Last year the “rise of the nones” made headlines, as pollsters noted significant increases in the number of Americans who checked “no religion” on surveys. As the Gallup organization today summarized:
“The percentage of American adults who have no explicit religious identification averaged 17.8% in 2012, up from 14.6% in 2008 — but only slightly higher than the 17.5% in 2011. The 2011 to 2012 uptick in religious ‘nones’ is the smallest such year-to-year increase over the past five years of Gallup Daily tracking of religion in America.”
Apparently the number of nones continues to grow, but recent data show the increases are beginning to plateau. To measure the phenomenon, Gallup asked: “What is your religious preference — are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, another religion, or no religion? (If respondent names ‘another religion,’ ask:) Would that be a Christian religion or is it not a Christian religion? Religious ‘nones’ are those who respond ’no religion’ as well as those who say they don’t know or refuse to answer.
As Gallup continues, ”The rise in the religious ‘nones”’ over time is one of the most significant trends in religious measurement in the United States. Virtually all Americans in Gallup surveys conducted in the 1950s and 1960s — albeit in response to somewhat different types of questions — had a religious identity. The percentage who did not report such an identity began to rise in the 1970s and has continued to increase in the years since.
“Gallup Daily tracking, which started in 2008, encompasses about 350,000 interviews a year, and each of those interviews includes the question about religious identity. These unprecedented large samples produce annual estimates with very low margins of error, and thus the ability to look at year-to-year trends in granular detail.
“Across the past five years, the biggest jumps in “nones” occurred between 2009 and 2010 and between 2010 and 2011 — an increase of 1.1 percentage points each between the two years. In absolute terms, 15.3% of the population had no explicit religious identity in 2009, compared with 17.5% in 2011.
“The rate of change between 2011 and 2012, however, slowed to a 0.3-point increase — from 17.5% to 17.8%. These estimates are based on 353,492 interviews in 2011 and 353,571 interviews in 2012.
“It is not clear what this slowed rate of change in no religious identity is attributable to, or if it signifies a lasting shift in the trend. There are a number of broad changes taking place in American society, including the inexorable aging of the huge baby boom generation born between 1946 and 1964, the ebbs and flows of the economy, changes in demographic patterns of immigration, migration among states, fertility, and marriage, and more abstract changes in the culture. All of these patterns are related to religion in some way.”
Full story at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/159785/rise-religious-nones-slows-2012.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication