Are Americans becoming less religious, or, more specifically, are we becoming less Christian? The answer seems to be yes. As we approach Constitution Day this Sunday, this new reality has implications for American Liberty.
According to data from a new survey released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute, a study of more than 100,000 Americans across the nation found that the number of those who call themselves “religious and spiritual” has declined from 59% in 2012 to 48%. Currently, just 43% of white Americans claim to be Christians and only 30% Protestants. In 1976, the numbers were 81% Christian with 55% Protestant. That’s clearly a significant drop in one generation.
PRRI found that the decline in religious observance among Americans is highest in young Americans. The non-religious or “nones” now make up 34% of all Americans under the age of 30. And young Americans who are religious and identify as Christians are a shrinking percentage. Interestingly, among religiously unaffiliated Americans, a minority (only 27%) claim to be either agnostic or atheist. It’s interesting that most Americans who identify as secular and non-religious aren’t willing to entirely reject religious beliefs.
Part of the problem with surveys like this is the fact that people’s definitions for what makes someone a Christian are constantly evolving. Hence the common delimiters such as Protestant vs. Catholic, mainline vs. evangelical, denominational vs. non-denominational, and so on. To make matters even more confusing, racial delimiters have been added.
So, the bigger question is what’s the point behind publishing this data?