Americans are slowly becoming less Christian and more Muslim, according to the just-released update to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
Specifically, the percentage of Christians in America, which declined in the 1990s from 86.2 percent to 76.7 percent, has now edged down to 76 percent. Conversely, the Muslim proportion of the population continues to grow, from .3 percent in 1990 to .5 percent in 2001 to .6 percent in 2008.
Other key findings in the 2008 update to the survey conducted in 1990 and 2001, include the following:
- The Catholic population of the United States has shifted away from the Northeast and towards the Southwest.
- Secularism continues to grow in strength in all regions of the country.
- Baptists, who constitute the largest non-Catholic Christian tradition, have increased their numbers by two million since 2001, but continue to decline as a proportion of the population.
- Mormons have increased in numbers enough to hold their own proportionally, at 1.4 percent of the population.
- The number of adherents of Eastern Religions, which more than doubled in the 1990s, has declined slightly, from just over two million to just under. Asian Americans are substantially more likely to indicate no religious identity than other racial or ethnic groups.
- Those who identify religiously as Jews continue to decline numerically, from 3.1 million in 1990 to 2.8 million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2008–1.2 percent of the population. Defined to include those who identify as Jews by ethnicity alone, the American Jewish population has remained stable over the past two decades.
- Only 1.6 percent of Americans call themselves atheist or agnostic. But based on stated beliefs, 12 percent are atheist (no God) or agnostic (unsure), while 12 percent more are deistic (believe in a higher power but not a personal God). The number of outright atheists has nearly doubled since 2001, from 900 thousand to 1.6 million. Twenty-seven percent of Americans do not expect a religious funeral at their death.
- Adherents of new religious movements, including Wiccans and self-described pagans, have grown faster this decade than in the 1990s.
To view the pdf version of the survey findings, click here.