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Religion | IN BRIEF

10% of Americans Have No Religion, Poll Says

May 03, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

About 10% of Americans say they have no religion, and compared with other Americans, they tend to be younger, more liberal and more likely to live on the West Coast, according to the Gallup Organization.

Oregon and California have a larger percentage of residents identifying themselves as secularists, 15%, than other parts of the country (typically fewer than 10%), according to the research, which is based on polls conducted throughout 2002.

The secularists, while "being detached from the religious process, are also apparently more likely to be detached from other American institutions such as marriage and the political process," Gallup reported.

Sixty-nine percent of secularists surveyed said they are registered to vote, compared with 83% among Americans who claim religious preferences. The share of secularists who are unmarried and living with partners, 12%, is double that for religious Americans.

About 35% of secularists described themselves as liberal, which is about twice the percentage of self-described liberals among those who are religious. Similarly, about 20% of secularists said they are conservative -- about half the level in the religious population.

People from 18 to 29 are four times as likely as those older than 65 to be secularists.

Only about 1% of Americans describe themselves as atheists, who have no belief in God, or agnostics, who aren't sure about the existence of God, according to the Gallup study.

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