One of the trends many of us have heard and repeated is the decline of religion in America, and one of the indicators was the rise in surveys of those who called themselves “irreligious” or checked a box that said “no religion.”
Another topic that is covered in What Americans Really Believe. The conclusions reached by the Baylor Surveys are worth paying attention to.
First, in the 1940s through the 1980s about 6-7% of Americans said they were irreligious. But in the 1990s that number shifted to 11-12%. What happened? Did America become less religious?
Second, one third of the irreligious are atheists, which is a number we’ve already seen in this blog: atheists are not changing that much in overall percent of Americans. Another third believe in a higher power or a cosmic force, or in other words, have shifted in the direction of New Age religious ideas. Leading to an interesting result, which we’ll get to after the jump.
Here’s a basic breakdown of Americans: 11% are certain of God; 6% say they believe with some doubts; 2% sometimes believe in God; 36% in a higher power or cosmic source; 31% don’t believe in anything beyond the physical world; 14% have no opinion.
The irreligious with atheists removed, though, reported this:
16% believed Jesus is Son of God; 24% think he was a prophet among many others; 25% an extraordinary person; 14% prob existed but not special; 7% fictional. 14% no opinion.
The irreligious do religious things: ever attend church (20%), ever pray (56%), pray several times per week (32%).
Wildly it seems to me, 42% of the irreligious believe in heaven wile 50% believe in angels and 33% believe in Satan.
Here’s the conclusion: “irreligious” means not no religious ideas or practices but not a part of organized religion. The irreligious are not hard core secularists or empiricist-only people.