Prayer and religious belief in the US at an all-time low, study claims

The United States is becoming more secular than ever as a new survey has found Americans who said they prayed or believed in God hit an all-time low in 2014.

Conducted as part of a study published in the journal Sage Open, the survey on religion included information from nearly 59,000 people who participated in the General Social Survey, carried out between 1972 and 2014. The study team discovered the number of Americans saying they never prayed jumped fivefold from the early 1980s to 2014. Nearly twice as many said they did not believe in God over the same time frame.

The study team also discovered today’s Americans were less inclined to go to religious services, refer to themselves as a religious and believe the Bible comes from divine inspiration, with the biggest reductions seen among 18- to 29-year-old respondents.

“Most previous studies concluded that fewer Americans were publicly affiliating with a religion, but that Americans were just as religious in private ways. That’s no longer the case, especially in the last few years,” study author Jean M. Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor, said in a news release. “The large declines in religious practice among young adults are also further evidence that Millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history.”

A Pew Research study released last year found similar results, but also found that people who are religious are just as devout as ever.

In Pew data from 2014, two-thirds of religious adults said they pray every single day and religion is very essential to them, and approximately 60 percent say they attend religious services at least once or twice a month, at least. The survey organization said those numbers did not change much from 2007.

Furthermore, the percentage of religious adults who say they regularly read scripture, share their faith with other individuals and get involved in small prayer or scripture study groups all rose modestly from 2007 to 2014. And approximately 40 percent religious adults said in 2014 that they rely primarily on their spiritual convictions for guidance on questions around right and wrong, up 7 percentage points in 7 years.

The Pew Study also found 89 percent of Americans in 2014 said they believe in God, which it said was “remarkably high” among industrialized nations.


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