While nearly 80 percent of Americans were “convinced” just over a decade ago that God exists, only 64 percent of Americans today are so strongly persuaded in their belief in God, a new analysis from Gallup says.
Citing responses the question of belief in God asked in three different ways in recent years, Gallup found that when respondents were simply asked “Do you believe in God?,” some 87 percent of respondents say “yes.” When asked if they were “convinced” that God exists, that number dropped to 64 percent.
“The array of Gallup results leads to the conclusion that putting a percentage on Americans' belief in God depends on how you define ‘belief.’ If the standard is absolute certainty — no hedging and no doubts — it's somewhere around two-thirds. If the standard is a propensity to believe rather than not to believe, then the figure is somewhere north of three-quarters,” Gallup’s Zach Hrynowski said.
Gallup’s analysis comes on the heels of a new study from the Pew Research Center in October that says only 65 percent of Americans now identify as Christian.
The study showed significant growth among Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated — a group which includes atheists, agnostics and people who don’t identify with any religion.
This group now represents 26 percent of the population. The drop in the number of Americans identifying as Christian reflected a 12 percent decline when compared to the general population 10 years ago. The decline was visible across multiple demographics but particularly among young adults.
Latest research from the General Social Survey shows an even more dire state in the number of Americans who are convinced that God exists without a doubt.
Figures from that survey showed 65 percent of Americans said they were convinced of God’s existence in 1993 while only 53 percent said they know God exists and had no doubts in 2018.
In a recent report from the series “Leaving Christianity” by The Christian Post, it was pointed out that millions of Americans who were once committed Christians have continued to increasingly disengage with their religion in recent decades, and churches have been struggling with the culture shift in which there are no absolute answers.
Ryan Burge, an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and pastor of First Baptist Church of Mt. Vernon, Illinois, also noted in another recent report published by the Barna Group, that younger generations raised in the church are also no longer typically returning to church when compared with members of the “Baby boomer” generation born between 1945 and 1964.
“Many pastors are standing at the pulpit on Sunday morning and seeing fewer and fewer of their former youth group members returning to the pews when they move into their late-20s and early-30s. No church should assume that this crucial part of the population is going to return to active membership as their parents once did,” he explained.
“The data is speaking a clear message: the assumptions that undergirded church growth from two decades ago no longer apply. If churches are sitting back and just waiting for all their young people to flood back in as they move into their 30s, they are likely in for a rude awakening. Inaction now could be creating a church that does not have a strong future,” he said.