The General Social Survey is one of the most comprehensive data sets out there when it comes to the religious beliefs of Americans, and the 2014 results were just released last week.
You’ll be happy to know that the trend away from organized religion is still on the upswing:
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 23 percent, three points up from 2012.
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.
Obviously, atheists only make up a fraction of the “Nones,” so we’re not necessarily talking about a huge rise in people who don’t believe in a god, only those who no longer use a religious label. But still. The fewer people who identify with organized religion, the better off we all are.
Now if only we could figure out how to use those numbers to our advantage politically, we might actually get somewhere…
P.S.: I would love to include a graph showing the dramatic rise in “Nones”… but Religion News Service has a policy not allowing anyone else to republish their charts, even with proper attribution and links, because I guess they don’t want their posts traveling any further than their own site.
I understand that reasoning, but it makes people like me much less likely to link back to them in the first place. RNS should just watermark the charts with their URL and let them spread. That’s how everyone else does it.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)