■  A new analysis of survey data suggests that the growth of the non-affiliated or “nones” may be slowing down. In his newsletter Graphs about Religion (May 20), Ryan Burge reports finding a fairly consistent slowdown in the percentage of Americans who claim no religion, based on data from Pew, the General Social Survey (GSS), and the Cooperative Election Study (CES). Pew’s most recent published data showed 28 percent of Americans claiming no religious affiliation in 2023, a slight dip from the previous year, while the CES data, the latest of which was released in May, showed that from 2020 to 2023, the percentage of nones was relatively stable. In 2020, the CES found that 34 percent of those surveyed were nones, while in 2021 and 2023, that percentage was 36 percent, and in 2022, 35 percent. [The CES has consistently found higher percentages of nones than the GSS and Pew.] Burge writes that, from a “pure statistical standpoint, I don’t know if we can say with any certainty whether there’s a larger share of nones in the United States today than there was in 2019.” But he writes that, although most of the Americans who wanted to give up on identifying with a religion have already done so, future proportional growth in this population will likely come from the older, more religious Americans being replaced by less religious younger Americans. The slowdown in non-affiliation may mean that the U.S. will end up in the future with large numbers of religious people and nonreligious people alike, with neither group making up a large majority. Such a standoff could intensify polarization and have negative consequences for a democratic system that needs cooperation and compromise.

Among Fortune 500 companies, those including religion in their diversity programs now make up a strong majority, representing 85 percent of such firms, according to a study by the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF). This is more than twice the number that did so in 2022, and 62 of these companies, or 12.4 percent, now showcase faith-based employee business resource groups, up from 7.4 percent in 2022. Every year the RFBF surveys companies on their faith-based practices and policies [see Vol. 38, No. 6 issue of RW for a report on last year’s RFBF conference]. Brian Grim, head of the foundation, said that these numbers represent a “tipping point” in the number of companies embracing religion as a core component of diversity. He added that this year companies were especially attentive to how people of faith responded to global news, including the Israel-Hamas war. This year, Accenture and American Airlines were tied as the most faith-friendly Fortune 500 companies, both earning perfect scores on the index, which assessed over 30 faith-friendly companies via an opt-in survey. The survey evaluated companies in 11 categories, including their religious accommodations, spiritual care/chaplaincy services, and procedures for reporting discrimination.

Source: Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (

(For the RFBF report visit:

Congregational growth in the conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) is occurring more among more liturgical and confessional churches than larger seeker-sensitive and contemporary worship congregations, according to a survey reported in the Lutheran liturgical journal, Gottesdienst (May 7). The journal cites the recent Lutheran Religious Life Survey, which was conducted in 2023, focusing on congregational growth trajectories and personal conversion histories. The survey found that LCMS members, especially in larger churches, dramatically overestimate the health of their congregations, being three times likelier to report growth as compared to attendance data and 70 percent less likely to report decline.
But those congregations identifying as more liturgical and “confessional,” which means adhering to the historic Lutheran confessions, receive more converts, are experiencing less serious decline in attendance and membership, and may have younger membership profiles. Contrary to previous church growth research, “missional” and contemporary churches and services were found to receive less converts than the more conservative doctrinal and liturgical churches. Smaller LCMS churches in rural areas or small towns received higher rates of converts than larger urban or suburban congregations. Exposure to LCMS parochial schools was found to be a “major factor shaping conversion: many people become LCMS due to their experience in [these] schools, and LCMS children enrolled in LCMS schools may have higher rates of remaining” in the denomination, writes John Bussman. He adds that the synod still invests most of its church growth energies toward missional and contemporary church expressions.

Source: Lutheran Religious Life Survey (


A new study finds that the Catholic Church and the papacy, though highly centralized, are still responsive to members’ political views and preferences, and that this tends to strengthen the faithful’s trust in the institution. The study, by political scientist Jeffrey Ziegler of Trinity College (Dublin) and published in the journal Politics and Religion (online in May), was based on an analysis of over 10,000 papal statements and survey experiments conducted in Brazil and Mexico to investigate how Catholics’ trust and participation are affected by the church’s responsiveness to their concerns. Ziegler analyzed 10,445 papal documents from 1995 to 2014, most of which were publicized in the media, comparing them to survey data on Catholic public opinion. He found that when a greater proportion of Catholics became concerned about a given issue, papal rhetoric devoted to the same issue also increased.

In the survey experiments, Catholic respondents in Brazil and Mexico were asked to react to news headlines regarding socio-political topics addressed by the pope. Zieger found that among respondents who were more likely to expect responsiveness, papal messages reflecting their concerns tended to increase their organizational participation and enhance their perception of the church’s responsiveness. Unexpectedly, Ziegler found that Catholics who were less active did not view the church as any more responsive when they received papal rhetoric that was responsive to their views. In fact, they were less likely after receiving these messages to trust, attend, give, and volunteer in the church. Ziegler concludes that although there are few mechanisms for members to hold a centralized organization like the Catholic Church accountable, because its unelected leaders still have to rely on the members’ support and material resources, they are incentivized to be responsive to their political preferences.

(Politics and Religion,

A recent survey finds that the proportion of non-believers in Poland has risen to its highest-ever level of almost 14 percent, while the percentage who attend mass each Sunday has dropped to an all-time low of 34 percent. According to Notes from Poland (May 23), the survey was conducted from January to April and released on May 21 by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS), a leading public opinion research institute in Poland. The last Polish census, conducted in 2021, had found 71 percent of the population identifying as Roman Catholic, down from 88 percent a decade earlier. But in the recent survey, when asked about their denominational identification, nearly 89 percent of the respondents continued to describe themselves as Roman Catholics. Whatever the exact figures, Polish researchers have been reporting a weakening in religious faith in recent years, which has been attributed to factors like indifference, loss of interest, and anger over the church’s political involvement and revelations of child sexual abuse by clergy. The church’s support for an unpopular near-total abortion ban and its close ties to the previous conservative government have also contributed to the decline.


The proportion of Catholics who attend Sunday mass regularly has fallen from about 58 percent before 2005 to 39 percent in 2024. The trend of declining religiosity accelerated since the onset of the pandemic, with the fastest declines seen among young people and those with higher education. The Catholic Church’s own figures—released by the church’s statistics institute at the end of last year—are even lower, with Sunday mass attendance dropping from 36.9 percent in 2019 to 29.5 percent in 2022 (Notes from Poland, Dec. 19). The differences in the data from two reliable sources indicate the need for caution about using such figures as more than indicators, with both pointing, however, to the same trend. This pattern may be accompanying other signs of secularization. In May, the mayor of Warsaw banned the display of religious symbols such as crosses from city hall, making it the first city in Poland to do so (Notes from Poland, May 16). While the rules do not apply to religious symbols worn for personal use, “crosses cannot be hung on walls, something that is common in state offices in Poland. Staff also cannot display religious symbols on their desks.”

(Notes from Poland,; CBOS website,