Most people in the US now accept individuals can have morality without religion as, for the first time, a majority of Americans – 56 per cent – say it is possible to be a good person without believing in God.
This is according to new Pew Research Center data drawn from two polls conducted among some 5,000 American adults in June and July.
'God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality,' said Greg Smith, Pew's associate director of research. '[T]he public's increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious "nones"'.
Those 'Nones' now account for just less than a quarter – 23 per cent – of American adults, up from 16 per cent in 2007.
Meanwhile, in the new poll, 45 per cent of Protestants and Catholics agree that God is not necessary for personal morality, up from 42 per cent in 2011.
And even white evangelicals have shifted. In 2011, one quarter of them (26 per cent) said it was possible to have morality without religion. Now, almost a third (32 per cent) say so.
'To be sure, most white evangelicals still say belief in God is necessary for morality,' said Smith 'But the share who say belief in God is a necessary underpinning of being moral has declined from 72 per cent to 65 per cent in just six years.'