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Gallup poll finds a decline in religious practice and belief in God

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J-P Mauro - published on 06/21/22 - updated on 06/21/22

The findings suggest that “religiosity is a major determinant of political divisions in the U.S..” 

The results of Gallup’s 2021 poll on the religious values and practices in the United States show a decline in belief in God.

Gallup has been polling Americans on their religious preferences since the 1940s. According to their records, belief in God was most widespread between 1953 and 1967, at which time 98% of respondents said that they believed. In the following 50 years belief in God decreased to 81% (2021). The data shows a decrease since 2011, when 92% of respondents answered in the affirmative. 

Religion and politics

In a breakdown of this figure, the subgroup most likely to say they believed in God are those who identify as conservative (94%) closely followed by Republicans (92%). People of color, married couples, and those aged between 50 – 64 years are tied for third at 88%

Conversely, those least likely to respond that they believed in God were those who identified as liberal (62%). The number rose only slightly in responses from those aged 18-29 (68%) and they were followed by Democrats at 72%. 

Gallup noted that these findings suggest that “religiosity is a major determinant of political divisions in the U.S..” 

Importance

The findings of the latest poll reveal that fewer than half (49%) of respondents feel that religion is very important to their lives. This is markedly down from a high of 61%, recorded in 2003. Nearly mirroring this figure, 47% said they do not belong to a church or synagogue. 

Religious weekly service attendance has shown a steady decline since a high of 34% in 1994. Today this figure sits at a scant 22%, but it rose to 29% when asked if respondents had attended a service in the last seven days. 

Prayers

Another point of interest in the Gallup poll is found in the section that inquired about belief in prayer. Only 51% of those who responded that they believed in God thought that God could both hear prayers and intervene on their behalf. Thirty-five percent said that they thought God could only hear their prayers and could not intervene. As many as 13% said that they did not think God could hear prayers or do anything about them. 

In their conclusion, Gallup wrote: 

“… while belief in God has declined in recent years, Gallup has documented steeper drops in church attendance, church membership and confidence in organized religion, suggesting that the practice of religious faith may be changing more than basic faith in God.”

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