The Religiously Unaffiliated: An Important and Growing Group

Read more or click here to see the original post written by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) about their latest national survey that highlights an important and growing group: The religiously unaffiliated. This is why secular activism and political involvement is so important at all levels of government: local, state, and national.

Original post from PRRI, below:

As religion in America experiences a period of seismic shifts, a new PRRI/RNS national survey highlights an important and growing group: The religiously unaffiliated.

Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion — and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back


A new PRRI/RNS survey finds one out of every four (25 percent) Americans — and nearly four in ten (39 percent) young adults (age 18-29) — now identify as religiously unaffiliated, a group that has quadrupled in size since the early 1990s and accounts for the fastest growing major group in the American religious landscape. The survey chronicles the growth of the unaffiliated, investigates factors behind the group’s growth and resiliency, and parses out three distinct subgroups within the unaffiliated: Unattached Believers, Apatheists, and Rejectionists.


The growth of the unaffiliated: At 25 percent, the religiously unaffiliated now constitute the largest group in the national religious landscape. The growth of the unaffiliated began in the 1990s: in 1991, only six percent of Americans identified with no religion in particular. By the end of the decade, that number had climbed to 14 percent and eventually reached 20 percent in 2012.


Factors behind the growth of the religiously unaffiliated: The most common reason unaffiliated Americans cite for leaving their childhood religion is a lack of belief in religious teachings: 60 percent say they stopped believing in their childhood religion’s teachings, while 32 percent say it was because their family was not that religious growing up, and 29 percent cite negative teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people by religious organizations.

Why the unaffiliated are unlikely to come back to organized religion: Only seven percent of the unaffiliated report they are searching for a religion that would be right for them, compared to 93 percentwho say they are not. Religiously unaffiliated households are also on the rise. A majority (54 percent) of unaffiliated Americans who are married today report that their spouse shares the same religious background as they do.

Who are the unaffiliated?: The religiously unaffiliated are distinct from religious Americans in important ways, but there is also considerable diversity within this group. Using two separate questions that measure the personal relevance of religion and the social benefit of religion, PRRI identified three distinct groups among the unaffiliated: Rejectionists, Apatheists, and Unattached Believers.

Read the entire report, including a detailed breakdown of the three subgroups of the unaffiliated, here.

Rise of the religiously unaffiliated recent poll by Public Religious Research Institute