FORT MYERS, Fla. - According to a recent survey by the Pew Center for the People and the Press, 19% of all Americans surveyed check the "none" box for their religious affiliation. Nearly one in five Americans are atheists, agnostics or say they believe "nothing in particular." That's the highest ever documented.
"I think they don't want to be religious. I don't want to be religious, but I want to have a relationship with God," said Gary Cox, Senior Pastor for First Christian Church.
"If you put your faith in religious organizations, you'll be failed. If you put your faith in God, that's very different," said Sunday School teacher, Denise Holbrook.
The pastor thinks the survey represents people who are disappointed in people. Not in God.
"Religion has a tendency to be man-man rules, man-made regulations. Far from what God ever wanted," Cox said.
He says people are still looking for something to believe in saying, "The number of people seeking God it not down."
The Catholic, Southern Baptist, Methodist and Lutheran churches all show membership flat or inching downward, according to the 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.
"While there are churches that die, every week there are a lot of new churches being started and a lot of churches that are healthy," Cox stated.
The study attributes the change to many Americans who leave religious groups after becoming independent adults.
"I think people become disillusioned with people who call themselves Christians or other religions and don't really act it out," said church goer Chuck Stroub.
19% is based on nearly 20,000 people surveyed throughout 2011. In 1990, the same survey reported only 6% of US adults were without a religious affiliation.