A recent Gallup poll has shown a significant shift in Americans’ spiritual and religious beliefs over the past two decades. According to the July 2023 poll, 47% of Americans identify as religious, a 7% decline from 1999. Meanwhile, 33% consider themselves spiritual but not religious, and 2% say they are both. Notably, 18% of respondents stated they are neither religious nor spiritual, which has doubled since the question was first posed in 1999.
The poll, which revisits questions asked in 1999 and 2002, reveals that 82% of Americans still maintain some form of spiritual belief system. However, this decreased from 90% in 1999 to 87% in 2002.
The data aligns with other Gallup measures indicating a decline in religiosity and religious practices, especially over the past two decades. While belief in God and prayer remains relatively stable, there has been a more pronounced drop in formal religious practices such as church attendance and membership.
Partisanship and Age as Key Indicators
The poll also highlighted significant variations in religious and spiritual beliefs based on party identification and age. Republicans lead in religious identification at 61%, followed by independents at 44% and Democrats at 37%. Interestingly, Democrats and independents have an equal proportion (21%) of those who identify as neither religious nor spiritual, a figure that is significantly higher than the 8% among Republicans.
Age-wise, senior citizens (65 and older) are the most religious, with 57% identifying as such. In contrast, young adults are more inclined towards being neither religious nor spiritual, with 26% in this category, nearly thrice the percentage of seniors without a belief system.
Shift in Democrats’ Religious Identification
In 1999, Democrats and Republicans were almost equally likely to identify as religious, at 60% and 62%, respectively. However, over the years, there has been a 23-point drop among Democrats identifying as religious. In contrast, the percentage of Democrats identifying as spiritual but not religious has risen by 14 points. The number of Democrats who say they are neither has tripled.
Republicans have seen little change in their religious or spiritual self-identification, while independents have shown a slight decrease in spiritual identification and a minor increase in those identifying as neither religious nor spiritual.
The trend of declining religiosity in America is evident, yet a significant majority still identify as either religious or spiritual. While some former religious individuals may have shifted towards non-religious forms of spirituality, others have distanced themselves from any spiritual or religious practices. The data suggests that while there may be a decline, a substantial majority of U.S. adults will continue to have some form of spiritual or religious connection in their lives.