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Losing Our Religion: Religious Influence Declines in US, Again

Two-thirds of Americans believe "religion as a whole" is losing influence on American life. But the drop is nothing new. Public perception of religion has always fluctuated, usually in response to major political events.

Religious influence is now at its second lowest point since the question was first posed in 1953. The nadir was at the height of Vietnam in 1971 and its highest point was in December 2001, when 71 percent of Americans said religious influence was on the rise.

What else are Americans saying? To see,

.

  • People who regularly attend church were more likely to say influence was declining than those who attend seldom or never.
  • Fewer people believe religion has the ability to solve the world's problems, continuing a steady decline from 82 percent in 1953 to 53 percent today.
  • More people see religion as old-fashioned, growing from seven percent in 1953 to 28 percent today.

Is religion in its end times, or will it just keep on fluctuating?

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UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
Unfortunately, I do. ;)
indielove indielove 7 years
"Since when are protestant congregations called "parishes"?" Oh crapdoodle, how did I not catch unto that...you know, being raised Catholic from birth and all. Silly me. "I'm not at fault if you want to create something to be insulted about." Are you now blaming me for doing my job? I like to think I do it quite well. "Instead of assuming that I'm insinuating something bad, how about you read what I write thoughtfully, and take me at my word." That's too easy. You know that that's just not my style. Come on, Dave, you know me better than that. ;)
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
""It's a shame that so many miss the point of organized religion, locally. I agree that there are problems with the larger church, especially the Catholic Church, but local parishes aren't generally bad, and do their best to help the people in their area. The point of organized religion is to bring together people who can support each other, and provide guidance, and friendship" Yes, and only Christian/non-Catholic churches do this. I've got it now. Thanks for the enlightenment, Dave. I love the subtlety of the idea that Protestant > Catholicism. Awesomeness." "Well, if I misconstrued his statement, it's his fault. I am open to clarification." Since when are protestant congregations called "parishes"? I'm not at fault if you want to create something to be insulted about. Instead of assuming that I'm insinuating something bad, how about you read what I write thoughtfully, and take me at my word. :)
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
lige is migraine speak for life.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
I believe that Dr Phil is to blame. Well, Dr. Phil, Rachel Ray and their leader Oprah Winfrey. Eliminate them and Americans will worship freely again. Nah, though I am a lige long atheist I encourage my religious friends to be observant. I encourage them to go to their worship services and to embrace their belief. Why? Because it does no harm to me and I look at them and I see that they miss something that they had when they were younger. They miss the sense of awe and wonder the had at church. And I think they may be able to regain that if they really want it. Call me weird - but yes this atheist does this for her religious friends because I think that it will help give them solace. Maybe the same solace that I have. Maybe their will be better than mine.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 7 years
Nice indie- you misconstrue something, but that can't possibly be your fault. All he said is that large organized religions (especially the catholic church) have issues. END STATEMENT nothing else in his statement said anything negative towards the catholic church. He said that on the local level, organized religion (ALL RELIGIONS) do good for the community
indielove indielove 7 years
Well, if I misconstrued his statement, it's his fault. I am open to clarification. ;)
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
But, I don't think that is what he was saying at all.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
ah, I see what you are saying. Woops!
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
Dave isn't Catholic
indielove indielove 7 years
" Uh-oh! You said Prop 8 and religion! Cue the conservative to give the lecture about allll the non-religious reasons someone could be for Prop 8. C: But what about activist judges? Will of the majority? L: But what about interracial marriage? C: But the kindergartners will learn anal sex in schools! L: Right, like they learn all about PIV sex now...sigh " Hahahaha.
indielove indielove 7 years
"It's a shame that so many miss the point of organized religion, locally. I agree that there are problems with the larger church, especially the Catholic Church, but local parishes aren't generally bad, and do their best to help the people in their area. The point of organized religion is to bring together people who can support each other, and provide guidance, and friendship" Yes, and only Christian/non-Catholic churches do this. I've got it now. Thanks for the enlightenment, Dave. I love the subtlety of the idea that Protestant > Catholicism. Awesomeness.
