psychotic shithouse rats to maintain that status quo…

    The pragmatic feeling among the grass roots that change and accountability must be faced sooner rather then later, has been ignored and silenced up until now although it would appear that even in the enclaves they are aware of the withering on the vine status of the power and influence of their own church.

    Seems the end times loom large in many a theist nightmare…they deny and obfuscate as fast as they can spin and lie, but the reality is plain…they are fucked…and they know it!

    It might well take just a generation or two more, but the die is cast, they are dying.

    It might well be the way of social psychology that leaving organized religion is always followed by a stint in trying to rationalize some other spiritual refuge.

    Maybe more decompression then ridding oneself of irrational and frankly ludicrous feelings of ‘something beyond’

    It is highly likely that they would be represented in the stats given, to what extent is another tale, but possibly a significant percentage, until detailed polls give a clearer breakdown know one really knows but the likelihood of jumping from organized religion to rationality and secular-hood without a drogue chute is unlikely it would seem.

  • dingojack

    llewelly – “GMOs, …”

    Hate to break it to you but humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals for perhaps as long as 40,000 years

    “… organic food, …”

    In that most foods contain naturally created carbon compouds…

    “… growing Muslim populations, …”

    So since the 7th century ce then

    “… climate change, …”

    For at least 4.55 billion years then

    “… video games, …”

    Since Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann’s Cathode Ray Amusement Device patented on 25th of January, 1947

    “… pornography,…”

    Probably pre-dating writing (you’re not related to the former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, by any chance?)

    “… the fall of communism…”

    OK — one out of seven….

    😉

    Dingo

  • eric

    Anubisprime @36:

    Which any way it is sliced and diced the unmistakable trend trumpets loud and clear the death knell for organized xtian religion

    That may be a bit premature. What goes up can come down, and the US has seen two to four “great awakenings” (periods where religiosity increases significantly) in the last three hundred years. Certainly for nonbelievers it’s a good sign, but IMO anyone (us, them, whomever) who thinks the victory of their ideology is somehow historically inevitable rather than the result of blood, sweat, and tears is fooling themselves. I hate to be the curmudgeon on this, but no it is not guaranteed that the internet’s access to other people will kill religion. No it is not guaranteed that each generation will be less religious than the one before it. And so on. If we want that result, we are going to have to work for it.

  • dingojack

    Anubisprime @36: “Which any way it is sliced and diced the unmistakable trend trumpets loud and clear the death knell for organized xtian religion”.

    I like my metaphors mixed – not scrambled! 😀

    Dingo

  • heddle

    I always like in this discussion to point out that a contributing factor (how big? who knows?) that is a win-win. And that is when non-Christians no longer feel sufficient familial and societal pressure to self-identify as Christians. (As I did, when I was in fact an atheist. Back then, when asked my religion, I said “Christian” even though I was a non-believer.) Credit goes in large part to the rise of popular atheism and people like Dawkins. It’s a win-win because it is also good for us to get non-believers out of the pews. Church is no place for committed non-believers who already know the gospel and reject it. If you are curious or seeking (whatever that means) that’s fine. But if you are only there because you feel some kind of pressure to be there–then better for you and better for us if you leave.

    So how much of the exodus is due to deconversion (setting aside that as a Calvinist I don’t think that is possible–but let’s take it at face value–and anyway I could be wrong) and how much is it due to a relaxation of pressure to conform? Does anyone have a clue? (Seriously–that’s not meant to be a snarky question.)

    As an aside, the Calvinists have their own versions of Dawkins, Harris, et. al. These would be people like Piper, Sproul, Dever, etc. They are causing a rise of neo-Calvinism, such that every Reformed Baptist church (and campus group) that I’ve spoken to over the last ten years reports an increase in attendance made up almost entirely of young (20’s, 30’s) people. A quick search will also show that the non-Calvinists have taken notice of this trend (and are alarmed.)

    What’s left after equilibrium is established is obviously a smaller (perhaps much smaller) number of self-identified Christians, but they are likely to be a conservative core. It will be another “win” if the drop in number of self-identified Christians removes the misplaced boldness some of my brothers and sisters have had in playing politics and fighting the culture war (which everyone on both sides knoes they lost.)

