Pew Research’s projections for 2050 see greater religious diversity in the United States.
They anticipate Christians falling from 78.3% of the US population to 66.4%, though due to population growth the total number of American Christians will be larger in 2050.
By mid-century Muslim Americans will increase from 0.9% to 2.1% of the population, and globally Muslims will grow faster than any other group due to high birth rates in predominantly Muslim countries.
In contrast, the unaffiliated will decrease as a percentage of the world population because birthrates in developed nations are low.
The US is an outlier, however. The unaffiliated will increase from 16.4% to 25.6% of all Americans by mid-century.
The global trend of high birthrates in the most religious countries and low birthrates in the most secular countries is interesting. Does increased secularism cause low birthrates? Do low birthrates cause secularism? Or is there a third factor(s) causing low birthrates and secularism to coincide?
I’m guessing there’s a third factor. And it’s likely increased economic independence decreasing people’s reliance on each other.
The unaffiliated, however, are a large group that includes not only atheists and agnostics but also the spiritual but not religious. And the latter accounts for most of the unaffiliated.
It’s time for Pew to count disbelievers and spiritual but not religious separately. This would help us better understand trends because an increase in unaffiliated Americans doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in American atheism.