True-Song True-Song 7 years
Uh-oh! You said Prop 8 and religion! Cue the conservative to give the lecture about allll the non-religious reasons someone could be for Prop 8. C: But what about activist judges? Will of the majority? L: But what about interracial marriage? C: But the kindergartners will learn anal sex in schools! L: Right, like they learn all about PIV sex now...sigh
fcseamstress fcseamstress 7 years
I hope it is losing influence, but I accept it is likely to be a statistical sway and nothing more. If I were asked this polling question, I'd likely say the influence is staying flat, even if I hope it's going down. We still have things like Prop 8 being voted in, so religious influence in politics can't be dead. Religious influence in politics goes up and down, and I think for the good of ALL the people being governed it should stay low. Now keeping religious influence in their your own life is your business, and some people are really better for it, but in a country that is not a religious state, that influence should be kept to a minimum in politics.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
nyaradzom2001 "the way society has changed and things like homosexuality and abortion have become an accepted part of society," I'll give you homosexuality, but you are wrong on the abortion issue. Polls show 55% or more of Americans still think that abortion should be permitted only in cases such as rape, incest and to save the woman's life.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
lol, excellent point saucy!
saucymegstar saucymegstar 7 years
er...is invalidated. I changed direction in the middle of that sentence!
saucymegstar saucymegstar 7 years
So the logic is that religious influence is declinging because people perceive that religious influence is declining? That's faulty logic. If influence is only measured by someone's perception of said influence then a lot of psychological research is not invalidated (because you perceive the temperature of the room has no impact on your behavior then it obviously does not)
genesisrocks genesisrocks 7 years
Didn't really notice a difference
Tulipe Tulipe 7 years
Zeze, very true. I think, from a national and an international perspective, Bush and his zealots did nothing for religion at all. On the contrary, people will think "Ok, it THIS is religion, then no thanks". And Chancleta, I don't think that people only need God when there's a tragedy. I think that when there's a tragedy and the government isn't able to prevent it or cure it or do anything about it, people feel like there's nothing left EXCEPT turn to God. I guess people would rely more on God when the government is powerless because faith is the ultimate comfort for ppl who have lost everything (I'm thinking about Katrina here). TrueSong, that dog is cute ! What's his peculiar name then ?
Jude-C Jude-C 7 years
I'm glad for this, but I doubt the downturn will last.
Myst Myst 7 years
I'm not religious. I don't believe in organized religion what so ever but I do like reading religious text to just see how people believe and why they do.
zeze zeze 7 years
The irony is that people pushing religion hurt it the most. Bush's spiritual foreign policy, and Palin's "it a war from God" did anything but help the influence of religion.
Carrie-Sue Carrie-Sue 7 years
chancleta, does that mean we only need God in the hard times? That statement only emphasizes the reasoning behind the spike. People don't think they need God when they're "successful". The church I attend isn't perfect, and I'll agree you're going to find hypocrisy anywhere. Personally (in reference to Mydiadem's post) I think what Ted Haggard did was wrong. The Bible is pretty clear about homosexuality. Should his congregation have shunned him like that? They could've handled it better. But there's also clear guidelines in the Bible for people in leadership positions. When a leader of the church is falling away from God's principles, it's our responsibility to point it out, but it's got to be handled the right way. I wasn't there, so I don't really know what happened in Ted's case. There are people out there who seem to scream from the top of their lungs that they're Christians, but all the screaming doesn't change the truth. And God doesn't see people the way we do. He sees right to the heart. Sorry so short :)
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
It's a shame that so many miss the point of organized religion, locally. I agree that there are problems with the larger church, especially the Catholic Church, but local parishes aren't generally bad, and do their best to help the people in their area. The point of organized religion is to bring together people who can support each other, and provide guidance, and friendship. It isn't a place where you go to be told "You're sinful, and you're going to he77!!", but a place to be told "You're sinful by nature, but you are forgiven. Go and live in peace." and then, with the celebrate that freedom with your community.
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