Americans’ Belief In God, Heaven, Hell Continues Prolonged Decline


By Daniel Payne

Americans are increasingly rejecting the idea of God along with other religious and spiritual concepts, continuing a decades-long trend that shows an ongoing decline in belief in key religious tenets. 

A July poll from Gallup shows a marked decrease in belief in “God, angels, heaven, hell, and the devil” among U.S. adults since the last time the survey question was asked in 2016. 

Seven years ago, 79% of respondents said they believed in God; just 74% said the same thing in this month’s survey, a decline of five percentage points. 

Overall belief in God has declined by 16 percentage points since the survey has been conducted, with 90% of respondents affirming that faith in 2001. 

Similar declines in belief have been recorded regarding the devil, heaven, hell, and angels, with each one seeing double-digit declines in professed believers over the 22 years in question. 

Gallup in its analysis noted that Protestants “are more likely than Catholics to believe in each of the five entities,” though “broad majorities of Catholics still believe in each.”

Unsurprisingly, those who claimed more frequent attendance of religious services reported much higher beliefs in each religious entity or concept. Among those who attend church weekly, 98% said they believed in God, while 92% said they believed in heaven. 

Republicans were significantly more likely than either Democrats or Independents to say they believed in all five categories. In total, “about half of Americans, 51%, believe in all five spiritual entities.”

Gallup “has documented sharp declines in church attendance, confidence in organized religion, and religious identification in recent years,” the polling service said, although a Gallup survey from last month saw a slight uptick in church attendance, with that number “the highest found by the pollsters since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Other polls have shown notably low levels of belief among U.S. Catholics in particular. A RealClear Opinion Research poll last year showed that just half of likely Catholic voters believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, while over a third never go to confession. A Pew Research Center survey from 2019 found that just one-third of Catholics believe the body and blood of Christ are really and truly present in the bread and wine during Mass.

Nearly half of Catholic respondents in an EWTN poll last year, meanwhile, disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade’s nationwide abortion-on-demand precedent, though a nearly similar number supported it. Another Pew poll from last year, meanwhile, found that over half of U.S. Catholics believe abortion should be legal “in all/most cases,” though that number dropped to 30 percent among Catholics who attend Mass weekly.


The Catholic News Agency (CNA) has been, since 2004, one of the fastest growing Catholic news providers to the English speaking world. The Catholic News Agency takes much of its mission from its sister agency, ACI Prensa, which was founded in Lima, Peru, in 1980 by Fr. Adalbert Marie Mohm (†1986).

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