Why are fewer Americans identifying with a religion?

The number of Americans who don’t identify with any religion is growing. A new study by Trinity College suggests that more than one in five Americans will identify themselves as “Nones” in religious terms in 20 years (up from 15 percent now). Most would not consider themselves atheists. But they are increasingly skeptical of organized religion and clerics. They are, said one researcher, a stew of agnostics, deists and rationalists – and their numbers appear to be increasing.

Clearly, interest in religion is high. News magazines run cover stories. Megachurches are booming. Political campaigns target churchgoers as a valuable metric to win elections.

So why are fewer Americans identifying with a religion, denomination or particular faith group? Why are a growing number of people becoming faith-free? And if the trend continues, is it a matter of alarm?

These are questions Wayne Slater, of The Dallas Morning News, asked of a panel of religious leaders.

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This post was last updated: Sep. 30, 2009