Polls show that over the past 15 years, the proportion of white evangelicals in the United States has steadily been on the decline, while the non-religious sector of the population continues to soar.
Even though the Protestant denomination is still America’s most prevalent religious group, a major analysis of ABC News/Washington Post polls conducted over the past decade-and-a-half indicates that the nation’s religious landscape has experienced a major shift during that time.
“On average last year, 36 percent of Americans in ABC News/Washington Post polls identified themselves as members of a Protestant faith, extending a gradual trend down from 50 percent in 2003,” ABC News revealed from the polls. “That includes an 8-point drop in the number of evangelical white Protestants – an important political group.”
Spreading the lack of faith
Instead of Christians evangelizing the world, it appears that over the past 15 years, the world has been more successful at evangelizing born-again Christians to abandon their faith in favor of a secular worldview.
“Reflecting the change among Protestants, the share of Christians overall has declined from 83 percent of the adult population in 2003 to 72 percent on average last year,” ABC News’ Allison De Jong reported. “In the same time, the number of Americans who say they have no religion has nearly doubled, to 21 percent.”
However, non-evangelical denominations are not experiencing a similar exodus from the faith, with many seeing an actual increase in adherents from 2003 to 2017, according to numbers attained from the random sample of the polls’ 174,485 interviews.
“The share of adults who identify with another form of Christianity – including Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and Greek or Russian Orthodox, for example – has risen modestly, from 11 to 14 percent,” De Jong added. “Catholic self-identification (22 percent) has held steady during this time.”
The decline in Protestantism could also take its toll on America’s political landscape in the years to come.
“Among all Protestants, 56 percent currently say they’re evangelical or born-again; that has held essentially steady since 2003, with virtually equal declines in the number who say they’re either evangelical or non-evangelical Protestants – down 7 and 6 points, respectively,” the ABC News report on the study revealed. “Evangelical white Protestants are of particular interest in political terms, since they’re a core group within the Republican coalition; 80 percent supported Donald Trump in 2016. Evangelical white Protestants’ share of the total adult population has gone from 21 percent in 2003 to 13 percent last year. Non-evangelical white Protestants have gone from 17 to 11 percent. “
The analysis further explained that the greatest drift from Protestantism is witnessed among those who self-identify as white evangelicals.
“Thirty-nine percent of whites now identify themselves as members of a Protestant denomination, down 13 points since 2003,” De Jong divulged from the study. “That compares with an 8-point decline among Hispanics (from 22 to 14 percent) and just 3 points among blacks (from 64 to 61 percent). An additional factor is the shrinking white non-Hispanic population, from 69 percent of all Americans in 2000 to an estimated 61 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
Most major denominations have registered moderate declines since 2003, with a double-digit drop seen when combining them, but immigration has helped keep the nation’s Catholic population from dropping.
“Most Protestants don’t identify themselves as Protestant, but as a member of a particular Protestant denomination – Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostalist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian and others,” De Jong noted. “Small, single-digit declines are apparent across nearly all of these groups, adding to the net 14-point drop in Protestants overall. Stability in the share of the population that’s Catholic, for its part, owes something to the increase in the country’s Hispanic population, because half of Hispanics identify themselves as Catholic. That said, even among non-Hispanic whites, the share of Catholics has held nearly steady – 22 percent in 2003 and 20 percent now.”
More saying ‘yes’ to ‘no religion'
Americans who proclaim no adherence to any religion has nearly doubled since 2003, with leftists being the major contributors to the jump.
“As the share of Protestants has declined, the number of adults expressing no religious affiliation has risen from 12 percent in 2003 to 21 percent of all adults in 2017,” De Jong pointed out. “That includes 3 percent who say they’re atheists, 3 percent agnostic and 15 percent who say they have no religion. The proportions were similar 15 years ago. The largest shifts during this 15-year period include 16-point increases among young adults (age 18 to 29) and political liberals. The smallest changes have occurred among Republicans, conservatives and blacks (+4 points in each group) as well as older Americans, +5 points.”
