Survey: Christianity in Decline in the U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC – A new study released this month by the Pew Research Center indicates that “the religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip.” The news is not encouraging.

  • Only 65 percent of Americans self-identified as Christians, down from 77 percent a decade ago.
  • 43 percent self-identified as Protestants, down from 51 percent in the 2009 survey.
  • 25 percent of all people surveyed identified as born again, down from 28% ten years ago.

A new study by the Pew Research Center indicates that “the religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip”, a worrying decline

On the other side of the coin, those who identify as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular“ has risen from 17 percent in 2009 to 26 percent in the current results.

The independent “fact-tank” researchers said that the results reflect “the country’s broader shift away from Christianity as a whole.”

One of the earliest reviewers of the study, Greg Yoder, the Executive Director of Keys for Kids Ministries, was not surprised by the results. He noted that Christians “are being marginalized more now than ever before.”

Generationally, the research found the following percentage of decline of self-described Christians:

Group Birth Years Percentage
The Silent Generation 1928-1945 84%
Baby Boomers 1946-1964 76%
Generation X 1965-1980 67%
Millennials 1981-1996 49%

The same decline is paralleled by the responses indicating the percentage of each generation that attends religious services at least weekly.

  • Silent………………….. 50%
  • Boomer……………….. 35%
  • Gen X…………………. 32%
  • Millennials……………. 22%

Absolute Numbers

Perhaps the most unnerving data set is the one that reveals that not only are Christians declining as a percentage of the population, but also in total numbers.

The U.S. adult population in 2009 was 233 million.

As of July 1, 2019, the adult population in the U.S. was 256 million, an increase of 23 percent.

In 2009, 77 percent identified as Christians for a total of 178 million.

In 2019, 65 percent identify as Christians. The combined gross population growth and 12 percent of professed Christians bring the total to 167 million – a significant decline of 11 million overall.

Flipping the proverbial coin over again, “the number of religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S. grew by almost 30 million.”

The decline in the percentage of Christians is consistent across the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, and the West.

Region Prior Current Change
Northeast 74% 59% – 15%
Midwest 77% 67% – 10%
South 82% 70% – 12%
West 69% 60% – 9%

In addition, the number of U.S. adults who responded that they never attend religious services has grown from 22 percent to 27 percent over the period between the two reports.

The complete report is available at the Pew Forum.

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