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State of belief

A new survey of US adults has found that the percentages who say they believe in God, pray daily and regularly go to church or other religious services have declined modestly in recent years.

But the Pew Research Center also found considerable stability in the religious landscape. While more Americans say they do not belong to any organized faith, there has been no discernible drop in most measures of religious commitment by those who are religious.

The share of adults who say they believe in God has declined from approximately 92 per cent to 89 per cent since 2007. A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, a group which now accounts for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007. 'Religious "nones" are not only growing as a share of the U.S. population, but they are becoming more secular over time by a variety of measures', says the study.

Interestingly, some figures have changed very little. 72 per cent of Americans still say they believe in heaven (defined as a place 'where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded'). 58 per cent also believe in hell (a place 'where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished').