Oct 18, 2019

Americans are increasingly shedding their religious affiliations

Photo: Hanan Isachar/Getty Images

The share of Americans with no religious affiliation is rising significantly in tandem with a sharp drop in the percentage that identifies as Christians, reports AP, based on data from the Pew Research Center.

The big picture: Many of the country's biggest religious institutions are mired in upheaval and scandal, as well as criticized for failing to adapt to modern norms, further alienating potential attendees.

  • The Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention are both facing ongoing sex abuse scandals.
  • The United Methodist Church, which comprises the largest group of Protestants in the U.S., is facing a possible schism over the inclusion of LGBTQ in its community.

By the numbers: Pew said 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christian, down from 77% in 2009, based on telephone surveys from 2018 and 2019.

  • The percentage of people who identify as atheist, agnostic or "nothing in particular," often referred to as the "nones," stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.
  • 43% of U.S. adults identify as Protestant, compared to 51% in 2009.
  • 20% of U.S. adults identify as Catholic, compared to 23% in 2009.

Go deeper: Religion is fueling a new wave of immigration activism

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Pope weighs allowing female deacons and married priests in Amazon region

Pope Francis talks to bishops at the end of the closing session of the Synod on the Pan-Amazon region, Oct. 26, Vatican City. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti-Corbis/Corbis

Pope Francis announced that a study into ordaining female deacons would be reopened after a Vatican meeting of bishops from the Amazon voted for the move and to allow the ordination of married men as priests in the region, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The overhaul of centuries of Catholic teachings on priests' celibacy and women's role in the church would address the issue of a priest shortage in the Amazon region, but many traditional conservatives are against such moves.

Go deeperArrowOct 27, 2019

Smoking cigarettes in the U.S. hits all-time low

Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Cigarette smoking among U.S. adults reached an all-time low in 2018 at nearly 14%, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday, a decline of roughly 66% over the last 50 years.

Between the lines: Smoking cigarettes remains deadlier than vaping despite a spotlight on the 2,000-plus cases and dozens of deaths associated with e-cigarette lung injuries this year. More than 34 million adults continue to smoke, and millions more use other tobacco products, per the study.

Go deeperArrowNov 14, 2019

More couples are living together despite fewer marriages

Photo: The Washington Post/Contributor/Getty Images

Nearly 70% of Americans find it acceptable for unmarried couples to cohabit, even if they do not plan to get married, a Pew Research Center study released Wednesday shows.

Why it matters: As marriage rates in the U.S. have fallen, more unwed partners are choosing to live under one roof. However, the Pew analysis finds that married couples indicate more trust and relationship satisfaction than those who cohabit but remain unmarried.

Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019