Poll: Protestants still dominate, but American religiosity down overall since 1950s

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     Michelle Ray, of West Plains, Mo., raises her hands in praise during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Baltimore. The Southern Baptist Convention is the nation's largest Protestant denomination, with 15.7 million members, but leaders are concerned about recent membership declines. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

    Michelle Ray, of West Plains, Mo., raises her hands in praise during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Baltimore. The Southern Baptist Convention is the nation's largest Protestant denomination, with 15.7 million members, but leaders are concerned about recent membership declines. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

    Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we pause to consider religion in America with Frank Newport, editor in chief at the Gallup Poll.

    Half of the population of the United States is Protestant (that is to say, generally, non-Catholic Christians), 24 percent are Catholic, and 2 percent are Mormon — meaning that 76 percent of adult Americans identify with some brand of Christanity. About 5 or 6 percent of Americans identify as non-Christian, including the 2 percent who are Jewish, and the 1 percent who identify as Muslim. About 19 percent of American adults claim no formal religious identity.

    The biggest decline (by about 20 percent) since the 1950s is among Protestants. The biggest rise since then (by about the same percentage) is those with no religious identity.

    When looking at the number of peope who attend religious services, Gallup finds that 41 percent of all Americans go every week. The percentages are naturally higher among those who identify with a religion. Seventy-five percent of Mormons report going every week, 53 percent of Protestants, 50 percent of Muslims, 45 of Catholics, and 19 percent of Jews.

    Unsurprisingly, among those with no religious identity, only 4 percent go every week.

    Newport says it has to do with what religion means to people. For example, churchgoing is more central to a Mormon identity than synagogue is to a jewish identity. It also has to do with ethnic identity. Hispanics who are Protestant are very frequent churchgoers. African-American Protestants are more likely to attend church than non-Hispanic whites.

    There is also a strong age corelation. Most religious Americans are 65 and older. The least religious Americans are Milennials (ages 18 – 29).  And there is a political corelation, as religious people tend to be Republican, particularly among non-Hispanic whites.

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