For the first time, a majority of Americans—56 percent—say it is possible to be a good person without religious belief. And about half of all U.S. Catholics agree.
The majority of Americans now believe that “God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality,” said Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director of research, in a post about the findings. “[T]he public’s increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious ‘nones,’” he explained.
The majority of Americans now believe that “God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality.”
“In the 2011 Pew Research Center survey that included the question about God and morality, religious “nones” constituted 18 percent of the sample. By 2017, the share of ‘nones’ stood at 25 percent,” the report notes.
But even some believers have changed their opinions on the matter during the past few years. According to the report, among white evangelical Protestants, 32 percent now say belief in God is not necessary to have good values and be a moral person, up from 26 percent who said this in 2011.
About half of all U.S. Catholics—or 49 percent—agree that it is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. But there is a sharp difference between Hispanic Catholics and white Catholics. Fifty-seven percent of white Catholics say God is not necessary for morality, but just 38 percent of Hispanic Catholics agree.
Material from Religion News Service was used in this report.