Are Americans Becoming Less Religious?
MATTHEWS, NC- Americans appear to be less religious.
A new study finds 20 percent don't identify with any specific religion.
29 percent seldom or never go to services. It's stirring debate in a city that prides itself as being a church town.
As people filled the sanctuary at New Beginnings Church in Matthews on Tuesday, a new survey from Pew Research shows one third of Americans under 30 do not identify with a religion.
"Every week we see new people coming making professions of faith," said Reverend Twanna Henderson.
Henderson says the study does not accurately portray what she sees locally.
"We believe that the church is more relevant than it's ever been and we have more mega churches than We've ever seen before," said Henderson.
The study shows that 20 percent of adults consider themselves atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular.
That number is growing and the president of Charlotte Atheists & Agnostics says he's seeing a similar trend.
"Nearly everyday I'm getting a notification saying a new member has registered. It used to be every week or twice a week," said Shawn Murphy.
Murphy says most new members are former Christians.
Pastor Jonathon Coppedge-Henley at First United Methodist Church says that's in large part to politics.
"Everything from the Chick-Fil-A thing to Amendment one, we've seen people who I believe have been faithful and good Christians leave the church because they don't want to be associated with 'us'," said Coppedge-Henley.
The study doesn't specify if they attend a worship service, but it does show that close to 60 percent of Americans still say religion is very important to them.
Murphy says he expects the number of non-believers to grow, especially among young people.
"They seem more and more comfortable with describing themselves as atheist or agnostics," said Murphy.