Faith is on the decline. Not just in America, but all over the world thoughts about religion are shifting as society evolves at the fastest pace in history. Although religion still influences society in a big way (creationism in schools, anyone?), the polls show that people are starting to doubt the dogma.
In 2012, Gallup polled citizens of 57 countries and compared the results with numbers from 2005. In the most recent survey, 59 percent of people called themselves religious. A majority, yes—but a shrinking one. Just 7 years earlier, 68 percent of people claimed to be religious; that’s a drop of more than 1 percent per year, which is nothing to sneeze at. Interestingly, the poorer people are, the more likely they are to be religious. Perhaps people need more reassurance of hope during tougher times.
As for people who did not check the “religious” box? Twenty-three percent referred to themselves as non-religious, while 13 percent said they were atheists. On average, atheism was up 3 percent globally from 2005.
In the United States alone, 60 percent of the population claimed to be religious, down from 73 percent in 2005. That’s a plunge of nearly 2 percent per year. Meanwhile, 30 percent said they were non-religious, and 5 percent said they were atheist. That may not seem like a whole lot of atheists, but consider that only 1 percent of Americans reported that they were atheists just seven years prior. So there are now five times more atheists in America than in 2005.
So what does this mean? It means that society is starting to say that it’s OK to not believe in god. It means that atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers are a growing demographic who will gain influence, and that the government may start to listen to our needs. It means that science and reason are more likely to flourish, and as people see that atheists and agnostics are good-hearted, rational human beings, fear will diminish and we will continue to thrive. And that’s definitely a good thing.
image: helen sotiriadis