The share of Americans who claim no particular religion doubled from 7% to 14% in the 1990s, as sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fischer reported in an influential 2002 article based on the General Social Survey. A decade later, the Pew Research Center found that one-in-five U.S. adults (and fully a third of those ages 18-30) have no religious affiliation. Despite the rapid growth of the unaffiliated, Gallup editor Frank Newport cited survey data in a recent book to explain why he thinks “God is alive and well” in the United States. These findings raise many questions, including: What are the reasons for the rise of the religiously unaffiliated? Can organized religion thrive in the United States if growing numbers claim no religion? Is America, as a whole, becoming less religious or more religious? And how different, religiously, is the millennial generation from baby boomers and other recent generations?

On Aug. 8, 2013, the Pew Research Center brought together some of the leading experts in survey research on religion in the U.S. for a round-table discussion with journalists, scholars and other stakeholders on the rise of the religious “nones” and other important trends in American religion. The edited transcript is below.

Claude Fischer, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Michael Hout, Professor of Sociology, New York University
Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief, Gallup
Greg Smith, Director of U.S. Religion Surveys, Pew Research Center, Religion & Public Life Project

Alan Cooperman, Deputy Director, Pew Research Center, Religion & Public Life Project

Audio and Slides:
You can find a recording of the event as well as all the slides on Audio and Slides: Religion Trends in the U.S..

Read the transcript of this event.