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Pew report: Nones could be majority in 50 years

By 2070, the religiously unaffiliated (“Nones”) could make up half the population in the United States, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

And it’s possible, if not likely, that Christians could make up less than half of the population — and as little as a third — in 50 years. Also, the percentage of Americans who identify as Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and followers of other non-Christian faiths could double.

The Pew researchers projected possible religious futures for the United States using a number of factors, including birthrates, migration patterns, demographics, including age and sex, and the current religious landscape. They also looked at how religion is passed from one generation to another and how often people switch religions — in particular, Christians who become Nones, a number that has been increasing in recent years.

One reason for the decline in the proportion of Christians and the growth among the Nones in the models is age. While Christians have more children than Nones, they also skew older. 

“The unaffiliated are having and raising unaffiliated children while Christians are more likely to be near the end of their lives than others,” Stephanie Kramer, a senior researcher at Pew, wrote to the Religion News Service.

In the report, researchers note that “there is no data on which to model a sudden or gradual revival of Christianity (or of religion in general) in the U.S.”

“That does not mean a religious revival is impossible,” they wrote. “It means there is no demographic basis on which to project one.”