Ryan Cragun, a sociologist of religion, is skeptical:
Still, Cragun does not believe the poll shows more people are becoming atheists, but rather that more people are willing to identify as atheists.
“For a very long time, religiosity has been a central characteristic of the American identity,” he said. “But what this suggests is that is changing and people are feeling less inclined to identify as religious to comply with what it means to be a good person in the U.S.”
The Sojourners article suggests other valid reasons to be skeptical of the results, but Cragun’s rationale seems out of touch with reality. The sort of person who thinks of herself as “a convinced atheist” has always put principle before pragmatism and wouldn’t think of espousing in public beliefs that she privately reviles.
The study shows undeniably, though, that the religious landscape of our culture is changing.