The number of Americans who do not identify with any particular religion continues to increase rapidly according to newly released data from Pew Research. One-fifth of the U.S. public–and about a third of adults under 30–are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
In the last five years the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Among them are more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who claim to have no particular religious affiliation. That number represents 14% of the population.
What makes this even more troubling for followers or Christ is that 88% of the “nones” are not looking for any kind of religious system.
“Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics,” says Pew.
While the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown significantly over the past five years, the Protestant share of the population has shrunk. In 2007, 53% of adults in Pew Research Center surveys described themselves as Protestants. In surveys conducted in the first half of 2012, fewer than half of American adults say they are Protestant (48%). This marks the first time in Pew Research Center surveys that the Protestant share of the population has dipped significantly below 50%.
The decline is concentrated among white Protestants, both evangelical and mainline. Currently, 19% of U.S. adults identify themselves as white, born-again or evangelical Protestants, down slightly from 21% in 2007. And 15% of adults describe themselves as white Protestants but say they are not born-again or evangelical Christians, down from 18% in 2007. There has been no change in minority Protestants’ share of the population over the past five years.
Thinking about the religiously unaffiliated people you know, what are their reasons for not seeking God? Or, is it God they seek outside of a religious connection?