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Watching Religion Die in America

by James A. Haught

Religion is fading more quickly in the United States than in any other nation, according to a forthcoming research book.

Religion’s Sudden Decline: What’s Causing It and What Comes Nextby University of Michigan scholar Ronald Inglehart, is to be released in January by Oxford University Press.  Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine – in an advance summary titled “Giving Up on God: The Global Decline of Religion” – Dr. Inglehart said:

“The most dramatic shift away from religion has taken place among the American public.  From 1981 to 2007, the United States ranked as one of the world’s more religious countries, with religiosity levels changing very little.  Since then, the United States has shown the largest move away from religion of any country for which we have data.”

A profound cultural transformation is in progress – mostly happening quietly out of sight, little-noticed in daily life.  Old supernatural beliefs are vanishing among intelligent, educated, science-minded western people, especially the young.  Religion is shriveling into the realm of myth and fantasy. Here are some indicators:

Almost two-thirds of teens who grow up in a church drop out of religion in their twenties, according to both Barna and LifeWay surveys.

The number of Americans who say their religion is “none” began to explode in the 1990s – rising to one-tenth of the population, then climbing relentlessly to one-fourth.  Among those under thirty, “nones” now are 40 percent.

American church membership fell 20 percent in the past two decades, according to Gallup research.  Southern Baptists dropped two million members since 2005.

Tall-steeple Protestant “mainline” denominations have suffered worst.  United Methodists fell from 11 million in 1969 to below 7 million today – while America’s population almost doubled.  Evangelical Lutherans dropped from 5.3 million in 1987 to 3.4 million now.  The Presbyterian Church USA had 3.2 million in 1982 but now is around 1.3 million. The Episcopal Church went from 3.4 million in the 1960s to 1.7 million now.

These highbrow mainline faiths with seminary-educated ministers once drew public respect.  But religion is shifting to lowbrow, emotional worship that is less admirable.  One-fourth of the world’s Christians now “speak in tongues,” researchers say.  Christianity is moving from advanced, prosperous, northern nations to the less-developed tropics. It’s losing its status as moral leadership.

Retreat of churchgoing in America may undercut the Republican Party, which depends on white evangelicals as the heart of its base.  In contrast, godless Americans tend to be compassionate progressives who have become the largest faith segment in the Democratic Party. The loss of religion may shift national political values to the left.

Personally, I hope the Secular Age continues snowballing until supernatural religion becomes only an embarrassing fringe. After all, belief in gods, devils, heavens, 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 science-minded person can tell.  It lacks factual evidence.  The more religion declines, the more integrity is gained by society.

Come to think of it, maybe there’s a correlation:  White evangelicals swallow the falsehoods of faith – and they swallow the notorious falsehoods of President Trump.  Psychology researchers should study this gullibility pattern.

James Haught, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is editor emeritus of West Virginia’s largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail and author of 12 books. 

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  • This is a statement of atheism and, hence, evolutionism which assumes complex life forms sprung out of primordial soup of lifeless matter without any proof. Is this science? No. it is nothing more than a conjecture. What is science? It is nothing more than a process of finding the truth – but NOT the ultimate truth. It only gives you present knowledge but NOT the ultimate truth in anything. That is why it has been updated constantly as new knowledge is discovered. So, if you think science tells you the truth, this is nothing more than a belief by faith. So, is this not another form of religion? You deny that the Creator exists just because he is not visible and yet you believe in such things as invisible and undetectable dark matter and dark energy. You believe in a lot of things that are invisible because you know they exist by their effects and not because you see them. Likewise, we know Creator exists by manifestations of his intelligent design in the nature which – by no means – can come from lifeless matter that has no intelligence at all. Your assumption that intelligence can come from lifeless matter with no intelligence is completely illogical and unscientific. So who in fact is more scientific? God believing Trump supporters or atheist Biden supporters? Also, are the looting, burning, harassing and shouting F words by atheist, Marxist, anarchist Antifa, BLM and the likes the expression of compassionate progressives? Why do their behavior have so much resemblance to socialist Nazis, fascists and young people during Communist Cultural revolution in China? Is this the behavior of compassionate progressives or cruel thuggery of atheists that deny their God given human conscience?

  • Guy’s trying to be provocative to get clicks. Don’t fall for it.

    Guys like this are the most inwardly miserable people you’ll ever meet. The only thing they hate more than your happiness is that they can’t make you miserable, too. So again, laugh a douche like this off. Let ’em stew in their anxiety, fear, doubt and dread. It’s a cold, scary universe out there for (non) believers like this (yes, atheists are believers, too. Think about it).

    Meanwhile, we pity them while living happy, fulfilled lives. Drives ’em crazy (or crazier than they already are).

  • This level of arrogance is truly amazing. The Catholic Church has survived for over 2,000 years including underground when persecuted. To think that it will now disappear because polls show a 10% drop here and there is ludicrous. Apart from nurturing the faith of a billion believers, considering the vast amount of service to the world – happy that this would disappear is about the meanest thing someone can wish on the less fortunate.

  • You get it a little wrong…it’s not “religion” that is in peril, it’s society and morals that are rotting so evil gets away with things while the prostitute priests of new age morality on TV make sweet love to each other about how wonderful they are no matter the lie. Just like people in Hell did.

    Faith in Jesus, love one another = heaven
    Lying, stealing, murder, gay sex, abortion, slander, promiscuity, false gods = meet satan when you die (the god of this world, the father of lies and fake gods)
    See you on Judgement Day

  • “White evangelicals swallow the falsehoods of faith – and they swallow the notorious falsehoods of President Trump.”

    As a gay man, that is a load of bs.

  • “The more religion declines, the more integrity is gained by society”.
    Only a leftist fool could call the shit slide society is on an increase in integrity. Gay marriage, abortion, climate nonsense gender confusion etc etc. God help us with the rise of the Left.

  • Great article

    I agree wholeheartedly, Evangelicals are used to swallow comforting lies from their religion, so they do the same with Trump

    However there’s a nasty side to it: Republicans might have thought they were fooling Evangelicals to believe they were the religious ones while they are there only for money and power. But now Evangelicals became too important for Republicans so they have to give power to religious extremists in order to keep their votes

  • If you think about David, Constantine , Mohammed , they all spread the word by using the sword. Fear was instrumental in spreading religion.
    Those of us living in the Secular Age don’t have that fea . We have science and fact and education. It may take years to eliminate religion’s influence, but it will happen.

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