Poll: Church membership in US plummets over past 20 years

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NEW YORK (AP) — The percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has plunged by 20 percentage points over the past two decades, hitting a low of 50% last year. That’s according to a new Gallup poll released Thursday.

The biggest drops were recorded among Democrats and Hispanics among major demographic groups.

Gallup said church membership was 70% in 1999. The figure has fallen steadily since then, while the percentage of U.S. adults with no religious affiliation jumped from 8% to 19%.

Among Americans identifying with a particular religion, there was a sharp drop in church membership among Catholics — dropping from 76% to 63% over the past two decades as the church was buffeted by clergy sex-abuse scandals. Membership among Protestants dropped from 73% to 67% percent.

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