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Losing My Religion: One in Five Americans Have no Religious Affiliation

Americans are increasingly stepping away from traditional religion. In a survey from the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five Americans stated they have no religious affiliation. 33 million Americans listed no specific religious affiliation in the poll with 13 million of those identifying themselves as either atheist or agnostic. Of course, we should point out that choosing not to list a specific religion did not imply a disbelief in a higher power; on the contrary, many of those people simply choose not to subscribe to any organized religion.

This is the first time in United States history that the Protestant religion cannot be counted as the majority. The poll shows that adults who identify as Protestant in the United States reached an all-time low of 48%.

There are political implications for this change. Of those polled, 24% with no religious affiliation defined themselves as Democrats while self-described evangelicals were 34% Republican.

We think it’s mostly a reaction to the religious right,” said Robert Putnam, a Harvard political scientist, in an interview with the Washington Post. Putnam believes that people’s political ideology has strongly influenced their religious stance. And those with no religious connections are a significant part of the voting population – and one that politicians would be unwise to ignore. 75% of people stating no religious preference voted Democrat in the 2008 election. Currently 65% of those religiously unaffiliated are in favor of President Obama, as opposed to 27% for Mitt Romney.

“With their rising numbers, the religiously unaffiliated are an increasingly important segment of the electorate,” explained the Pew report. One-third of adults under the age of thirty fall into the category of no religious affiliation, indicating that this trend is on the rise.

But America hasn’t entirely done away with its religious roots. 58% of Americans still say that religion is an extremely important part of their life.

[Pic via Flickr - John Ragai]

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