Large majority of Americans see religious influence in decline, poll finds

By David Edwards
Thursday, December 30, 2010 14:50 EDT
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Church membership tied for all-time low

Most Americans feel that the influence of religion is waning in the US, according to a recent poll.

The Gallup organization found that seven in ten Americans think religion is losing influence, one of the highest responses in the 53-year history of the poll.

The survey found that only 25 percent of Americans believe that religion is gaining influence, while an additional two percent see it as unchanged.

The findings represent a major swing from the first part of the decade. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, only four in ten found religion was losing influence and 55 percent said it was gaining influence.

The new results are on par with last year’s poll. The only time a Gallup survey has found higher numbers was in 1970, when 75 percent of Americans reported that religion was losing influence.

Over the past sixty years, Gallup has found a slow decline in reported membership to churches and synagogues. The number peaked at 76 percent in 1946 and tied an all-time low of 61 percent this year.

The polling organization found at least one stable trend in its religious survey. For the past thirty years, a majority of Americans have said that religion is “very important” in their lives.

Gallup based their results on interviews with 2048 adults, taken May 3-6 and December 10-12. There is a sampling error of +/- 3 percent.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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