A newly released report from Washington D.C. think tank Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reveals that the number of Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated, or "nones," declined slightly in 2020. However, more Americans still describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated than affiliated with a particular religious tradition.
Commenting on the reversal of a trend in religious connections, American Family Association (afa.net) Executive Vice President Ed Vitagliano said, "The news from this survey is generally good news. However, despite this modest decline, it seems clear from the trends over the last 20 years that America is at a spiritual crossroads. Will we as a people continue down the pathway to secularism, or will we return to our Christian roots?"
The Census of American Religion report offers what PRRI claims is "the most detailed estimates of American religious affiliation since the U.S. Census Bureau last collected data in 1957." The survey detailed responses from over 53,000 participants from all age demographics and races in the majority of denominations and religious traditions, including atheists and agnostics.
The study found that those identifying as white American Christians had rebounded slightly, up to 44% from the low of 42% in 2018. PRRI found that the rising number of "nones" overall has reversed for the first time in several years—23.3% in 2020, down from a high of 25.5% in 2018, but still up from 16% in 2006.
Even with the slight decline among '"ones," religiously unaffiliated Americans still outnumber those who affiliate with a religious group in some age categories. The most pronounced holdouts, those ages 18-29, outnumber those who affiliate with the top mainline Protestant denominations by a 3-to-1 margin.
"The encouraging news is that 70% of Americans identify as Christian. While that percentage has been dropping, it is still a sizeable majority of the country," Vitagliano continued. "Yet important questions remain. What type of Christianity does that number represent? Within the category of 'Christian,' how large a portion is represented by the watered-down, left-wing and 'woke' movement? Will the true church busy itself with the preaching of the gospel and the making of disciples? The answers to these questions will determine the nation's path––sooner rather than later."
For over 40 years, the American Family Association has operated within the mission to inform, equip and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission. Find AFA Action Alerts here.
AFA—founded in 1977—has long been on the front lines of America's culture war. Today, AFA is one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country, with nearly a million online supporters and approximately 160,000 subscribers to the AFA Journal, the ministry's monthly magazine. In addition, AFA owns and operates nearly 180 radio stations across the country under the American Family Radio banner.
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