A Pew Research Center study released on Tuesday (May 12) revealed that the number of Americans who do not identify or affiliate with any religion has grown to 56 million, ranking them just behind Evangelical Christians.
These numbers are compromised mainly of people who do believe in God or a higher power and refer to themselves as 'spiritual.' Thirty-one percent of this group, referred to in the research as 'Nones,' would refer to themselves as either atheist or agnostic, an increase from 25 percent in 2007.
The United States, though, is still home to more Christians than any other country in the world.
The number of the largest Christian denomination, the Evangelicals, has decreased, but remained stable, with a small drop of one percent of the population. They number around 62 million adherents.
The next largest group, adherents of the Roman Catholic Church, have dropped by three percent. According to the study, there are an estimated 51 million Catholic adults in the United States.
But there has been an increase in the number of non-Christian faiths. Though their numbers remain small, Hindus and Muslims each compromise less than one percent of the population, while Jews have seen an increase from 1.7 percent to 1.9 percent.
In earlier separate research also by the Pew Research center, it is projected that Muslims will eventually overtake Jews as the largest non-Christian faith in the United States. It is also projected that the number of Christians will decline from 78 percent of the population to 66 percent.
But in global growth projections by Pew, non-religious affiliates will increase in overall number while rapidly declining in overall global population from 16 percent to 13 percent.
Religions will grow overall, with Muslims expected to increase rapidly with near parity to Christianity--Muslims at 29.7 percent and Christians at 31.4 percent in 2050. Majority of Unaffiliated will be concentrated in Europe and North America.
'Nones' are projected to be around 25 percent of the population in the United States by 2050.