  • abb3w

    @19, Kamaka

    No one else has said it, so I will. The growth of “nones” seems to parallel the growth of the Internet.

    @22, tacitus

    So while it’s possible that the Internet is a contributing factor, it may be that the trend was inevitable, and that it was only delayed for so long in the United States by the more conservative nature of the population as a whole.

    While the common wisdom agrees more with the former, that should raise your suspicion; it “seems” so only if you’ve not been paying attention long enough. The latter appears to hold up better when scrutinizing the data. The rise of the Nones is first and foremost generational, with contemporary data seeming to have a logistic curve on birth cohort; such a inter-generational difference can also be seen even in the 1970s GSS data, when the Internet had less than 100 machines and probably no more than 10000 users.

    What may be more precisely accurate is that the rise of the World Wide Web helped neutralize the suppressing effect of the religious right. In the 1980s during the heyday of Falwell and company, most of the cohorts became temporarily less likely to put themselves in the “Nones”; but circa 1993 or so, the older cohorts began to rapidly revert to pre-1980s levels of irreligious, and the younger cohorts continued the logistic curve shift begun by their elders as if Falwell had never happened.

    @26ish, Kamaka:

    Hmm, this reads like I don’t have the option of answering NEVER.

    The coding allows that response, and it’s a significant fraction, but it may be a response which has to be volunteered by the interviewee — they won’t prompt with that category.

    @38ish, eric

    What goes up can come down, and the US has seen two to four “great awakenings” (periods where religiosity increases significantly) in the last three hundred years.

    True, people should expect this trend to slow some point well before full saturation. Contrariwise, if you’re looking at cycle theory on the lines of Strauss and Howe, the timing strongly suggests that the rise of the religious right in the 1980s wasn’t a “great awakening”; rather, it looks more like it was the invariably following backsurge — against the “great awakening” of the 1960s and 1970s “spiritual but not religious” flavored Consciousness Revolution. If the trend is towards decreasingly religious “awakenings”, we might have an “Agnostic Awakening” to look forward to in circa 2040 or so.

    @40, heddle

    They are causing a rise of neo-Calvinism, such that every Reformed Baptist church (and campus group) that I’ve spoken to over the last ten years reports an increase in attendance made up almost entirely of young (20’s, 30’s) people.

    Possibly. Alternatively, it may be that they’re over-hyping the shift, or in part be the result of consolidation of smaller churches into larger ones. There’s a polling report here from the Barna Group, but it doesn’t address whether the absolute numbers of such churches have changed. While the Barna data indicate that pastors report the church sizes are up among Calvinists, the GSS shows protestants are a smaller overall fraction of the US population.

  • samgardner

    Huddle, most Christians actually don’t mind non believers (committed our otherwise) sitting in the pews. If they did, they wouldn’t support things like forced prayer in schools (which they have in the fairly recent past), and would be much less committed to keeping a reference to their deity in the pledge.

    So while you personally might consider that a win, most of them wouldn’t.

  • dingojack

    Pew Research Surveys on the subject of religion show that Calvinists are increasing (slightly) but mainly by poaching from other denominations (mostly other Protestants). And that they are losing suckers parishioners to the ‘nones’ at an alarming rate in adulthood

    Dingo

  • lldayo

    The rise of the internet is largely responsible IMO. People are able to see what others believe outside of their circle of friends and family. They can also come across information that challenges their long held beliefs (biblical inaccuracies, science facts), things they may not have seen otherwise. Even the graph shows an increase starting in the early 1990s when the internet was first truly taking off.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    samgardner,

    If they did, they wouldn’t support things like forced prayer in schools

    That’s nonsense. A majority of Christians support allowing prayer in public schools. I would like your reference that supports your claim that a majority of Christians support forced prayer in public schools.

  • abb3w

    @44, lldayo

    The rise of the internet is largely responsible IMO.

    Your opinion can’t even fully muster a post hoc for its propter hoc, as closer scrutiny of the 1970s data shows.

  • abb3w

    @45, heddle

    I would like your reference that supports your claim that a majority of Christians support forced prayer in public schools.

