ARIS 2008 Report: Highlights

The ARIS 2008 survey was carried out
during February-November 2008 and
collected answers from 54,461 respondents
who were questioned in English or

The American population self-identifies as
predominantly Christian but Americans
are slowly becoming less Christian.

• 86% of American adults identified as
Christians in 1990 and 76% in 2008.

• The historic Mainline churches and
denominations have experienced
the steepest declines while the non-
denominational Christian identity
has been trending upward particularly
since 2001.

• The challenge to Christianity in
the U.S. does not come from other
religions but rather from a rejection of
all forms of organized religion.

34% of American adults considered
themselves “Born Again or Evangelical
Christians” in 2008.

The U. S. population continues to show
signs of becoming less religious, with
one out of every five Americans failing to
indicate a religious identity in 2008.

• The “Nones” (no stated religious
preference, atheist, or agnostic)
continue to grow, though at a much
slower pace than in the 1990s, from
8.2% in 1990, to 14.1% in 2001, to
15.0% in 2008.

• Asian Americans are substantially
more likely to indicate no religious
identity than other racial or ethnic

One sign of the lack of attachment of
Americans to religion is that 27% do not
expect a religious funeral at their death.

Based on their stated beliefs rather than
their religious identification in 2008,
70% of Americans believe in a personal
God, roughly 12% of Americans are
atheist (no God) or agnostic (unknowable
or unsure), and another 12% are deistic
(a higher power but no personal God).

America’s religious geography has been
transformed since 1990. Religious
switching along with Hispanic
immigration has significantly changed
the religious profile of some states and
regions. Between 1990 and 2008, the
Catholic population proportion of the
New England states fell from 50% to
36% and in New York it fell from 44%
to 37%, while it rose in California from
29% to 37% and in Texas from 23%
to 32%.

Overall the 1990-2008 ARIS time
series shows that changes in religious
self-identification in the first decade of
the 21st century have been moderate in
comparison to the 1990s, which was a
period of significant shifts in the religious
composition of the United States.

ARIS 2008