Belief in God hits new low

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Between 1944 and 2011, there was one cultural stat you could count on: Over 90% of all Americans believed in God. Year after year, decade after decade, from the time of World War II to President Obama’s announcement of the murder of Osama bin Laden, more than 90 percent of Americans have consistently believed in God. Often, this percentage reached 98%, even weighing 92% in 2011.

It was like cultural wallpaper.

Until that is no longer the case.

And, like so many other hallmarks of our new post-Christian reality such as the rise of the “nones,” said belief in God dropped suddenly and sharply.

A new Gallup poll found that from the aforementioned highs of 98% for much of the past eight decades, it fell to 92% in 2011, then to 87% in 2013, then to 81% in 2022. means that now almost one in five Americans do not believe in God.

Gallup also found that belief in God dropped the most “among young adults and those on the left of the political spectrum (Liberals and Democrats).” Conservatives and married adults remained stable. Some have felt that this helps explain some of the political divisions in our country.

Of course, it’s always instructive to read more about the type of “god” people believe in, because a generic belief in a god can mean very little. Gallup clarifies this, noting that only 42% believe the god they say they believe in hears prayers and intervenes. The number of people who do not believe in God or who do not believe that God hears prayers rises to nearly one in three American adults. So the theology behind the theism of many is actually what is known in theological circles as “deism,” the belief in a god or divine power that is detached, indifferent, and uninvolved.

I’m not surprised by these numbers, any more than I’m surprised that belief in God in the United States remains relatively high compared to, say, Europe. There is a progression that many have observed: first you stop belonging, then you stop believing. It’s only in recent decades that the United States has seen the rise of no’s, something those in Europe and Canada saw happening much earlier. The rise of no is the belonging component; the fall in belief in God is the subsequent belief component, so we only see it surface now.

This means that you can count on the decline of belief in God to continue.

James Emery White

Sources

Jeffrey M. Jones, “Belief in God in the United States Drops to 81%, a New Low,” GallupJune 17, 2022, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a former assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free Church & Culture blog subscription, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture podcast. . Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.

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