The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).
This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.
I'm not surprised by these numbers, and believe they are lower than they should be. All one has to do is examine church attendance statistics to see that people are bailing, even if they are nominally members of some religious organization. The general irrelevance of organized religion is rising fast.
that the more people who are willing to stand up and proclaim a view that is not the norm, they more people who are leaning that way will be also willing to stand up. Although proclaimed atheists and agnostics are still in the minority, the more people who are unashamed to admit it, the more people who are "closet" non-believers have the nerve to voice doubt. This happens with any views you want to discuss, from religion to anti-war sentiment to gay marriage.
And as to the discussion at hand---religion---I don't doubt that the "true fundie believers" are scaring the shit out of a lot of people who are on the fence.