We've moved!

Check out our new site at
and be sure to update your bookmarks.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Religious Snapshot

Earlier this week, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has released the details of its 2007 "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey," and the findings have since been picked up and interpreted by nearly every major news source in the country. The survey sampled more than 35,000 American adults in an attempt to detail the nation's religious composition. The results show the fluid nature of religious affiliation in America—many Americans switch religious denominations over the course of their lives. One of the most surprising findings is that Protestant denominations, once a large majority, now claim only 51 of Americans as adherents, while the Catholic Church has lost more members than any other faith group. More than 16 percent of Americans claim to be unaffiliated with any religion, making it the group with the largest net gain. This group includes both those who are secular and those who are religious but practice their faith independently, as well as atheists (1.6 percent) and agnostics (2.4 percent).
It's possible these changing numbers could impact the public debate and perception surrounding a number of science and religion issues. For instance, another Pew survey, conducted in August of 2006, found that evangelical Protestants (a group now on the decline) were most staunchly opposed to evolution, whereas those claiming to be secular (a group on the rise) were evolution's strongest proponents.
This spring, Pew will release a second report that goes beyond the religious labels to get at Americans' beliefs and religious practices. —Stephen Mapes