Nearly half of U.S. adults think that the growing trend of non-religiosity is a “bad thing,” according to a survey released Tuesday by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
When asked whether having “more people who are not religious” is a good thing, a bad thing, or doesn’t matter, 48 percent of Americans said the trend was a bad thing, compared to 11 percent who said it was good and 39 percent who were indifferent. The findings are based on a nationwide survey of 4,006 adults conducted in March and April.
“[T]here has been a modest uptick over the past decade in the share of U.S. adults who say they seldom or never attend religious services,” the Pew Forum said in an announcement. “The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion also has grown in recent years; indeed, about one-fifth of the public overall – and a third of adults under age 30 – are religiously unaffiliated as of 2012.”
The survey, which breaks down answers by the religious denomination, found that white evangelical Protestants are especially likely to say the growing number of people who are not religious as a negative thing for American society, with 78 percent reporting the trend as a bad thing. Majorities of black Protestants (64%) and white non-Hispanic Catholics (56%) said the same. Fewer than one-in-ten in each of the three groups says the trend is a good thing for society, according to the Pew Forum.
Even among the non-religious, the survey showed that the trend of non-religiosity is not considered a good thing. Only 24 percent of those who have no religious affiliation said it is a good thing that more people are not religious, while 19 percent said it was bad and a 55 percent majority said it doesn’t make much difference for society.
This report is based on telephone interviews conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, among a national sample of 4,006 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.