Barry Kosmin - One Nation, Losing God

December 31, 2010

Host: Chris Mooney

By now you've probably heard the finding-the United States is growing less godly. More precisely, more and more Americans in surveys report that they lack a religious identity.

These are the so-called "nones," and they already comprise 15 percent of the total population. But there are estimates that their numbers will continue to grow and could someday even surpass major denominations like Catholicism (currently 24% of the country). Being a "none" is particularly popular among those aged 18-29.

Barry Kosmin is the nation's leading expert on the "nones," a group that he studies through the ARIS, or American Religious Identification Survey. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, he discusses where America is heading with respect to its religious identity, why this change is occurring, and what the implications will be for secular advocacy in the future.

Barry Kosmin is a sociologist and research professor in the Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College, and founding director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. Dr. Kosmin has been a principal investigator of the American Religious Identification Survey series since its inception in 1990 as well as national social surveys in Europe, Africa, and Asia. His publications include One Nation under God: Religion in Contemporary American Society (1993) and Religion in a Free Market (2006).

Comments from the CFI Forums

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“The people who went around pronouncing that the United States was a christian nation by the very act of doing it so loudly helped push us into becoming less of a christian nation”.

Chris just won’t let this idea go will he? He is so sure that advocating something results in the opposite effect. I just know he was making this point tongue in cheek to say “see… I told you atheists… don’t criticize religion!”

Posted on Jan 03, 2011 at 6:37pm by kennykjc Comment #1

Perhaps there is a trend away from dogmatic religions, without giving up belief in god. That way everyone can relate in their own way, without having to follow the required “proper way, or else hell”.
Then also, I have talked to christians who “ignore” the old testament, but have a belief in christ as a “personal saviour”.

Posted on Jan 04, 2011 at 12:32am by Write4U Comment #2

can we get over the Losing God,
and worry about finding Science…


Posted on Jan 04, 2011 at 4:29am by Comment #3

How do you lose what you never caught?


Posted on Jan 04, 2011 at 10:45pm by psikeyhackr Comment #4

Just finished this while driving into the office to get caught up.
Dovetails with Charles M. Blow’s NYT article

And here is Mooney’s intersection blog—

I noticed Kosmin made the point that the “nones” are not unifomly social democrats, and that they tend to more “independent” politically.

Kosmin also makes the point that the US is a strange place with a significant number of “nones” who are science-minded but also has a significant number of literal-minded-evangelical types…..

Posted on Jan 09, 2011 at 3:43pm by Jackson Comment #5