Green Room

Gallup: Rise of religious “nones” in U.S. slowed in 2012

posted at 12:31 pm on January 10, 2013 by

Has America reached “peak atheist”?

Across the past five years, the biggest jumps in “nones” occurred between 2009 and 2010 and between 2010 and 2011 — an increase of 1.1 percentage points each between the two years. In absolute terms, 15.3% of the population had no explicit religious identity in 2009, compared with 17.5% in 2011.

The rate of change between 2011 and 2012, however, slowed to a 0.3-point increase — from 17.5% to 17.8%. These estimates are based on 353,492 interviews in 2011 and 353,571 interviews in 2012.

It is not clear what this slowed rate of change in no religious identity is attributable to, or if it signifies a lasting shift in the trend. There are a number of broad changes taking place in American society, including the inexorable aging of the huge baby boom generation born between 1946 and 1964, the ebbs and flows of the economy, changes in demographic patterns of immigration, migration among states, fertility, and marriage, and more abstract changes in the culture. All of these patterns are related to religion in some way.

I can’t come up with an explanation so I’m inclined to attribute the slowdown to statistical noise. I do think there probably is such a thing as “peak atheism” (or, more accurately, “peak unaffiliated”) in a country as religious as the U.S., but I also don’t think we’ve hit it yet. Follow the link up top and check out which groups are the most and least likely to say they have no religious affiliation. The 18-to-29 group is tied for first at 27%; the 65+ demographic is second to last (ahead of Republicans only) at 10%. Unless and until a new revival movement begins, population replacement should keep pushing the numbers up.

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Wasn’t there a poll in the last several months where a small percentage of “atheists” said they believed in God?

gwelf on January 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

We choose to answer to either God or government as the ultimate holder of all power. The difference is God will temporarily let us not obey without consequences. Government? Not so much.

MelonCollie on January 10, 2013 at 12:49 PM

just a bump on the road towards the fulfillment of our evil lord plans! muahahahhahaha!MUAHAHAHHAHAHA!

nathor on January 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Wasn’t there a poll in the last several months where a small percentage of “atheists” said they believed in God?

gwelf on January 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Possibly they were confused and thought that ‘theism’ referred to organised religion only?

aengus on January 10, 2013 at 3:21 PM