The college years appear to produce most of the faithless in America – where professors peddling their anti-Christian teachings at the “marketplace of ideas” have successfully sold students on their leftist campus politics that they promote from behind their lecterns.
“Having no religious affiliation is most prevalent among 18- to 29-year-olds, at 35 percent, vs. 13 percent among those age 50 and older,” the numbers showed, according to ABC News. “It’s also higher among men than women (25 vs. 17 percent), among college graduates vs. those without a degree (25 vs. 20 percent), and among whites and Hispanics than among blacks (22 and 20 percent vs. 15 percent).”
Religion and politics
The more liberal Americans’ political and ideological leanings are, the more likely they are to reject religion.
“Thirty-five percent of liberals report no religious affiliation, compared with 21 percent of moderates and 12 percent of conservatives,” De Jong noted. “Twenty-three and 25 percent of Democrats and independents, respectively, don’t report a religion, dropping to 10 percent of Republicans. Indeed, the non-religious are something of a political counterpoint to evangelical white Protestants; 67 percent of those with no religious affiliation supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
Among America’s smaller religious populations, most have stayed the same when it comes to their percentage of adherents in the U.S. population, except for Islam, which has doubled.
“Using the entire 15 years of data, 1.7 percent of Americans are Jews, 1.4 percent Mormons and 0.5 percent Muslims, for example,” the analysis indicated. “Jews and Mormons have held essentially steady in size, while Muslims have gone from 0.4 to 0.8 percent of all adults in this period.”
Common trends were also noted when it comes to politics and religious affiliations.
“Evangelical white Protestants, as noted, are a core GOP group; 48 percent identify themselves as Republicans, 31 percent as political independents and just 14 percent as Democrats,” De Jong informed. “Similarly, 53 percent of Mormons are Republicans, 34 percent independents and 9 percent Democrats. Across the political spectrum, 57 percent of Muslims and 48 percent of Jews say they’re Democrats; just 5 and 16 percent, respectively, are Republicans.”
The same can be said when it comes to religion and one’s ideological leanings.
“Conservatives account for six in 10 Mormons and nearly as many evangelical white Protestants, compared with 38 percent of white Catholics, a third of non-evangelical Protestants and just 16 percent of Jews,” De Jong added. “Roughly four in 10 Jews, Muslims and non-religious adults alike are liberals; it’s half that, or lower, in other groups.”
Confirming the evangelical slide
The white evangelical decline has been witnessed via a number of major nationwide polls.
“Other surveys, including one from 2017 by Gallup, have also found that Protestants are seeing big drops in identification, though they remain a significantly higher portion of the U.S. population than the ABC News/Washington Post poll suggests,” The Christian Post noted. “Catholics, on the other hand, were … found to be holding a steady line, making up 22 percent of the population in 2017.”
Once they hit the college years, the younger generation of Americans is losing its faith … after being subjected to liberal teachings behind classroom doors.
"A troubling sign for both religions is that younger adults – particularly those aged 21 to 29 – are less likely than older adults to identify as either Protestant or Catholic," Gallup explained. "This is partly because more young people identify as 'other' or with other non-Christian religions, but mostly because of the large proportion – 33 percent – identifying with no religion."
And the drop in the proportion of Protestant adherents in the U.S. is a trend that began well before the turn of the century – dating all the way back to the 1950s.
“Although the rate at which Protestants attend church has held firm over the past six decades, the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply – from 71 percent in 1955 to 47 percent in the mid-2010s,” Gallup’s Lydia Saad reported last year. “Protestant church seats may also be less full, but for a different reason. Although weekly attendance among Protestants has been stable, the proportion of adults identifying as Protestants has shrunk considerably over the past half-century. And that trend will continue as older Americans are replaced by a far less Protestant-identifying younger generation.”
Liberal anti-Christian teachings in American colleges began decades ago, and the students back then are parents now, who are imparting their non-religious worldview to America’s youth generation.
“All of this comes amid a broader trend of more Americans opting out of formal religion or being raised without it altogether,” Saad stressed. “In 2016, Gallup found one in five Americans (20 percent) professing no religious identity – up from as little as 2 percent just over 60 years ago.”