    You can play with the GSS variables PRAYERY (for 1974), PRAYER (1974-2014), and filter on RELIG (values 1,2,10, and 11 are Christian). The reponses for 1974 seem to indicate that a third of Christians thought it should be mandatory nationally; furthermore, while about a third said they agreed with the SCOTUS ruling using the PRAYER wording, only one-in-ten actually agreed with the SCOTUS that states and local districts should not have the option when explicitly asked using the PRAYERY wording, suggesting that the PRAYER response overstates support for what the Supreme Court has said is actually allowed.

    The Approval/Disapproval level for PRAYER among Christians has oscillated a bit since the early 1970, but has not shifted substantially. It thus seems likely that the responses on PRAYERY would be similar, were it to be asked again, with at least three-in-ten Christians thinking it should just simply be mandatory nationwide, and more than half thinking that states or districts should be allowed to mandate such prayers or Bible readings.

    I’m doubtful that fully lines up with samgardner‘s thesis, but at the very least it points to a very large minority of US Christians supporting it.

  • Childermass

    Nones demographic grows or is it those who admit to being a none continues to grow. I strongly suspect the latter especially if you include those who only showed up in a church to please family, friends, colleagues, voters, etc.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    abb3w #47

    Possibly, possibly not. Given cultural shifts it would not be surprising to me if support for mandating prayer has not declined faster than support for allowing or accommodating moment-of-silence prayer, in a “let’s give up one to preserve the other” fashion. But I don’t know.

    In any case–interesting.

  • abb3w

    @48, Childermass

    Nones demographic grows or is it those who admit to being a none continues to grow. I strongly suspect the latter especially if you include those who only showed up in a church to please family, friends, colleagues, voters, etc.

    If you look at “RELITEN”, it would seem most of the progress (and most of the impact of the religious right) was at the interface between the “Nones” and those “Not very strong” in religious affiliation, suggesting that’s part of it. Contrariwise, those who characterize their affiliation as “strong” seems to be on the downswing — so it seems there probably is an underlying attitude shift rather than just change in survey response.

    @49, heddle

    Possibly, possibly not. Given cultural shifts it would not be surprising to me if support for mandating prayer has not declined faster than support for allowing or accommodating moment-of-silence prayer, in a “let’s give up one to preserve the other” fashion. But I don’t know.

    That looks like you didn’t check the wording on the questions (or looked at the wrong variable); rather than “moment of silence”, PRAYER specifically asks about “requiring reading of the Lord’s Prayer or Bible verses in public schools”, and survey data explicitly indicates support there has remained relatively constant among Christians rather than declining. Alternatively, perhaps you’re forgetting that the “cultural shift” includes a change in how much of the population is Christian. Support in the overall population has declined some, tied to the rise of the Nones; however, like the Christians, Nones similarly have remained relatively constant — albeit in opposition rather than support.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    abb3w,

    I’m a pinhead. For the life of me I don’t see how to extract the number who want the Lord’s Prayer to be required as a function of year. I seem the same 1/3 number that appears to be cumulative in both links. How did you see what the number was in 2012 (or 2014) vice 1974? Help!

  • abb3w

    heddle,

    For the life of me I don’t see how to extract the number who want the Lord’s Prayer to be required as a function of year

    Using the SDA interface, enter “PRAYER” as the Row variable versus “YEAR” for the Column, click “Run Table” and look at the table that comes up in the pop-up window. The default SDA table options give percentage within columns and weighted N; if you want, you can check the box for 95% confidence intervals. For Christian-specific results, you can also add as a Filter variable “RELIG(1,2,10,11)” — the Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and generic “Christian” responses. To be fancy, you can also specify PRAYER(1-9) to include the “don’t know” and “not appropriate” responses.

    Note, “PRAYER” is specifically for approve versus disapprove of the SCOTUS ruling regarding the Lord’s Prayer etc. If you’re hoping for the required vs local decision vs prohibited breakdown, that’s in the PRAYERY variant — which was only asked in 1974. However, since there has not been significant shift for either Christians or Nones for PRAYER over the years, I infer that the variant would likely have similar lack-of-change within those sub-groups.