Religion has taken a nosedive in America lately. In just seven years, the percentage of American citizens who hold and observe a higher power has dropped a whopping 13% according to a new international survey.
Seven years ago in 2005, roughly 73% of Americans self-identified as religious. Now, that number has sunk to 60% according to an international poll called “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism.” The poll also shows that those self-identifying as atheists in America is now 5%. Doesn’t seem like much, except that it was only 1% in 2005. According to experts, one potential explanation for the dramatic change in numbers is that 2005 clocked in just ahead of a deluge of best-selling anti-religious works by the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, reports the Washington Post. Of course, this would only account for one of potentially countless factors.
Also, one sociologist said that the poll doesn’t mean that more people are turning their backs on religion in favor of atheism, just that more atheists are coming out of the closet, so to speak.
However, pollster Barry Kosmin, the principal investigator for the ARIS report, is skeptical of the poll. He doesn’t buy such a quick and dramatic turnaround:
“The U.S. trends are what we have found and would expect, but the actual numbers are peculiar to say the least,” he said. “The drops in religiosity seem too sharp for the time period — people just don’t change their beliefs that quickly. Most of the trend away from religion has demographic causes and demography moves ‘glacially.’”
Citing potential flaws in the poll, Kosmin pointed to the results from Vietnam, which showed a 23% drop in religiosity since 2005, but no atheists to speak of.
“Eight million Communist Party members but zero atheists?” he said. “That statistic makes me very doubtful of the accuracy of the survey overall and some of the international comparisons.”
Still, the survey showed some interesting tidbits, notes Newser: China has the highest proportion of so-called “convinced atheists” at 47%. The most religious countries in the world are Ghana, Brazil, and Macedonia. The US can also call Poland, Moldova, and Saudi Arabia peers when it comes to percentage of atheists.
What do you think? Is religion on the way out? Is atheism on the rise? Which are you, religious or convinced atheist?