- Catholic population has moved from the Northest to the Southwest with California having a higher proportion of Catholics than New England.
- Northern New England has surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious.
- Vermont has the highest report of those claiming no religion, 34%.
- 15% of those surveyed claimed no religion, up from 14.2% in 2001 and 8.2% in 1990.
- Overall Christians in America has declined to 76%, compared to about 77% in 2001 and about 86.2% in 1990. (1% drop doesn't sound too bad, but it's still a drop.)
- The Muslim population has grown to .6% in 2008 from .5 percent in 2001 and .3% in 1990.
- Only a mere 1.6% of Americans call themselves atheist or agnostic.
Why are organized religions in the U.S. declining? You would think that during this economic crisis that it would be on the rise but something is causing it's slow decline. Atheist have nearly doubled since 2001 from 900,000 to 1.6 million; so it's not that people are losing faith but that more Americans are not claiming a particular religion. It seems to me that more and more people are shifting away from the organized setting and taking a more personal and private course.
I am one of those 15% of Americans that do not claim any religious affiliation, but I feel that my spirituality has grown significantly in the last few years. As I've stated in other posts I do not consider myself a Christian in the traditional sense, but I do follow Christ and his teachings. I still attend church but I do not claim Christianity as my faith. It is not because I have no use for organized religion but that since I draw my spirituality from several religions I can not see myself exclusively following just one. My story is probably completely different from the other 15% of Americans who do not claim a religion, but the important point is that this group has been growing. It might just be that Americans get more out of personal and spiritual growth outside of an organized faith. Or it may just mean that Americans don't have time for or need faith as much anymore. As this group grows how will this impact the socio-political issues facing America? Will the Religious Right, or the Moral Majority, have a distinct secular political bloc to contend with in future elections?
I personally believe that Catholicism will take off during the next decade as the Hispanic population grows. We might even see the first Hispanic Catholic President take office. The point being that the religious waters are stirring even if it's not in the interest of the religious groups, they are still stirring. These times they are a changin'.