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NEW YORK (AP) — The new Pew Research Center survey of religious affiliation finds that a growing number of Americans don't believe in God.
Pew researchers say the number of Americans who don't affiliate with any particular religion has grown to 56 million in recent years. While that category includes some who still believe in God or consider themselves "spiritual," the new study also found substantial increases in those who say they're atheist or agnostic.
The Rev. Russell Moore, who guides public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, found the results indicative of people's willingness to be more open about their beliefs. In a blog posting, Moore says, "We do not have more atheists in America. We have more honest atheists in America."
But secular groups also have become increasingly organized to counter bias against them and keep religion out of public life through lawsuits and lobbying lawmakers.
Pew researchers found that more than 70 percent of Americans identify as Christians, but that's down about 8 percent from 2007. They say the Christian losses were driven by decreases among liberal Protestants and Roman Catholics. Pew found 13 percent of U.S. adults are former Catholics.
172-c-21-(Rachel Zoll, AP religion writer)-"atheist or agnostic"-AP religion writer Rachel Zoll reports more than a fifth of Americans consider themselves completely secular. (12 May 2015)
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173-c-24-(Rachel Zoll, AP religion writer)-"them back home"-AP religion writer Rachel Zoll reports the new numbers have some religious leaders concerned. (12 May 2015)
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171-c-15-(Rachel Zoll, AP religion writer)-"over 20 percent"-AP religion writer Rachel Zoll reports a new survey finds the percentage of Americans calling themselves Christian has dropped from the high 70s to the low 70s. (12 May 2015)
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174-c-12-(Rachel Zoll, AP religion writer)-"about a lot"-AP religion writer Rachel Zoll reports the study has implications for political debate. (12 May 2015)