Given a “yes” or “no” option, 89 percent of Americans — about nine in 10 — said they believe in God, while one in ten say they do not, according to a new Gallup Poll conducted June 14-23, 2016.
But the pollster notes that 89 percent is down from levels seen in past decades.
When Gallup first asked Americans, “Do you, personally, believe in a God?” in 1944, 96 percent said yes. Between 94 percent and 98 percent of Americans said they believed in God in other surveys conducted through 1967. In 1976, Gallup modified the wording and asked Americans about their belief in “God or a universal spirit,” with 94 percent to 96 percent expressing belief through 1994.
In a separate poll conducted May 4-8, 2016, Gallup asked the question in a different way: “For each of the following items I am going to read you, please tell me whether it is something you believe in, something you’re not sure about or something you don’t believe in: God.”
In this poll, 79 percent said they “believe in” God, 10 percent said “not sure about,” and 11 percent said “don’t believe in.”
In 2001 and 2004, 90 percent of U.S. adults said they believed in God, with 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, saying they were unsure. By 2007, the percentage choosing “believe in God” had dropped slightly to 86 percent, with another 8 percent expressing uncertainty. This year, “believe in God” dropped further to 79 percent with 10 percent unsure.
“Still,” Gallup notes, “the 89 percent who either believe in God or are unsure (as opposed to those saying they don’t believe in God) is the same as the 89 percent who respond affirmatively when asked the simpler ‘yes or no’ question, ‘Do you believe in God?’
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