Number of Americans Who Say They Have No Religion Hits Record High, Survey Finds

Parishioners worship at a predominantly African-American church in this file photo.
Parishioners worship at a predominantly African-American church in this file photo. | (Photo: Reuters/John Gress)

New data analysis on the 2014 General Social Survey conducted by NORC and the University of Chicago has found that although Americans are abandoning specific religions at record high numbers, the rate of those who said they believe in God has remained steady.

The Associated Press identified it as one of the major findings of the survey, which asked a number of wide-ranging questions of the American public. The data found that back in 1972, only 5 percent of respondents said that they have no religion, but by 2014, 21 percent said the same, which is a record high.

The number is even higher than statistics reported by Gallup, which found that 16 percent of Americans identified as nones in 2014.

The General Social Survey found, however, that only 3 percent of the respondents said that they do not believe in God, while 5 percent identified as agnostic. Another 58 expressed faith in God, while 70 percent said they believe there is life after death.

The poll also found that Americans are in favor of lowering taxes and lowering government spending, and that for the first time, the majority want marijuana to be legalized.

On its website, NORC described its mission as to "conduct high-quality social science research in the public interest. Our work is grounded in a commitment to research excellence, innovation, dissemination of data and findings, and collegiality."

Major Christian denominations have in general been reporting a decline it church attendance and membership, which was reflected in the 2014 Gallup poll.

In that survey, a record low of 37 percent of Americans said that they were part of Protestant denominations, while 23 percent said they are part of the Roman Catholic Church. Christians who refused to identify with a specific denomination stayed at 10 percent for the fourth consecutive year.

A major survey by the Pew Research Center in 2012 also found that the nones in America are on the rise, and back then made up 20 percent of the total population.

What is more, a third of adults under the age of 30 said that they have no religious affiliation, which was the highest percentage ever recorded by the group.

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