Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2013 / 16:34 pm
An increase in the number of religiously unaffiliated in the U.S. does not necessarily mean that the country is growing significantly more secular, said experts at a recent panel.
Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, explained during a panel discussion held by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., that the data indicates the rise in self-described "nones" is simply the "already unreligious who are just changing the way they label themselves."
Claude Fischer, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, added that despite these changes, "Americans have long been, and still remain, the most religious people among the peoples of the Western nations, both in faith and in practice."
Also speaking at the Aug. 8 panel event were Michael Hout, sociology professor at New York University, and Greg Smith, director of U.S. Religion Surveys for Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project.