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American Religion Not as Exceptional As We Think

DURHAM, NC – For generations, the United States has been considered a religious outlier — its citizens more dedicated to their faith and houses of worship than the rest of the developed world.

But new research from Duke University and University College London (UCL) suggests that American devotion to religion is waning, a decline mirrored across the Western world.

The study published in the American Journal of Sociology finds a slow, steady drop in the number of Americans who claim religious affiliations, attend church regularly and believe in God. It also finds that these drops are driven by generational differences.

“None of these declines is happening fast, but the signs are now unmistakable,” said David Voas, a social scientist with UCL and co-author of the study. “It has become clear that American religiosity has been declining for decades, and the decline is driven by the same dynamic — generational differences — that has driven religious decline across the developed world.”

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