We are losing our religion.
That, with apologies to R.E.M., is the startling conclusion of a new study, the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by researchers at Trinity College of Hartford, Conn. The poll of over 54,000 American adults found a sharp erosion in the number of people claiming religious affiliation.
A few highlights: The number of people who call themselves Christian is 76 percent, down 10 percentage points since 1990.
Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious ceremony.
Better than one in four Americans do not expect a religious funeral.
It is important to reiterate that we are talking about overall percentages. In raw numbers, there are actually about 22 million more Christians now than in 1990. Still, the trend is clear, particularly as illustrated in one telling statistic: In 1990, 8.2 percent (about 14 million) of us said ''none'' when asked to specify their religion. Last year, 15 percent (34 million) did.
Some have suggested our loss of faith is due to increased diversity, mobility and immigration. I'm sure there's something to that, but I tend to think the most important cause is simpler: Religion has become an ugly thing.