Gallup Finds Huge Drop in People Who Belong to a Specific Christian Denomination

A new report from Gallup shows that the percentage of Americans who identify with some specific religious denomination is lower than ever before.

In 2000, 50% of Americans said they were Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, etc. By 2016, that number had dropped to 30%.

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If you’re religious, there’s an optimistic way to look at this decline: All those people may not be part of an particular denomination, but they may have just become non-denominational Christians. The kind you see at a lot of evangelical megachurches. So people just shifted laterally!

The numbers don’t match up with that explanation, though.

When it comes to non-denominational Christians, the numbers went from 9% in 2000 to 17% in 2016, a rise of only 8%. Where did everyone else go?

They left organized religion altogether.

The “Nones” jumped from 10% to 20% in that same time period. (Yes, many of them still believe in God, but they want nothing to do with any kind of organized religion.)

Gallup notes:

These trends indicate that, while many Americans remain religious in a broad sense and may continue to seek spiritual guidance and community experience, a formal structure in which to do so has become less important.

More Americans can do without that formal denominational structure — and many can do without a religious framework altogether.

That has to be disturbing news for religious leaders who thrive on the idea that religion — and their church specifically — is the best way for people to have happy, fulfilled lives. People are quickly realizing there are better alternatives out there and religion doesn’t even need to be in the mix.

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