Atheism Up, Religion Down in US

Atheists now make up 5% of population, says new survey
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 14, 2012 6:15 PM CDT
The proportion of people identifying as religious has decreased from 73% to 60% since 2005, a poll says.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Seven years ago, 73% of Americans identified as religious; now, that figure is down to 60%. Meanwhile, the proportion of the US calling itself atheist has climbed from 1% to 5%, a poll finds. Experts have an idea why: The year the poll was last taken, 2005, marked the beginning of a string of bestselling publications on atheism by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, reports the Washington Post.

But a sociologist cautions that this doesn't mean more people are actually becoming atheists; instead, it's just that more people are OK acknowledging their atheism. Another pollster doubts the figures, suggesting the 13-point shift in religiosity is too quick. The international survey resulted in some more interesting tidbits:

  • China has the highest proportion of "convinced atheists": 47%.
  • The most religious countries include Ghana, Brazil, and Macedonia.
  • Poland, Moldova, and Saudi Arabia are similar to the US in their percentages of atheists.
Head to the Post for more.

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