The non-religious in America, and the world, have been growing at a significant rate since 1957. The first U. S. Census in 1790 asked about religious affiliation on the questionnaire. And from 1850 to 1936 the Census Bureau asked religious dominations about their adherents. In 1960, the issue of ‘separation of Church and state’ became a hot topic; and in the 1960s the Supreme Courts changed what Courts had ruled since the independence of the United States. They began to rule prayer, bible reading, and even the present of the Ten Commandments around our children in public buildings as unconstitutional. At that time the Census Bureau stopped directly asking about religion on their population questionnaire. In 1976, the question on religion was asked in the bicentennial census, but with no required answer.
March 1957, 2.7% of 35,000 households surveyed stated they had ‘No religion.’ At that time the population of America was 170 million. Over the next 60 years the population nearly doubled (1.92 x 1957 population) to 327 million in 2017. However, during that time the number of non-religious has multiplied ten (10) times the 1957 percentage. In an American Religious Identification Survey in 1990 8.4% stated they had ‘no religion;’ and according to the U. S. Census question ‘What is your religion, if any?’ In 2001, 15% stated ‘No Religion.’ In ten years the number doubled showing the speed at which the change took place in America. In 2008, the number doubled again to 30% according to Gallup polls.
Based on GALLUP Poll ‘Daily Tracking, January-December 2015’ article published on gallup.com February 4, 2016, ‘New Hampshire is the least religious state in the U.S., edging out Vermont in Gallup’s 2015 state-by-state analysis. Mississippi has extended its eight-year streak as the most religious stated. In 2015, ‘the non-religious’ was at 31% according to Gallup; with 29% moderately religious. The non-religious in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine averaged 54%. In Massachusetts, home of the pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact (‘for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith’) 46% of the respondents answered they were ‘non-religious.’
Only eight states in 2015 had more than 50% state they were ‘very religious.’ The states were in order: Mississippi, Alabama, Utah, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia. But this does not tell the whole truth. This does not state of Christianity; nor show the direction of the future.
According to the Pew Research Center, a 2015 article, Millennials increasingly are driving growth of ‘nones,’ 34% (up from 25% in 2007) of millennials born from 1981 to 1989 were unaffiliated with any religion; and 36% of the ‘younger millennials (1990-1996)’ were unaffiliated and non-religious. Moreover, another 8% of all millennials that were religious were non-Christian. Thus, about 43% of millennials were non-Christian in 2015.
What does the future of morality look like for America? According to Barna Trends 2017, in the summer of 2015, 69% of all adults responding said that ‘any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is acceptable;’ and 40% of ‘practicing Christians’ agreed. And 89% of all respondents agreed that ‘people should not criticize someone else’s life choices;’ with 76% of ‘practicing Christians’ in agreement. Yet, this is the moral thinking that led to the United States and nearly every ‘former’ Christian majority nation in the world legalizing same-sex marriage.
The question to most adults is not what does the Holy Scriptures, the prophets and the Lord God say concerning the matter? At one time a generation ago the churches debated the interpretation of several clear verses of Scripture. Now most do not care, they may said, God is love; but they do not even know the entire name of God (Exodus 34:6-7), nor do many really care.
Barna Trends reported that only ‘1 out of 2 adults’ and ‘1 out of 3 teens and young adults’ agreed that ‘viewing porn is wrong.’ And the report showed that 65% of American adults had no problem with Cohabitation outside of marriage. And I imagine that at least that many would disagree that ‘neither… fornicators… nor adulterers …nor homosexuals …will inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19-21).’
The Barna Trends 2017 report revealed that Europe is secular and younger adults are less likely to describe themselves as Christians; and in many European nations the majority of the population is non-Christian and moving towards non-religious.
Additionally in report showed that American ‘Church Attendance’ is declining. In 1986 about 48% of Americans answered that they had attended church in the past week; in 1996 that dropped to 37% and climbed back to 47% in 2006, only to fall steadily to 35% in 2016.
According to a December 2016 Gallup article, ‘Five Key Findings on Religion in the US,’ ‘the most significant trend in Americans’ religiosity in recent decades has been the growing shift away from formal or official religion… Americans are also significantly less likely now than they were in the past to claim membership in a church, synagogue or mosque.’
In 2016 Barna reported that “only about 1 in 5 adults among the general population (in Britain) holds the orthodox belief that Jesus was ‘God in human form who lived among people in the 1st Century (22%).” They reported 29% believed that Jesus was ‘a prophet or spiritual leader, not God.’ And concerning the resurrection ‘1 in 6 believed the resurrection (of Jesus) happened word-for-word as described in the Bible (17%).’ And many countries in Europe are even less Christian and America appears to be following with perhaps more than 1/3 of its young adults and teens non-religious.
Now I praise God for the millions of Muslims converting to Christianity; and of course God is able to save and ‘all day long He reaches’ out to unbelievers. Nevertheless, Christian persecution is growing worse with thousands being killed in the last two years alone. Moreover, the percentage of Christians worldwide and in America in dropping; and the Scriptures are clear, “don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day of the coming of the Lord will not come until the falling away (apostasy, rebellion) comes first (2 Thes. 2:3).”
For much more (including graphs and images) see: Why the Generation Z Population will be Non-religious