“No Religion” Ties Catholicism As Biggest “Religious” Affiliation

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There are now more non-religious Americans than ever before.

Recent survey data says that "no religion" is tied with evangelicalism and Catholicism as the biggest religious identity in the U.S.—a historical first, with large implications to both religion and politics. Newly released General Social Survey data showed that in 2018, the group of Americans who identified with "no religion,” often referred to as "nones,” experienced a 1.5% uptick since 2016. They now represent 23.1% of the population.

Evangelicals, on the other hand, made up 23.9% of Americans in 2016 and 22.5% in 2018. This statistically ties the two groups with Catholics as the biggest religious—or lack thereof—group in the U.S.

“Nones have been on the march for a long time now,” said Ryan P. Burge, a researcher at Eastern Illinois University. “It’s been a constant, steady increase for 20 years now. If the trend line kept up, we knew this was going to happen.”

The change has significant implications for the future of politics. Evangelicals typically identify closer to the right but are disproportionately active in politics compared to national averages. According to exit polls, white evangelicals alone represented 26% of total voters in the 2016 election, even though they make up only about 15% of the population.

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