Study: Americans Less Religious Than Ever Before

South and Midwest are more religious than coasts.

A family's Bible, significantly older than this one, was recovered after being stolen in a December 2011 burglary.
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Americans are the least religious they've ever been, with one in five Americans declaring no religious preference, according to a new survey released Tuesday.

The percentage of Americans who declared "no religious preference" on the 2012 General Social Survey, a large-scale national survey, was more than twice the percentage of Americans who declared no religion in 1990, and four times higher than the percentage in 1972, the first year the survey was taken.

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Though 20 percent of Americans declared "no religious preference," just 3 percent of respondents said they were "atheists."

"This continues a trend of Americans disavowing a specific religious affiliation that has accelerated greatly since 1990," Mike Hout, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement.

Forty percent of self-declared liberals said they didn't have a religious preference, compared to 9 percent of conservatives. A third of 18-24-year-olds claimed no religion, compared to just 7 percent of people 75 and older. People who live on the West Coast and in the Northeast were most likely to declare no religion, Midwesterners and Southerners are the most religious.

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