Pew: 1 in 5 Americans Have No Religious Affiliation

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Oct. 9 2012 1:59 PM

Pew: 1 in 5 Americans Have No Religious Affiliation

In God, fewer of us trust.

Although 79 percent of Americans still identify with an "established faith," 1 in 5 U.S. adults now say they are not affiliated with any particular religion.

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Recent data released by the Pew Research Center saw a dramatic increase in Americans who identify their religious beliefs as "nothing in particular," agnostic, or atheist—up from 8 percent in 1990 to nearly 20 percent today. For the first time ever, Protestants also make up fewer than half of the U.S. population at 48 percent. 

Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam believes the shift away from religious affiliation is a reaction to the religious right, since unaffiliated people tend to be liberal on social issues like abortion and gay rights. About two-thirds of unaffiliated people tend to vote for Democrats and make up 24 percent of the Democratic constituency. By comparison, white evangelicals make up 34 percent of the Republican base.

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