The number of Americans who believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ has increased in the last decade, but a smaller percentage belong to organized churches, according to a new Gallup Poll.
"The churches of America have made no headway in narrowing the gap between religious belief and church involvement, between believers and belongers," said the polling organization's co-chairman, George Gallup, in previewing the survey results Thursday.The nationwide survey, called "The Unchurched American," found that 84 percent of those surveyed believe Christ is either God or the son of God, compared with 78 percent in a similar 1978 Gallup Poll. The number of survey respondents declaring they were "committed to Jesus Christ" increased from 60 percent to 66 percent.
Forty-four percent of respondents were classified as "unchurched" because they have not attended regular services in six months, compared with 40 percent of those polled a decade ago.
The survey projects that 61 million American adults did not belong to any church in 1978, with the number increasing to 78 million today.
While churchgoers tend to have stronger beliefs than those who do not attend, the survey found considerable "faith" among the unchurched, Gallup said at a news conference.
The poll showed that 72 percent of those who do not attend church believe in Christ, 77 percent believe in God, 63 percent believe the Bible is inspired, 58 percent believe in an afterlife and 25 percent say they have had a "religious experience."