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Survey Reveals More Americans Remain Spiritual Yet Religiously Unaffiliated

The number of individuals in the United States who do not identify with any religious group is on the rise, indicating that they exhibit diverse spiritual and religious perspectives, with 43 percent expressing a belief in God or a higher power, and an equal percentage describing themselves as spiritual but not adhering to any particular religion.

Those are findings from a new survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, a partnership between the Associated Press news agency and the University of Chicago. 

Held in May 2023 and featuring responses from 1,680 adults across 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, the poll revealed that 30 percent of participants identified as having no religious affiliation, including those who identified as agnostic, atheist, or simply as “nothing in particular.” 

Compared with statistics from an October 2021 AP-NORC survey, there was an increase of 8 percentage points in the number of individuals who reported having no religious affiliation, rising from 22 percent.  

The data also revealed a decrease in the proportion of Americans who identified as “Just Christian,” declining from 21 percent in October 2021 to 18 percent in May 2023. Similarly, the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant decreased from 26 to 25 percent during the same timeframe.  

The May AP-NORC survey also noted a rise in the number of Americans who expressed “hardly any confidence” in the individuals leading organized religion, increasing from 37 percent in 2020 to 44 percent in 2023.  

The figures for 2023 and 2020 surpass those of 2017 and 2016, with a higher percentage of individuals indicating “hardly any confidence” in those overseeing organized religion. Specifically, in 2017, the percentage was 32, and in 2016, it stood at 24.  

Additional findings from the poll indicate that 55 percent of respondents did not identify as religious because of their dislike of organized religion.   

A third of the respondents reported that they do not identify as religious because they “don’t believe in God,” while 55 percent stated that their aversion to religious faith is because they disapprove of the stances that religious denominations adopt on political or social matters.