NEW YORK (AP) - The percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has plunged by 20 percentage points over the past two decades, hitting a low of 50% last year. That's according to a new Gallup poll released Thursday.
The biggest drops were recorded among Democrats and Hispanics among major demographic groups.
Gallup said church membership was 70% in 1999. The figure has fallen steadily since then, while the percentage of U.S. adults with no religious affiliation jumped from 8% to 19%.
Among Americans identifying with a particular religion, there was a sharp drop in church membership among Catholics - dropping from 76% to 63% over the past two decades as the church was buffeted by clergy sex-abuse scandals. Membership among Protestants dropped from 73% to 67% percent.