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The rise of the New Atheists in the early 2000’s led to a steep decline in religious affiliation in America. How will the Church respond?

By Eric Sammons, Crisis Magazine, March 29, 2023

Eric Sammons is the editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine.


Eric Sammons

One of the most sobering images for religiously-minded Americans has to be a graph showing 80+ years of Gallup Poll results to the question, “Do you happen to be a member of a church, synagogue, or mosque?” From 1937 until 2000, the result hovered around 70% (the high was 76% in the late 1940’s and the low was 68% in the late 1980’s). Essentially, for more than 80 years seven out of every ten Americans were members of some religious body.

Then, in 2000, the bottom fell out.

Since that year, the percentage of Americans who are members of a religious institution has dropped from 70% to 47%, and the decline shows no sign of slowing down. Another recent poll showed that only 39% of Americans said that religion was “very important” to them, down from 62% who said it was “very important” to them back in 1998….

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