Half of Americans believe in God – the lowest number in history

A majority of Americans now say they are not sure about the existence of God, according to a new survey.

The General Social Survey, which has charted societal trends in the United States since 1972, found that just under 50 per cent of Americans were unwavering in their belief of God’s existence.

That’s compared to two-thirds of American adults in 1993, and 60 per cent in 2008, holding unshakeable faith.

The poll conducted by the University of Chicago’s research group NORC found that 34 per cent of Americans never go to church, the highest figure recorded in five decades.

However, just seven per cent of respondents said they did not believe in God at all. And nearly three-quarters of Americans said they did believe in life after death, a figure that has remained steady for several decades.

Church membership, attendance and religious belief has been declining for decades, gathering pace during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a Pew Research Center study, as recently as the 1990s, roughly 90 per cent of US adults considered themselves Christian.

Roughly two-thirds of US adults now identify as Christian, with most of the shift coming from those raised in the church becoming disaffiliated as they grow older.

A study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that 27 per cent of Americans claimed no religious affiliation in 2022, up from 23 per cent in 2020 and 16 per cent in 2008.

At the same time, the number of Americans who identified as White evangelical Protestants has declined from 23 per cent in 2008 to 13.6 per cent in 2022.

Declining religious belief and church attendance are highest among Generation Z (AP2017)
Declining religious belief and church attendance are highest among Generation Z (AP2017)

White Catholics now make up 12.6 per cent of the adult population, compared to 16 per cent in 2008.

One group bucking the downward trend is nondenominational Protestants, or “nons”.

The General Social Survey found that “nons”, who typically attend mega churches, make up 15 per cent of the population and were the second largest religious group after Catholics.

Declining religious rates are most pronounced in younger generations.

A 2022 study by the Survey Center on American Life found that 34 per cent of Generation Z were unaffiliated to any church, compared to 29 per cent of Millenials and 25 per cent of Generation X.

The General Social Survey, conducted in-person, on the web and in phone interviews, is second only to the US Census as a reliable source of information for social scientists, according to a University of Chicago press release.