Americans took God out of public schools. And universities, mostly. And, over the years, government. And social issues. And holiday references. And there even have been attempts to banish God, or belief in Him, from business, including in the fight over abortion funding in Obamacare.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a new Pew Research poll found 56 percent of Americans say it’s not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values.
That’s up from the 49 percent who expressed that view in 2011.
“This increase reflects the continued growth in the share of the population that has no religious affiliation, but it also is the result of changing attitudes among those who do identify with a religion, including white evangelical Protestants,” Pew said.
At the same time, those who believe God is needed for morality dropped from 48 percent to 42 percent.
The organization reported the “unnecessarily” view has been common among the “nones” for years. Those are people who believe in “nothing in particular.”
They, Pew reported, are “more likely than those who identify with a religion to say that belief in God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality.”
“So the public’s increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious ‘nones.'”
The “nones” totaled 18 percent of the sample back in 2011 and stand at 25 percent today.
“But the continued growth of the ‘nones’ is only part of the story. Attitudes about the necessity of belief in God for morality have also changed among those who do identify with a religion. Among all religiously affiliated adults, the share who say belief in God is unnecessary for morality ticked up modestly, from 42 percent in 2011 to 45 percent in 2017,” Pew said.
The report shows nearly one third, 32 percent, of white evangelicals now have that belief, as do 63 percent of white mainline churchegoers. Black Protestants still hold much closer to biblical standards, with only 26 percent saying God’s not needed for morality.
Eighty-five percent of the “religiously unaffiliated” are of that persuasion.
Pew reported a few weeks ago that the “nones” were growing in number.
“While nationwide surveys in the 1970s and ’80s found that fewer than one-in-ten U.S. adults said they had no religious affiliation, fully 23 percent now describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or ‘nothing in particular,'” the report said.
It explained, however, some believe “the growth of the ‘nones’ may simply indicate that people who are not religious are becoming more forthright and willing to say they have no religious affiliation, perhaps because being a ‘none’ has become more socially acceptable.”
Pew said those “who are not religiously active and who don’t hold strong religious beliefs are more likely now than similar people were in the past to say they have no religion.”
But the polling company also reported such attitudes are more common among younger generations.
“Nearly eight-in-ten Millennials with low levels of religious commitment describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or ‘nothing in particular.’ By contrast, just 54 percent of Americans in the Silent and Greatest generations who have low levels of religious commitment say they are unaffiliated; 45 percent claim a religion.”