Americans who claim to have no religious affiliation is the highest it has ever been since data on the subject started being collected in the 1930s.
Sociologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University analyzed results from the General Social Survey and found that the number of people who do not consider themselves part of an organized religion has spiked in recent years.
Back in the 1930s and 1940s those who said they were religiously unaffiliated hovered around 5%. That number had risen to only 8% by 1990. Since then, the number of people who don't consider themselves part of a religion has increased to 20 %.
The research also found that men were more likely than women to claim they have no religion -- 24% compared to 16 % -- and that African Americans and Mexican Americans were more likely to associate themselves with a religion than whites.
The most telling numbers pertained to the breakdown of the respondents' politics: 40% of liberals claim they have no religion, compared to just 9% of conservatives.
The sociologists analyzed similar data 10 years ago and theorized that the shift away from organized religion is directly tied to politics.
They say they believe this is "a product of the involvement of the religious right in American politics and the increasing connection in Americans' minds, the minds of moderates and liberals, that religion equals conservative politics equals religion… Increasingly, people identify and link organized religion with anti-gay attitudes, sexual conservatism, a whole range of those kinds of social cultural values. One way you can think about it is, this is blowback."
The results mirror a similar study done by the Pew Research Center released in October that noted that a third of U.S. adults under the age of 30 don't identify with a religion.
In addition to finding that many Americans don't associate with a specific faith, Pew discovered that many aren't looking for one either.
The report found that, "Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics."
Personally I believe this will continue to happen in waves. As generations raised and indoctrinated on and by various religions die off I think (hope) that religious affiliations as well as racism and homophobic beliefs will dwindle. As information and education is more readily available through outlets like the internet myth, religious and fear based learning will eventually be replaced by intelligent and reasoned thought.