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Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Study: Southerners, ethnic minorities catching up to the rest of American society in parting with religion

A new analysis from UC Berkley confirms some of the data we have seen already: Americans are abandoning religion fast.

Those most likely to be unaffiliated: the youth, political liberals, those living on the Pacific coast or in the Northeast, and those with advanced education. But interesting, even among groups that used to show lowest rates of lack of religious affiliation (those living in the South and ethnic minorities) very impressive shifts are observed.

And the high numbers of religiously unaffiliated (as would be expected) reflect those abandoning their religious upbringing, as in the previous decades, the society was a lot more religious, and today’s unaffiliated were raised with religion. This trend is nowhere more pronounced than among the catholics (and to some extent liberal protestants), whereas conservative protestants are slightly gaining.

As always, belief in God is a more complex question, and answers depend on how it is asked.

The first two groups together would represent atheists and agnostics, making up about 9% of the public and roughly matching previous estimates (36% of 20%, or about 7% of the total, in the Pew American Values Survey). The third group, roughly matching a deistic or Jeffersonian viewpoint, is the one showing the biggest uptick. Again, numbers for the secular groups (first 3) more or less match the numbers we have seen before. And the biggest losing group in this table is the last one: those having the highest confidence in existence of God showing the biggest decline.

Overall the picture looks good. The catholic church is losing out; the youth are abandoning religion in droves; and traditionally religious geographical and ethnic groups also showing significant progress.

Somehow I don’t think this is going to make Gallup all so happy.

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