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Why Many Americans Are Leaving Faith Behind

One out of four Americans now describe their religious affiliation as being "None." What is behind this shift in American spiritual demographics? (credit: PRRI, at http://prri.og)

One out of four Americans now describe their religious affiliation as being “None.” What is behind this shift in American spiritual demographics? (credit: PRRI, at http://prri.og)

I do not know about you, but most of the people I interact with on a day-to-day basis, live their lives as though faith in God does not matter. Sure, a number of them go to church, but what happens on Sunday makes little to no difference with what goes on the other six days a week. Now, a growing number of people I know have given up on the pretense about faith: they simply describe their faith, or “religious affiliation” as being “none.”

A recent survey conducted by PRRI.org, a Washington-based research group, observes that the number of those who consider themselves as being “religiously unaffiliated” has grown to its highest level in American history. Young people below the age of 18 are more likely to abandon their faith than others. But even more startling is the conclusion proposed by PRRI: most of these unaffiliated persons will probably never return back to their childhood faith.

Here are the primary reasons listed as to why these Americans are leaving their faith (some leave for multiple reasons):

  • Stopped believing in the religion’s teachings (60%)
  • Family was never that religious growing up (32%)
  • Negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people (29%)
  • The clergy sexual-abuse scandal (in the Catholic church) (19%)
  • Traumatic personal event in life (18%)
  • Church became too focused on politics (16%)

In particular, the survey notes that those who come from families that experience divorce are more likely to become disaffiliated from their faith than those from traditional family structures.

Read the survey here.

An earlier survey, published in August, 2016, by the Pew Research Center, makes similar observations.

Have you noticed this growing trend among your coworkers, neighbors, and family members?


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