(FB 1550269987 Timestamp)
THE STATE OF RELIGION IN AMERICA (2014)
The Christian share of the population is declining and the religiously unaffiliated share is growing in all four major geographic regions of the country. Religious ânonesâ now constitute 19% of the adult population in the South (up from 13% in 2007), 22% of the population in the Midwest (up from 16%), 25% of the population in the Northeast (up from 16%) and 28% of the population in the West (up from 21%). In the West, the religiously unaffiliated are more numerous than Catholics (23%), evangelicals (22%) and every other religious group.
Whites continue to be more likely than both blacks and Hispanics to identify as religiously unaffiliated; 24% of whites say they have no religion, compared with 20% of Hispanics and 18% of blacks. But the religiously unaffiliated have grown (and Christians have declined) as a share of the population within all three of these racial and ethnic groups.
The percentage of college graduates who identify with Christianity has declined by nine percentage points since 2007 (from 73% to 64%). The Christian share of the population has declined by a similar amount among those with less than a college education (from 81% to 73%). Religious ânonesâ now constitute 24% of all college graduates (up from 17%) and 22% of those with less than a college degree (up from 16%).
More than a quarter of men (27%) now describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up from 20% in 2007. Fewer women are religious ânones,â but the religiously unaffiliated are growing among women at about the same rate as among men. Nearly one-in-five women (19%) now describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up from 13% in 2007.
Although it is low relative to other religious groups, the retention rate of the unaffiliated has increased. In the current survey, 53% of those raised as religiously unaffiliated still identify as ânonesâ in adulthood, up seven points since 2007. And among Millennials, ânonesâ actually have one of the highest retention rates of all the religious categories that are large enough to analyze in the survey.
As the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated continue to grow, they also describe themselves in increasingly secular terms. In 2007, 25% of the ânonesâ called themselves atheists or agnostics; 39% identified their religion as ânothing in particularâ and also said that religion is ânot tooâ or ânot at allâ important in their lives; and 36% identified their religion as ânothing in particularâ while nevertheless saying that religion is either âvery importantâ or âsomewhat importantâ in their lives. The new survey finds that the atheist and agnostic share of the ânonesâ has grown to 31%. Those identifying as ânothing in particularâ and describing religion as unimportant in their lives continue to account for 39% of all ânones.â But the share identifying as ânothing in particularâ while also affirming that religion is either âveryâ or âsomewhatâ important to them has fallen to 30% of all ânones.â
While the mainline Protestant share of the population is significantly smaller today than it was in 2007, the evangelical Protestant share of the population has remained comparatively stable (ticking downward slightly from 26.3% to 25.4% of the population). As a result, evangelicals now constitute a clear majority (55%) of all U.S. Protestants. In 2007, roughly half of Protestants (51%) identified with evangelical churches.
Since 2007, the share of evangelical Protestants who identify with Baptist denominations has shrunk from 41% to 36%. Meanwhile, the share of evangelicals identifying with nondenominational churches has grown from 13% to 19%.
The United Methodist Church (UMC) continues to be the largest denomination within the mainline Protestant tradition. Currently, 25% of mainline Protestants identify with the UMC, down slightly from 28% in 2007.
More than six-in-ten people in the historically black Protestant tradition identify with Baptist denominations, including 22% who identify with the National Baptist Convention, the largest denomination within the historically black Protestant tradition.
The share of the public identifying with religions other than Christianity has grown from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2014. Gains were most pronounced among Muslims (who accounted for 0.4% of respondents in the 2007 Religious Landscape Study and 0.9% in 2014) and Hindus (0.4% in 2007 vs. 0.7% in 2014).12
Roughly one-in-seven participants in the new survey (15%) were born outside the U.S., and two-thirds of those immigrants are Christians, including 39% who are Catholic. More than one-in-ten immigrants identify with a non-Christian faith, such as Islam or Hinduism.
Hindus and Jews continue to be the most highly educated religious traditions. Fully 77% of Hindus are college graduates, as are 59% of Jews (compared with 27% of all U.S. adults). These groups also have above-average household incomes. Fully 44% of Jews and 36% of Hindus say their annual family income exceeds $100,000, compared with 19% of the public overall.