Source: The Houston Chronicle
On April 13, 2002, The Houston Chronicle reported that, according to two recent studies, "the number of people who say they don't belong to a religion has doubled over the last decade... For personal reasons, 29.4 million people said last year that they skip church, mosque and synagogue - up from 14.3 million in 1990, a rise from 8 percent to 14 percent of the U.S. population... That's the word from the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted in 2001... by the Graduate Center of City University of New York... Egon Mayer, a sociologist and the survey's lead author... does not believe it's accurate to say these figures show that atheism is on the rise... There's a difference between not believing in God and not belonging to a religion. Indeed, in the most recent Gallup survey on the subject, last year, 90 percent of Americans said they believed in God... Mayer guessed that the surge in people unaffiliated with religion might have to do with greater tolerance for diversity in society today... The greater influx of immigrants has also exposed Americans to different religions, he said, other ways of contemplating spirituality... This free and heterogeneous atmosphere may make it easier for people to declare they aren't tied to any single religious group, Mayer said."