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Americans Identify as Religious, Not Seen That Way

— August 24, 2023

Affluent countries don’t view the U.S. as very religious compared to other countries.

The vast majority of Americans identify as religious or spiritual in some capacity. However, the results of the World Values Survey from 2017 indicate that the United States is more secular than the average country. Throughout its history, the United States has been home to a vibrant community of people practicing a wide range of traditions. And despite the fact that there is substantial data to suggest that it is a religious country, a modest percentage of individuals all around the world believe that the United States is more religious than other resourceful nations.

The First Amendment to the Constitution ensures people have the right to practice their faith freely, and the United States has always had a history distinguished by religious plurality and variety. This can be traced back to the many aboriginal religions before colonization. In several polled countries, the most common response was that the U.S. is approximately as religious as other affluent countries. For example, more than 59% of adults in Hungary and 54% in Spain believe this to be true. However, the large majority of people in certain foreign countries believe that the United States is actually less religious than other prosperous nations. In Mexico, over half of adults (48%) agree with this statement, making it one of nine nations studied in which at least 33% agree.

Americans Identify as Religious, Not Seen That Way
Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

According to a poll conducted by the Center, people in the United States are more likely than people in many other high-income nations to indicate that religion plays a very significant role in their lives. This sentiment is held by around 41% of Americans, which is close to twice as many as the median percentage (21%) of affluent nations polled.

The United States, on the other hand, has a percentage of religiously affiliated adults that is more comparable to that of other prosperous countries. Roughly 70% of adults in the United States identify as members of a religious community compared to a median of 64% in the other high-income nations included in the spring poll. The United States of America ranks out among affluent countries in terms of religious devotion, according to a study conducted by the Center in 2018. The United States of America was the only nation out of 102 examined that had both a higher-than-average gross domestic product per capita and a higher-than-average frequency of daily prayer.

Despite this, religious devotion and identifying with a specific denomination in the United States has declined in recent decades, mirroring a trend seen in other developed nations. The percentage of Americans who self-identify as atheists, agnostics, or as believing “nothing in particular” has increased from around 8% to 29% since the 1990s. According to the Pew Research Center forecasts, the number of people in the United States who do not identify with any religious group may soon surpass the number of Christians. This indicates that time will further tell the religious stance of the United States when compared to other affluent countries.


The U.S. is not widely seen as highly religious

How Americans’ views of the U.S. compare with international views of the U.S.

Religion in the United States

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