The percentage of Americans who describe themselves as “religiously unaffiliated” continues to rise according to a new Pew Research Center survey looking at trend in America’s religious landscape. Conducted from May 29 to Aug. 25, 2021, the Pew survey is an annual report.
While Christians continue to make up a majority of the U.S. populace, their share of the adult population is 12 points lower in 2021 than it was in 2011. In addition, the share of U.S. adults who say they pray on a daily basis has been trending downward, as has the share who say religion is “very important” in their lives.
According to Pew’s survey, 29% of U.S. adults are religious “nones” – people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.”
Self-identified “Christians” – including Protestants, Catholics, Mormons and Orthodox – make up 63% of the adult population. This group outnumbers religious “nones” by a ratio of about two-to-one, but the gap is narrowing. In 2007, Pew reported that Christians outnumbered “nones” by almost five-to-one (78% vs. 16%).
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The recent declines within Christianity are concentrated among Protestants. Today, 40% of U.S. adults are Protestants, a group that includes nondenominational Christians and people who describe themselves as “just Christian” along with Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and members of many other denominational families. This population is down 4 percentage points over the last five years and has dropped 10 points in 10 years.
By comparison, the Catholic share of the population, which had ticked downward between 2007 and 2014, has held relatively steady in recent years. As of 2021, 21% of U.S. adults describe themselves as Catholic, identical to 2014.
The Pew survey interviewed 3,937 Americans. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.1%.
A separate Pew survey looked at how often Americans pray and how important religion is in their lives. It found that fewer than half of U.S. adults (45%) say they pray on a daily basis, down from 58% who reported praying daily in the 2007. Roughly one-third of U.S. adults (32%) now say they seldom or never pray, up from 18% who said this in 2007.