Atheists and agnostics in the United States and many countries around the world are far more likely than religious individuals to identify with the political left, according to a new Pew Research Center report.
The Pew Fact Tank report, released Sept. 28 and based on Pew’s most recent Global Attitudes Survey, found that atheists, agnostics and those unaffiliated with religion are more likely to identify with the political/ideological left in 11 countries, including the United States.
In some countries, such as Spain, the U.S. and Canada, the differences are significant. In the U.S., 50 percent of this group – which Pew calls the religiously unaffiliated – identify with the ideological left, compared to 24 percent of the religiously affiliated who do so, for a difference of 26 percent. In Canada, 39 percent of the religiously unaffiliated but only 13 percent of the affiliated identify with the left (a 26 percent difference), while in Spain, 47 percent of the unaffiliated but only 19 percent of the affiliated identify with the left (a 28 percent difference).
“Religiously unaffiliated” individuals in multiple countries, Pew said, are “more likely to identify with the political left than are adults who identify with a religion.”
Pew also found double-digit differences on the issue in France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Germany and Sweden, with smaller differences in the Netherlands and South Korea.
The U.S. (50 percent), Spain (47 percent) and Canada (39 percent) have the highest percentage of religiously unaffiliated individuals who identify with the political left.
Meanwhile, the global share of the politically unaffiliated is predicted by Pew to decline in the next few decades, even though their total number is slowly increasing.
“The absolute number of religious ‘nones’ worldwide is expected to increase slightly from 1.17 billion in 2015 to 1.2 billion in 2060, according to Pew Research Center projections,” a Pew analysis said. “However, since other religious groups are projected to grow much faster, the global share of religiously unaffiliated people is expected to fall from 16% to 13% of the global population over the same time period.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/J.S. Winborne
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.