Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Yesterday, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a new study, the ” U.S. Religious Landscape Survey .” It’s a fairly comprehensive study, coming in at 148 pages and featuring 35,000 interviews. The basic gist is that religious life and practice in America is robust, diverse, and fluid. 85% of Americans are affiliated with a religious tradition, only 4% report themselves to be atheist or agnostic, 44% of adults have changed the religion/denomination of their youth, and the largest “winner” in the religious marketplace is the unaffiliated. (“People moving into the unaffiliated category outnumber those moving out of the unaffiliated group by more than a three-to-one margin. At the same time, however, a substantial number of people (nearly 4% of the overall adult population) say that as children they were unaffiliated with any particular religion but have since come to identify with a religious group. This means that more than half of people who were unaffiliated with any particular religion as a child now say that they are associated with a religious group.”)

The report also has interesting data on “next-generation” religious views (one quarter are unaffiliated) and the break-up of American Protestantism (now accounting for only 51% of the population—-and the demographics aren’t looking good: “more than six-in-ten Americans age 70 and older (62%) are Protestant but that this number is only about four-in-ten (43%) among Americans ages 18-29”). One factoid immediately jumped out at me: “While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic. These losses would have been even more pronounced were it not for the offsetting impact of immigration. . . . Approximately one-third of the survey respondents who say they were raised Catholic no longer describe themselves as Catholic. This means that roughly 10% of all Americans are former Catholics.”

You can read Pew’s summary of the report here , the AP’s coverage here , and the LA Times here .



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles