After a 61-year decline in religious belief, 2013 hit a new low

Researchers agree that religiosity in the U.S. is in the midst of a “great decline.”

Researchers agree that religiosity in the U.S. is in the midst of a “great decline.”

Although religious belief has been on the wane for some time now, 2013 was new low.


The graph of this index tells the story of the rise and fall of religious activity. During the post-war, baby-booming 1950s, there was a revival of religion. Indeed, some at the time considered it a third great awakening. Then came the societal changes of the 1960s, which included a questioning of religious institutions. The resulting decline in religion stopped by the end of the 1970s, when religiosity remained steady. Over the past fifteen years, however, religion has once again declined. But this decline is much sharper than the decline of 1960s and 1970s. Church attendance and prayer is less frequent. The number of people with no religion is growing. Fewer people say that religion is an important part of their lives.

See the graph below:

rd graph



  1. Avatar

    Alice Gordon

    August 12, 2014 at 11:31 am

    The end of the middle ages

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    Scott Hendrickson (@Houston_Scott)

    August 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm


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    August 12, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    This is a quite surprising bit of information. Surprising because it feels to me like the US is becoming more obsessed with religion, not less. I guess what is missing is data on the mushrooming intensity (or fanaticism) of a large segment of those in the religious camp.

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    August 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    The intensity of the remaining followers is precisely because of the overall decline. They feel like animals backed into a corner, and are reacting similarly. (Note i said FEEL like, not are).

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    August 13, 2014 at 12:05 am

    The dying spasms of a threatened way of life. Science and knowledge in general make it obvious that christianity is a fiction, and not a benign one either. That’s hard for some people and societies to deal with. If there is a major split in society, this will be the focus..

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    Todd Bruns

    August 13, 2014 at 3:17 am

    marecek: The remaining people are becoming more obsessed, and probably because they can subconsciously feel their status as an enshrined and privileged majority is slowly fading.

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    Jeff Humphrey

    August 13, 2014 at 3:29 am

    stupid. you need to label the y-axis and give some indication of what the variable is. you shouldn’t be allowed to post graphs on the internet. awful.

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    Kevin Feeney

    August 13, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    IQs went up coincidentally.

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    Ronald Emery

    August 14, 2014 at 12:39 am

    While the graph is accurate, it is an example fudging statistics. Without looking at the axis, it would appear there was a 50% drop , not a decline from 80 to 70%. If the graph was from 0 to 100% the decline would not appear as significate.

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    William Robert David Niblett

    August 14, 2014 at 4:03 am

    % of population. Was pretty easy to discern. If you cannot figure out such simple things maybe you shouldn’t be on the internet…

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    Sarah Weissman

    August 15, 2014 at 12:41 am

    A lot of factors enter into someone’s IQ, including socioeconomic status. And people who aren’t as class-privileged often feel a greater need for religion. IQs are not a comprehensive test for intelligence.

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    Jeff Humphrey

    August 15, 2014 at 2:05 am

    duh. of course it’s percent of population, but percent that DOES WHAT? what’s the measure? self-report? church attendance? what? you don’t know, because it doesn’t say, smart ass

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    robyn ryan

    August 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    slowly? No. we’re suffering the death throes of Abrahamic religions.

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    Richard Anthony Doell

    August 21, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Let’s hope for an even more rapid and steeper decline in the future.

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    robyn ryan

    August 22, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    time to take religion off life support. Tax them.

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    August 22, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    It would also be more honest to point out that more than 2/3 of Americans are religious and to use a graph that shows from 100% to 0%, which would clearly indicate that the fall in religiosity is not as dramatic as you desire to paint it.

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    Jeff Rudh

    October 9, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    With the decline in religiosity has also come: more single parent families, increased use of drugs, increase in sexual promiscuity, the (unfortunate) acceptance of gays, etc.

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    Jeff Rudh

    October 9, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    According to a recent ABC new poll 83% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. People may be less active in organized churches but they still believe.

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