The American Religious Identification Survey for 2008 was released today. The results are good news for atheists but not so good news for religion in general. As the survey puts it: “The challenge to Christianity in the U.S. does not come from other religions but rather from a rejection of all forms of organized religion”. The “No Religion” group makes up 15% of the population, up by 6.8% from the 1990 survey. An additional 11% didn’t know what religion they are or refused to answer the questions. Only Catholics and Baptists have a higher percentage of the population (15.8% and 25.1% respectively). But even those groups have shown a decline from the 1990 data. Actually most religions showed a decrease in numbers or small gains of 0.5% or less from the 1990 survey group. Those who identify as Christians have fallen from 86% in 1990 to 76% in 2008, a drop of 10%. This correlates well with 24.4% of people who think there is no god or there is no way to be sure or there is a higher power but no personal god. Of the people who identify as Christian, 44.8% (34% of the population) believe themselves to be Born Again or Evangelical Christian. Interestingly, 18% of Catholics identified as such.
The No Religion group gained in all states, even in the deep south. The New England region, at 22%, has the largest number of people identifying as No Religion followed by the Pacific Region at 20%. The deep South states of AL, KY, MS, TN had the lowest number of No Religion respondants at 10% but even this number is a doubling of the 1990 value of 5%.
A table from USA Today gives a good summary of the data but I would encourage people to look at the actual report.
The survey was based on 54,461 adults and has a margin of error of less than 0.5 percent.