The trend results are based on annual averages of Gallup's religious identity data in America that stretch back over 60 years. One of the most significant trends documented during this period is the substantial increase in the percentage of American adults who don't identify with any specific religion. In 1948, only 2% of Americans did not identify with a religion. That percentage began to rise in the late 1960s and early 1970s.That's important. There are a number of Americans out there who aren't Christian, but there are a growing number of Americans who simply don't see themselves as having a religion. Keep in mind that 13% represents tens of millions of Americans, too. So whatever religion you celebrate...or don't, for that matter...have a good one.
Eleven years ago, in 1998, 6% of Americans did not identify with a religion, a number that rose to 10% by 2002. This year's average of 13% of Americans who claim no religious identity is the highest in Gallup records.
The percentage of Americans who identify as Catholic, Protestant, or some other non-Catholic Christian faith has been concomitantly decreasing over the years. This suggests that one of the major patterns of religious transition in America in recent decades has been the shift from identification as Christian to the status of having no specific religious identification.
In 1948, 91% of Americans identified with a Christian faith. Twenty years ago, in 1989, 82% of Americans identified as Christian. Ten years ago, it was 84%. This year, as noted, 78% of all American adults identify with a Christian faith.
There has also been a slight increase in the percentage of Americans who identify with a religion that is not specifically classified as Christian. Sixty years ago, for example, 4% of Americans identified with a non-Christian religion. By 1989, 9% of Americans were in this non-Christian religion category, the same percentage as today.
And remember, it's not an excuse to find a difference, but a similarity.