Americans Practicing Religion Less Rigorously, Poll Finds

(CN) – Even as Christmas lights still hang from homes across the United States, a Gallup poll finds that while most Americans still identify with a religion, a third do not consider themselves religious.

The results demonstrate an ongoing decline in religious practice in the United States, though this year’s numbers indicate a less steep drop than in previous findings.

Though nearly 4 out of 5 Americans identify as Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or other faiths, only 37 percent say they’re highly religious, compared to 38 percent in 2016.  Those who say they’re not religious climbed a point from last year, from 32 to 33 percent.

Meanwhile, those who do not have a religious identity rose slightly from 20.8 percent in 2016 to 21.3 percent. Americans of non-Christian faiths, including Judaism and Islam, mostly remained unchanged.

“All of these groups are within a percentage point of where they were in 2016, suggesting that the shifts seen in previous years have stabilized, particularly the growth among those with no religious identity,” Gallup’s editor-in-chief Frank Newport wrote.

The number of Americans with no religious identity has slowly increased since 2000, when only 8 percent identified as having no religion.

President Donald Trump’s approval numbers also appear to split between white Americans of different religious activity. Sixty-four percent of highly religious white people approve of the president, compared to just 32 percent of nonreligious white people.

Very few Americans of color approve of the president, regardless of the level of their religious activity: only 19 percent identifying as highly religious approve of Trump, compared with 18 percent of the moderately religious and 16 percent of the not religious people of color.

In another poll, Gallup found donations to religious organizations have also decreased since the turn of the millennium. The number of Americans who donate to such groups decreased from 62 percent in 2001 to 52 percent in 2017.

Donations to secular charities, however, remain stable at 75 percent.

While the Gallup polls don’t show a strong movement toward secularism, there is a growing trend among younger people who do not identify with any particular religion.

According to a Pew Research Center poll, 9 out of 10 Americans celebrated Christmas this week. Only 32 percent of millennials, however, view it as a religious holiday, and 44 percent deem it more of a cultural holiday.

While religious identity numbers didn’t change much between 2016 and 2017, they have been in steep decline since 1948. That year, 69 percent of Americans identified as Protestant, compared to 48.5 percent in 2017.

A call for comment by Gallup was not returned in time for publication.

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