The most popular religions worldwide, as I noted in the earlier post, are Christianity (2.1 billion followers), Islam (1.5 billion), secular/agnostic/atheist (1.1 billion), Hinduism (900 million), Chinese traditional religion (394 million), and Buddhism (376 million).
While Christianity has a slight edge in popularity worldwide, it is far and away the most popular religion in the United States.
Broad-brushing the results of recent surveys, the majority of Americans (seventy-six percent) identify themselves as Christians, with Protestant adherents accounting for fifty-one percent of the U.S. population and Catholics for twenty-five percent. About 3.9 percent to 5.5 percent of the adult U.S. population is affiliated with non-Christian religions including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and so on. Another 15 percent of the adult population identifies as having no religious belief or no religious affiliation. About 5.2 percent responded to the surveys saying they did not know what religion they were, or more characteristically, refused to reply to a question about their private beliefs.
According to the American Religious Identification Survey, religious belief varies considerably across the country: fifty-nine percent of Americans living in Western states report a belief in God, but in the South (the "Bible Belt"), the figure is as high as eighty-six percent.
A 2009 online Harris poll of 2,303 U.S. adults 18 and older found that "eighty-two percent of adult Americans believe in God,” the same number as in two earlier polls in 2005 and 2007. Another nine percent said they did not believe in God, and nine percent said that they were not sure. It further concluded, "Large majorities also believe in miracles (seventy-six percent), heaven (seventy-five percent), that Jesus is God or the Son of God (seventy-three percent), in angels (seventy-two percent), the survival of the soul after death (seventy-one percent), and in the resurrection of Jesus (seventy percent). Substantial minorities of adults, including many Christians, reported holding pagan or pre-Christian beliefs such as a belief in ghosts, astrology, witches, and reincarnation.
While more than seventy-five percent of Americans call themselves Christians, many of them are not regular churchgoers, an indication that their beliefs may be held rather shallowly.
According to a poll by Gallup International, forty-one percent of Americans reported that they regularly attended religious services, compared to fifteen percent of French citizens, ten percent of UK citizens, and 7.5 percent of Australian citizens.
However, the Gallup numbers are open to dispute. ReligiousTolerance.org states: "Church attendance data in the U.S. has been checked against actual values using two different techniques. The true figures show that only about twenty-one percent of Americans and ten percent of Canadians actually go to church one or more times a week. Many Americans and Canadians tell pollsters that they have gone to church even though they have not."
A 2006 online Harris Poll of 2,010 U.S. adults 18 and older found that only twenty-six percent of those surveyed attended religious services "every week or more often,” nine percent went "once or twice a month,” twenty-one percent went "a few times a year,” three percent went "once a year,” twenty-two percent went "less than once a year,” and eighteen percent said they never attend religious services. An identical survey by Harris in 2003 found that only twenty-six percent of those surveyed attended religious services "every week or more often,” eleven percent went "once or twice a month,” nineteen percent went "a few times a year,” four percent went "once a year,” sixteen percent went "less than once a year,” and twenty-five percent said they never attend religious services.