July-August 2015 – Barna has become the Christian authority on understanding the demographics of atheists and agnostics in America. In its most recent study, Barna revealed five new demographics for skeptics, its collective term for referring to atheists and agnostics.
▶ They are younger. Thirty years ago, 18% of skeptics were under 30. Today that percentage has almost doubled to 34%. As a whole, Barna said skeptics make up 23% of the U.S. population.
▶ They are more educated. Half of the demographic has a college degree today, as opposed to 20 years ago when only a third were college graduates.
▶ Women make up a larger portion of skeptics than in the past. In 1993, only 16% of skeptics were women. In 2013, that figure grew to 43%. The number of male skeptics has risen as well, but not as fast as women.
▶ They are racially diverse. White Americans represented 80% of skeptics 20 years ago. That statistic has declined to 74% and reflects the increase in Hispanic and Asian adults in the group.
▶ They are regionally dispersed. Past decades saw a concentration of skeptics in the Northeast and West. But atheism and agnosticism has spread nationwide.
Barna also notes skeptics draw their conclusions based on three primary components: rejection of the Bible, lack of trust in the local church, and cultural reinforcement of a secular worldview.