Christianity in America is declining at a "rapid pace," according to startling new analysis from The Pew Research Center.
The report found that the majority of Americans — 65 percent — still describe themselves as Christians, though the proportion has significantly fallen by 12 percentage points over the past decade.
At the same time, 26 percent of Americans now call themselves atheists, agnostics or no religion in particular (a collective group known as the "nones"), up 9 percentage points since 2009.
It's important to note that atheists, agnostics and unaffiliated Americans are generally lumped into the "nones" category, but the largest cohort under this umbrella are people who have simply said they are "nothing in particular."While atheists account for just 4 percent of all Americans, their representation is also up significantly from 2 percent in 2009.
This latter group is up from 12 percent in 2009 to 17 percent in the latest Pew report.
One of the report's most telling findings is a massive generation gap on the religious allegiance front — one that is intensifying.
While 84 percent of respondents in the Silent Generation (aged 74 to 91) and 76 percent of Baby Boomers (aged 55 to 71) are Christians, just 49 percent of Millennials (aged 23 to 38) agree.
But it's not only self-described affiliation that is changing.
Church attendance is also on the decline, with more Americans (54 percent) now saying they attend religious services only a few times each year or less; 45 percent said they attend at least monthly.
This data is sure to ignite further discussion about the future of faith in America. One additional point worth noting is that self-described allegiance to faith and actually living out faith can, in practice, be very different dynamics.
This is an issue that is certain to get more attention in the coming years as cultural transformation forges on.
The latest Pew report is based on 88 surveys of 168,890 American adults over the past decade. Read the report in its entirety here.