New Study Finds One-Quarter of Americans Have No Religion

Secular Coalition to Lawmakers: This Is Your Wake-Up Call

Washington, D.C.-- The Secular Coalition for America hailed a new study released by the Public Religion Research Institute showing that nearly one-quarter of all Americans (24.8%) have no religious affiliation. The new data confirms that the nonreligious are now the largest "religious group" in the U.S.

"This is a wake-up call to lawmakers and politicians across the country," said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. "The rapid growth of the nonreligious is among the most drastic and consequential changes to the American political landscape in recent history. It is time for both political parties to take notice of this trend and rewrite their political playbooks."

According to the report

  • The growth of the nonreligious is driven primarily by religious switching. Nearly one-in-five Americans raised with religion has become unaffiliated. By contrast, only 3% of those raised without a religion have joined one.

  • Younger Americans are leaving religion at a historically unprecedented rate. Compared to previous generations, current 18-29-year-olds are less religious than previous generations were at their age. Thirty-nine percent of adults 18-29 have no religious affiliation.

  • 80% of the religious unaffiliated say that religion is not personally important to them.

  • 79% reject the idea that belief in God is required to have good moral values.  

  • 48% of nonreligious voters are Independents, one-third (33%) are Democrats and only 12% identify as Republicans.

  • Among the 2016 presidential candidates, the nonreligious lean heavily toward Hillary Clinton (62%) compared to Donald Trump (21%). However, 12% said they favor a third party candidate such as Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.

The new report did find that despite their "exponential growth rate" the nonreligious continue to be underrepresented at the ballot box. In every election since 2008 the nonreligious have comprised only 12% of the total voter turnout.

The Secular Coalition for America has already begun reaching out to nonreligious voters through its Secular Values Voter campaign, a large component of which focuses on educating and engaging religiously unaffiliated voters about the 2016 election.

"It is indisputable that we have the numbers on our side, the only challenge left is turning those numbers into a reliable voting bloc," said Decker. "This is a hurdle I am confident we can overcome. The nonreligious are no longer outside the mainstream. We are your neighbors, your coworkers, your friends, and for elected officials, we are one-fourth of your constituents."

Contact: Casey Brescia, [email protected], (845)-380-6201


The Secular Coalition for America is the nation's premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 18 voting member organizations.


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