Poll: Fewer Americans May Be Celebrating Christmas This Year

A new poll by Gallup confirms earlier reports that fewer Americans are identifying with Christianity and more are claiming no religious affiliation.

Survey results, released Thursday, show that 56 percent of Americans say they are Protestant or some non-Catholic Christian, down from 69 percent in 1948. And 22 percent identify as Catholic.

Meanwhile the percentage of American adults who don't identify with any specific religion has risen from only 2 percent 60 years ago to 13 percent today.

Notably, more Americans identify with a religion that is not specifically classified as Christian. Currently, 9 percent of adults place themselves in this non-Christian religion category, up from 4 percent six decades ago.

The Gallup findings parallel with results from the widely cited and publicized American Religious Identification Survey, which was released in March. ARIS revealed that Americans claiming no religion, or "Nones," grew from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008. It also showed that Christianity was declining with 76 percent saying they are Christian, down from 86.2 percent in the 1990s. ARIS results were based on over 54,000 interviews in 2008.

With the decrease in religious identity in America, Gallup also found a drop in the percentage of those who say they are a member of a church or synagogue. Only 63 percent say they are a member, down from 73 percent in 1937.

In other findings, fewer people believe religion can answer all or most of today's problems. Only 57 percent agree, a drop from 82 percent in 1957. Twenty-nine percent, up from 7 percent, say religion is largely old-fashioned and out of date.

Fifty-six percent of adults say religion is "very important" in their lives and 19 percent say it's "not very important," up from 5 percent in 1952.

Though the majority of Americans identify with Christianity, Gallup suggests that in theory the percentage of Americans who could celebrate Christmas this week is down significantly from where it was 60 years ago.

Gallup also notes, "The fact that fewer Americans say they have a religious identity does not necessarily mean there has been a decrease in overall religiosity in America. It is possible that some proportion of those who don't identify with a specific religion are still personally or spiritually religious."