Americans who do not identify with any religion are now as big a part of the country’s population as Catholics and evangelical Christians, according to a new survey. Source: Our Sunday Visitor.
The General Social Survey, which interviewed more than 2000 people in 2018, indicates that the religiously unaffiliated, if the present trend continues, will comprise the largest segment of the United States’ population within four to six years.
“This has been going on for 20 years at least. It’s just been a slow and steady march, a point or point-and-a-half every two years that over times adds up to where we are today,” said Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University who analysed the data.
Mr Burge, who is also a Baptist pastor, told Our Sunday Visitor that the survey found that 23.1 per cent of Americans now claim no religion. By comparison, Catholics came in at 23 per cent while evangelicals were at 22.5 per cent. Mainline Protestants comprise about 11 per cent of the populace.
Headlines in the mainstream press heralded that the “nones” now outnumber Catholics and evangelicals, but Mr Burge said the split is more of a statistical tie between those three groups since the results fall within the survey’s margin of error.
“What you can say is the ‘nones’ are as large as the largest group in America,” Mr Burge said.
The General Social Survey – an annual sociological survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago – highlights the secularising trend in the United States and in the West, especially in the last 40 years.
That trend presents various challenges to the Church, especially in regards to evangelisation and convincing new generations of Americans that the Christian faith they think they already know about and found wanting is true.
“This is an urgent call to action for everyone who cares about proclaiming the Gospel. It’s such a shocking development over such a short period of time,” said David Spesia, the executive director for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Evangelisation and Catechesis.
Mr Spesia told OSV that Catholics need to understand “the gravity of the situation”, especially since various statistics indicate that for every person who joined the Church at the Easter Vigil, another six to seven “are heading out the back door”.
Number of ‘nones’ ties with Catholics ( Our Sunday Visitor)