U.S. Becoming Less Christian, Study Finds; Unaffiliated Group Grows

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The share of Americans who do not identify with a religion has grown dramatically and now surpasses every affiliation except evangelical Protestants, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The Pew Research Center found that 22.8 percent of Americans were religiously unaffiliated last year — up from 16.1 percent in 2007. That group includes atheists, agnostics and those who chose “nothing in particular.”

Evangelical Protestants made up 25.4 percent of the adult population, down slightly from 26.3 percent in 2007. Catholics declined to 20.8 percent from 23.9 percent, and mainline Protestants to 14.7 percent from 18.1 percent.

In all, roughly seven in 10 Americans identified with some branch of Christianity, down from almost eight in 10 in 2007. The share of Americans who identify with a non-Christian faith grew to 5.9 percent, with pronounced growth among Muslims and Hindus.

Pew found that the drop in Christian affiliation held for all age groups but especially among young adults.

The survey was conducted over four months last year and included 35,000 adults.


— Erin McClam