Report finds religious change in IL


DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) People without a religious affiliation have become the second largest religiously-defined group in Illinois, according to new research.

Last week, the non-partisan and non-profit Public Religion Research Institute released the results of their 2016 American Values Atlas. They found that, in Illinois, 25 percent of people defined themselves as Catholic, while 23 percent defined themselves as religiously unaffiliated.

Nationally, researchers found 58 percent of unaffiliated people considered themselves “secular,” while 16 percent considered themselves “religious,” 14 percent considered themselves atheists and 3 percent considered themselves agnostic.

Rev. Michelle LaGrave, who leads the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Decatur said she often encounters visitors who find her congregation through online research.

I think there's a lot of curiosity,” LaGrave said. “There are a lot of young people who haven't been really raised with any kind of religion and don't really know much about it." 

Karla Thornton, who works as a Spiritual Care Minister at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur said her work involves meeting with people from diverse religious backgrounds and people with no religious backgrounds.

“Where one person might feel prayer is important, another person might need support and encouragement,” Thornton said. “We meet them where they are."

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