A new survey found that Americans’ belief in God is declining from previous decades.
A nationwide survey conducted May 4-8 and June 14-23 found that 89 percent of Americans responded "yes" to questions regarding their belief in God or a universal spirit.
The poll, conducted by Gallup, further found that the percentage of those who said they believe in God dropped to 79 when the "not sure about" option was introduced.
Gallup first asked the question “Do you, personally, believe in a God?” in 1944. That year, 96 percent of respondents said they did. Through 1967, the number stayed steadily in that range. In 1976, Gallup changed the question to include “a universal spirit." Ninety-four to 96 percent of respondents continued to respond affirmatively to this newly worded question through 1994.
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According to Time Magazine, Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, wrote in his book that “there were virtually no ‘nones’ in the 1950s – 1-2% max – but almost all contemporary surveys show it’s now closer to the 20% mark.” Newport also acknowledged shifting cultural norms. Newport said he believes the uptick in “nos” or “unsures” in recent surveys is because "verbally expressing what could be considered a deviant viewpoint might be more accepted [today].”
According to Pew Research, a 2014 survey found that 7 percent of U.S. adults considered themselves “atheist/agnostic." Furthermore, 15.8 percent said they believed in "nothing in particular."
This recent Gallup survey supports these findings. About 20 percent of those polled said they have no specific religious identity.
Gallup concluded that the survey data may point to a declining belief in God among Americans. However, Gallup notes, belief and spirituality may not have changed substantially; rather, Americans may be more and more willing to express their nonbelief to an interviewer.