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Poll: Do You Identify With Any Particular Religion?

February 10, 2013 Featured, Religion, Sunday Poll 22 Comments

Fewer and fewer people are identifying themselves as being part of a recognized religion:

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether. (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life)

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: U.S, Religious Landscape Study is interesting reading, to me at least.

ABOVE: Former St. Aloysius May 2006
ABOVE: Former St. Aloysius May 2006

Highlights in the report include

  • Men are significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation. Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13% of women.
  • Among people who are married, nearly four-in-ten (37%) are married to a spouse with a different religious affiliation. (This figure includes Protestants who are married to another Protestant from a different denominational family, such as a Baptist who is married to a Methodist.) Hindus and Mormons are the most likely to be married (78% and 71%, respectively) and to be married to someone of the same religion (90% and 83%, respectively).
  • Mormons and Muslims are the groups with the largest families; more than one-in-five Mormon adults and 15% of Muslim adults in the U.S. have three or more children living at home.
  • The Midwest most closely resembles the religious makeup of the overall population. The South, by a wide margin, has the heaviest concentration of members of evangelical Protestant churches. The Northeast has the greatest concentration of Catholics, and the West has the largest proportion of unaffiliated people, including the largest proportion of atheists and agnostics.
  • Of all the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States, black Americans are the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Even among those blacks who are unaffiliated, three-in-four belong to the “religious unaffiliated” category (that is, they say that religion is either somewhat or very important in their lives), compared with slightly more than one-third of the unaffiliated population overall.
  • Nearly half of Hindus in the U.S., one-third of Jews and a quarter of Buddhists have obtained post-graduate education, compared with only about one-in-ten of the adult population overall. Hindus and Jews are also much more likely than other groups to report high income levels.
  • People not affiliated with any particular religion stand out for their relative youth compared with other religious traditions. Among the unaffiliated, 31% are under age 30 and 71% are under age 50. Comparable numbers for the overall adult population are 20% and 59%, respectively.
  • By contrast, members of mainline Protestant churches and Jews are older, on average, than members of other groups. Roughly half of Jews and members of mainline churches are age 50 and older, compared with approximately four-in-ten American adults overall.
  • In sharp contrast to Islam and Hinduism, Buddhism in the U.S. is primarily made up of native-born adherents, whites and converts. Only one-in-three American Buddhists describe their race as Asian, while nearly three-in-four Buddhists say they are converts to Buddhism.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religious tradition. Only 37% of all those who say they were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses still identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • Members of Baptist churches account for one-third of all Protestants and close to one-fifth of the total U.S. adult population. Baptists also account for nearly two-thirds of members of historically black Protestant churches.

This changing religious landscape, along with a huge drop in population, has left St. Louis with many vacant & underutilized churches.  More on this on Wednesday February 20th when I present the results of this week’s poll.

The poll asks how you identify, the options are:

  1. Christian – Protestant
  2. Christian – Catholic
  3. Christian – Mormon
  4. Christian – Jehovah’s Witness
  5. Christian – Other
  6. Jewish
  7. Buddhist
  8. Muslim
  9. Hindu
  10. Other
  11. Unaffiliated – Atheist
  12. Unaffiliated -Agnostic
  13. Unaffiliated -Secular
  14. Unaffiliated -Religious
  15. Don’t Know/Rather Not Say

The poll is in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "22 comments" on this Article:

  1. Eric says:

    Do vacant churches get demolished at the same frequency as vacant housing units?

  2. guest says:

    Vacant churches are equally subject to demolition by neglect. Bethlehem Lutheran at Salisbury and N. Florissant case in point. While the historic church slowly falls apart, the congregation meets in a smaller building next door. Curious where you’re headed with this thread…

  3. guest says:

    What is the difference between “unaffiliated secular” and “unaffiliated atheist”?

    • “The words atheist and secular can be easy to confuse, but they have subtly different meanings. An atheist is one who does not believe in a god, and therefore an atheist institution (for example) is one that openly holds the position that there is no god. Richard Dawkins is an atheist, and the “Out Campaign” is an atheist institution.
      Someone who is secular, by contrast, does not display any belief or religion, regardless of their actual views. A secular institution is one that does not allow religion of any form. The French and American public school systems are secular.” http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheist_vs_Secular

  4. Lance Finney says:

    Hmmm… I’m an Atheist Agnostic member of the Ethical Society. Too many applicable options…

  5. Guest says:

    Just FYI, Jewish is also an ethnicity. So I’d be an “Athiest Jew”.

  6. guest says:

    When percentage religious practice was higher in STL, the city had more residents. So does the decline in percentage religious practice foster the decline in STL? It sure leads to the decline in physical condition of churches and church-owned buildings…and some might say it leads to an increase in crime…

    • samizdat says:

      “…and some might say it leads to an increase in crime…”

      That is the biggest load of horse-crap I’ve seen at this blog.

      • Eric says:

        Agreed. Suburban areas have also declined in religiousness. On average, black people have higher religiousness and higher crime than whites.

        • moe says:

          Say what?????? I guess that comment means that Mississippi, and South Carolina must be death traps for white folk. News for you….religion and crime are generational and there is even crime in precious Wildwood and Jefferson County. It’s just different types of crime and not all crime is related to religion or lack there of.

          • eric2342 says:

            Haha, I didn’t actually mean to say that religion causes crime. I threw out some statistics that suggested that. Meanwhile, “guest” threw out some statistics that suggested the opposite. Since we now have contradictory statistics, why doesn’t everyone calm down and accept that we can’t identify a relation between religiousness and crime.

          • eric2342 says:


          • branwell1 says:

            But do you consider religious persecutions to be “crimes”? If so, then it’s clear that one can connect organized religion and its adherents with all kinds of horrible crime.

          • eric2342 says:

            Last time I checked, there was no inquisition in 21st century America. And nonreligious people have committed plenty of crimes throughout history as well.

      • branwell1 says:

        It always amuses me when someone says or implies that if only people would “be religious”, there would be less crime and violence and folks would be just plain nicer. Religion and religious fervor of all kinds is directly related to more violence, war, persecution, bloodshed and downright nasty, self-righteous behavior than any atheism I know about. Religion is a unique combination of presumption and wishful thinking. Too often, what adherents describe as “faith” is an irrational mindset that brooks no argument and requires no coherent accounting of itself.

  7. Hilary says:

    The Christian categories make no sense to me. “Christian-Protestant” would include Missouri Synod Lutherans, Southern Baptists, all the evangelicals (including Assembly of God) – AND – Episcopalians, Methodists, Unitarian Universalists, and United Church of Christ. There are other Catholics besides Roman Catholics as well. Theologically and politically, these are about as far apart as they can be, yet they are lumped together. (And why call out Jehovah’s Witnesses?) I am a liberal church going Episcopalian. My church is welcoming and diverse (although not as racially diverse as we’d like). So I’m not going to vote because I don’t want to be lumped in with the intolerants.

  8. Misha Harrison says:

    i just found your very nice site and have subscribed. I am in TGS and a lifetime St. Louisian. While I was raised Catholic, I became an atheist as soon as I graduated from DuBourg. I am still and atheist, which is what i chose in the poll, but I also call myself a daoist, which wasn’t an option.


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