By James A. Haught
Religion is waning faster in the United States than in any other nation, according to an upcoming research book.
Religion’s Sudden Decline: What Causes It, and What’s Next?University of Michigan scientist Ronald Inglehart is published by Oxford University Press in January. Write in Foreign Affairs Magazine – in a preliminary summary with the title “Forsake God: The Global Decline of Religion”- Dr. Inglehart said:
“The most dramatic departure from religion has occurred in the American public. From 1981 to 2007, the United States was one of the more religious countries in the world, with little change in religiosity. Since then, the United States has shown the greatest turn away from the religion of any country for which we have data. ”
A profound cultural change is underway – mostly it happens quietly out of sight and is hardly noticed in daily life. Old supernatural beliefs are disappearing among intelligent, educated, science-minded Western people, especially young people. Religion shrinks into the realm of myth and fantasy. Here are some indicators:
According to surveys by Barna and LifeWay, nearly two-thirds of teenagers growing up in church drop out in their twenties.
The number of Americans who say their religion is “none” began to explode in the 1990s – it rose to a tenth of the population and then rose relentlessly to a quarter. Forty percent of those under 30 are “none”.
According to Gallup research, the membership of the American Church has declined 20 percent over the past two decades. Southern Baptists has lost two million members since 2005.
Protestant denominations with high steeples have suffered the worst. United Methodists fell from 11 million in 1969 to below 7 million today – while the American population nearly doubled. Protestant Lutherans fell from 5.3 million in 1987 to 3.4 million. The Presbyterian Church USA had 3.2 million in 1982; today there are around 1.3 million. The episcopal church rose from 3.4 million in the 1960s to 1.7 million now.
These high-profile core beliefs with ministers with seminar training once found public respect. But religion is shifting to simple, less admirable, emotional worship. A quarter of the world’s Christians “now speak in tongues,” researchers say. Christianity is moving from advanced, wealthy northern nations to the less developed tropics. It goes from respected to pathetic.
The retreat from church attendance in America could undermine the Republican Party, which depends on white evangelicals as the core of its base. In contrast, wicked Americans are more likely to be compassionate progressives who have become the largest segment of faith in the Democratic Party. The loss of religion can shift national political values to the left.
Personally, I hope the secular age will continue to snowball until the supernatural religion just becomes an embarrassing fringe. After all, belief in gods, devils, heaven, hells, miracles, visions, prophecies and the rest of dogma is extremely questionable. It’s all a fantasy, a bunch of falsehoods, as far as any scientifically minded person can tell. There is a lack of factual evidence. The more the religion declines, the more integrity society gains.
If you think about it, there might be a connection: white evangelicals swallow the falsehoods of faith – and they swallow the infamous falsehoods of President Trump. Psychology researchers should examine this pattern of gullibility.
(Haught is retired editor of West Virginia’s largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette Mailand a senior editor of Free request Magazine. He has written 12 books and 150 magazine articles. As a blogger on a dozen websites, he has 1,200 essays online.)
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