The United States has seen a steady increase in the number of people who claim no religion since 1990.
In a 2018 survey of over 2,000 people, 23.1% said that they were not affiliated with a religion. The survey reported that 23.0% said they were Catholic and 22.5% were evangelicals. All three numbers are within the margin of error with one another, making the results a three-way tie.
People who have “no religion” are a group comprised of atheists, agnostics, the spiritual, and those who have no specific organized religion. Many believe that millennials are driving the trend and that the “no religion” group will be the largest within the next four to six years. The shift away from any one dominant religious group is seen as beneficial for a secular society with a government built on the idea of separation of church and state.
The least religious states are Massachusetts and New Hampshire, both of which have only 33% of adults identifying themselves as “highly religious.” In Boston, Massachusetts, new belief systems and values dominate the city, shifting people away from religion. These include equality for women and LGBTQ rights, causing more people to reject patriarchal or anti-gay religions. Additionally, people are shifting their focus to higher education’s critical thinking, scientific ways of thinking and evidence, and liberal politics for progress and social justice.
These reasons can be applied to much of the Northeast United States, where most of the least religious states are located. The most religious states in the US are located in the South. Alabama and Mississippi are the most religious states in the US, with 77% of people reporting that they are highly religious. All of the top ten most religious states in the US are located in the Bible Belt, an informal region in the southeast United States where socially conservative evangelical Protestantism and Christian church attendance are the strongest in the nation.