The number of adults in the U.S. who self-identify as Christian continued to decline in 2021, according to Pew Research Center data released Sept. 24.
Data from the latest National Public Opinion Reference Survey (NPORS) revealed that 61% of all respondents said they are Christian, with 40% identifying as Protestant and 21% as Catholic.
Nearly one-third (29%) of respondents said they are religiously unaffiliated, while 8% identify with another faith tradition and 2% did not respond to the question.
For the survey question, “What is your present religion, if any?” respondents were presented with the following options:
- Protestant (such as Baptist, Methodist, non-denominational, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Episcopalian, Reformed, Church of Christ, etc.)
- Roman Catholic
- Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS)
- Orthodox (such as Greek, Russian, or some other Orthodox church)
- Nothing in particular
- Something else (please specify)
At the time of this publication, a more detailed breakdown of the specific religious affiliations provided by respondents had not been posted to the 2021 NPORS results page.
Christian affiliation declined three-points from 2020 to 2021, with 64% self-identifying as Christian – Protestant (41%), Catholic (21%), Mormon (1%) or Orthodox Christian (less than 1%) – in the 2020 NPORS survey.
The 2021 NPORS figure is a five-point decline in Christian affiliation from another of Pew’s annual surveys – the 2020 American Trends Panel (ATP) survey – in which 65% of respondents affiliated with Christianity.
Religiously unaffiliated adults ticked up slightly in the 2021 NPORS survey, rising one point from both the 2020 NPORS survey and the 2020 ATP survey.
Affiliation with other faith traditions in 2021 was one point above the 2020 NPORS survey and two points higher than the 2020 ATP survey.
A significant decline in Christian affiliation and a corresponding rise in the religiously unaffiliated has been happening for years. An October 2019 Pew report shows a drop in Christian affiliation of 77% to 65% from 2009 to 2019, while the religiously unaffiliated increased from 17% to 26% over the same time period.
The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.1% for the 2021 NPORS survey. The published data is available here.