Pontifications

Pontifications


ARIS 2008: Americans are faith freelancers–Catholic adherence in decline

posted by David Gibson

“Believing without belonging” has been the American religious mantra for years, and the real-time effects of that anti-“religion” (or anti-institution?) bias was never so apparent as in the latest American Religious Identification Survey. ARIS 2008 surveyed more than 50,000 Americans about their beliefs and builds on two previous sweeping studies, in 1990 and 2001.

The “Nones” are growing (as we wrote at ReligionLink), going from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 14.2 percent in 2001 and now 15 percent. But the big news may be that New England, sanctuary to the Puritans who helped birth the United States and bequeathed its religious legacy, has now taken over from the Pacific Northwest as the least religiously affiliated section of the country.

But this doesn’t mean more Americans are atheists or even agnostics–just nonreligious, and believing in something, even if they’re not sure what. The number of true nonbelievers remains relatively small: About 1.6 percent of Americans call themselves atheist or agnostic. (On the other hand, the overall number of avowed atheists has grown sharply from 900,000 to 1.6 million since 2001.)

Yes, “Christianity” in raw numbers is shrinking: The percentage of Americans who identify as Christian declined from 86.2 percent in 1990 to 76 percent in the latest ARIS. Not all of that is due to immigration from different faiths, and in fact most immigrants coming to the U.S.–even from Asia and elsewhere–are Christian. 

A look behind the numbers shows that most of the decline is due to the ongoing erosion in mainline Protestantism and that evangelical or nondenominational Protestantism is filling the vacuum.

And not surprisingly, the very “religion-y” religion of Roman Catholicism is taking hits, in spite of Latino immigration. ARIS 2008 confirms the Great Shift from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West.  

But there has been real erosion, and Cathy Grossman’s report at USA Today has some spectacular graphics that illustrate the changes in the Catholic Church and other groups.

Read the entire report and summaries at the Web site of the Program on Public Values at Trinity College, which conducted the survey.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
pagansister

posted March 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm


Living in the Northeast, I’ve seen many RCC churches and RCC schools closed in the past 15 years. I don’t attend any church currently, as I don’t feel the need. It seems that many others in this country feel the same way.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Pontifications. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Faith, Media and Culture Prayer, Plain and Simple Happy Blogging!!!  

posted 2:38:01pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Moving on, and many, many thanks...
So...my recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from PoliticsDaily.com to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That means, in short, that I'll have to sign off from blogging h

posted 8:29:24pm Aug. 02, 2009 | read full post »

Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored the new look Calvin in an essay at PoliticsDaily, "Patr

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, hence the long absence. Apologies to those who have chec

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's contribution in developing countries" were key topics of discussio

posted 12:54:28pm Jul. 10, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.