Belief in God in U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low

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BY JEFFREY M. JONES

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The vast majority of U.S. adults believe in God, but the 81% who do so is down six percentage points from 2017 and is the lowest in Gallup’s trend. Between 1944 and 2011, more than 90% of Americans believed in God.

Gallup’s May 2-22 Values and Beliefs poll finds 17% of Americans saying they do not believe in God.

Gallup first asked this question in 1944, repeating it again in 1947 and twice each in the 1950s and 1960s. In those latter four surveys, a consistent 98% said they believed in God. When Gallup asked the question nearly five decades later, in 2011, 92% of Americans said they believed in God.

A subsequent survey in 2013 found belief in God dipping below 90% to 87%, roughly where it stood in three subsequent updates between 2014 and 2017 before this year’s drop to 81%.

Gallup has also in recent years asked other questions aimed at measuring belief in God or a higher power. All find the vast majority of Americans saying they believe; when given the option, 5% to 10% have said they were “unsure.”

Younger, Liberal Americans Least Likely to Believe in God

Belief in God has fallen the most in recent years among young adults and people on the left of the political spectrum (liberals and Democrats). These groups show drops of 10 or more percentage points comparing the 2022 figures to an average of the 2013-2017 polls.

Most other key subgroups have experienced at least a modest decline, although conservatives and married adults have had essentially no change.

The groups with the largest declines are also the groups that are currently least likely to believe in God, including liberals (62%), young adults (68%) and Democrats (72%). Belief in God is highest among political conservatives (94%) and Republicans (92%), reflecting that religiosity is a major determinant of political divisions in the U.S.

Changes in Belief in God, by Subgroup

Figures are the percentage in each group who say they believe in God

2013-20172022Change
%%pct. pts.
Total878787818181−6
Gender
Men838383808080−3
Women909090838383−7
Race/Ethnicity
Non-Hispanic White people858585797979−6
People of color929292888888−4
Age
18-29 years old787878686868−10
30-49 years old868686818181−5
50-64 years old939393888888−5
65+ years old909090878787−3
Education
College graduate838383787878−5
Non-college graduate898989848484−5
Marital status
Married898989888888−1
Not married858585777777−8
Parental status
Children under 18888888848484−4
No children under 18868686818181−5
Party identification
Republican959595929292−3
Independent848484818181−3
Democrat848484727272−12
Ideological identification
Conservative959595949494−1
Moderate888888868686−2
Liberal737373626262−11
Region
East828282787878−4
Midwest878787797979−8
South939393868686−7
West828282808080−2
Place of residence
City resident868686828282−4
Suburban resident868686808080−6
Town/Rural resident898989828282−7

2013 to 2017 data are based on an average of 2013, 2014 and 2017 surveys.

Get the data

Four in 10 Say God Can Hear Prayers, Intervene

A follow-up question in the survey probed further into what Americans’ belief in God entails. Specifically, the question asked whether God hears prayers and whether God intervenes when people pray.

About half of those who believe in God — equal to 42% of all Americans — say God hears prayers and can intervene on a person’s behalf. Meanwhile, 28% of all Americans say God hears prayers but cannot intervene, while 11% think God does neither.

Nearly three-quarters of the most religious Americans, defined as those who attend religious services every week, say they believe God hears prayers and can intervene, as do slightly more than half of conservatives and Republicans, as well as 25% of liberals and 32% of Democrats.

Thirty percent of young adults believe God hears prayers and can intervene.

Americans’ Belief in God, by Subgroup

Do you believe in God?
Which comes closest to your view about God — God hears your prayers, God hears your prayers and can intervene on your behalf, or God does neither of these?

Hears prayers and intervenesHears prayers onlyDoes neitherDo not believe in God
%%%%
Religious service attendance
Weekly742321
Nearly weekly/Monthly5036103
Seldom/Never28271528
Party identification
Republican543177
Independent39301218
Democrat32251526
Ideological identification
Conservative563085
Moderate40331213
Liberal25211635
Age
18-29 years old3029932
30-49 years old40271417
50-64 years old5029109
65+ years old44311112

MAY 2-22, 2022  Get the data

Bottom Line

Fewer Americans today than five years ago believe in God, and the percentage is down even more from the 1950s and 1960s when almost all Americans did. Still, the vast majority of Americans believe in God, whether that means they believe a higher power hears prayers and can intervene or not. And while belief in God has declined in recent years, Gallup has documented steeper drops in church attendancechurch membership and confidence in organized religion, suggesting that the practice of religious faith may be changing more than basic faith in God.

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