Monday, May 18, 2015

AMERICA - Less Religious

"America is less religious today, and it’s not just about the Millennials" PBS NewsHour 5/12/2015


SUMMARY:  While the U.S. is still an overwhelmingly Christian country, since 2007 there has been a notable drop in the number of Americans who call themselves such, and the number of people who don’t identify as any religion has risen dramatically.  Jeffrey Brown talks to Alan Cooperman of the Pew Research Center, which conducted the latest survey, and Rev. Serene Jones of the Union Theological Seminary.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  The U.S. remains an overwhelmingly Christian country.  That hasn’t changed, but a new survey shows a significant drop in the number of Americans who identify as Christian.

The survey was done by the Pew Research Center.  It showed that, in 2007, 78 percent of Americans identified as Christian.  By last year, the percentage had dropped to under 71 percent.  Those years have seen a dramatic rise in the number of Americans who say they are religiously unaffiliated, from 16 to nearly 23 percent.

The largest drop was in mainline Protestant denominations, but the number of Catholics also fell.  Several non-Christian religions, Islam and Hinduism, saw modest gains.

Alan Cooperman is here.  She’s the director of religious research at Pew.  Also with us is Reverend Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

And welcome to both of you.

And, Alan Cooperman, let me start with you.

One aspect of this that might surprise people is just how widespread this drop is.  Did that strike you?

ALAN COOPERMAN, Pew Research Center:  Absolutely, Jeff.

I mean, I think the important thing for people the realize is, this is really widespread, broad-based social change.  It’s taking place not just in the big cities or in the Northeast. It’s taking place in every region of the country, including in the Bible Belt, among men and women, among blacks, Latinos and whites, among older people and younger people, and among people with college degrees and those with only high school degrees.

JEFFREY BROWN:  And, Dr. Jones, what — does it jibe with what you see happening around you?  Are you surprised at all?

REV. SERENE JONES, President, Union Theological Seminary:  Yes, it’s surprising to see the statistics lay it out so clearly, but, on another level, it’s not surprising at all.  It’s exactly what we all look around when what we see in New York City or — I’m from Oklahoma — when I walk through the fields of the small town I grew up in.  It’s the reality of the U.S. we live in today.

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