Monday, August 26th, 2019

The Long, Slow Death of Religion

Published on January 7, 2017 by   ·   No Comments

Photo by Dalibor Tomic | CC BY 2.0

 Counterpunch 

By now, it’s clear that religion is fading in America, as it has done in most advanced Western democracies.

Dozens of surveys find identical evidence: Fewer American adults, especially those under 30, attend church — or even belong to a church.  They tell interviewers their religion is “none.” They ignore faith.

Since 1990, the “nones” have exploded rapidly as a sociological phenomenon — from 10 percent of U.S. adults, to 15 percent, to 20 percent. Now they’ve climbed to 25 percent, according to a 2016 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.

That makes them the nation’s largest faith category, outstripping Catholics (21 percent) and white evangelicals (16 percent).  They seem on a trajectory to become an outright majority.   America is following the secular path of Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and other modern places.  The Secular Age is snowballing.

Various explanations for the social transformation are postulated:  That the Internet exposes young people to a wide array of ideas and practices that undercut old-time beliefs.  That family breakdown severs traditional participation in congregations.  That the young have grown cynical about authority of all types.  That fundamentalist hostility to gays and abortion has soured tolerant-minded Americans.  That clergy child-molesting scandals have scuttled church claims to moral superiority. That faith-based suicide bombings and other religious murders horrify normal folks.

All those factors undoubtedly play a role.  But I want to offer a simpler explanation:  In the scientific 21st century, it’s less plausible to believe in invisible gods, devils, heavens, hells, angels, demons — plus virgin births, resurrections, miracles, messiahs, prophecies, faith-healings, visions, incarnations, divine visitations and other supernatural claims.  Magical thinking is suspect, ludicrous.  It’s not for intelligent, educated people.

Significantly, the PRRI study found that the foremost reason young people gave for leaving religion is this clincher: They stopped believing miraculous church dogmas.

For decades, tall-steeple mainline Protestant denominations with university-educated ministers tried to downplay supernaturalism — to preach just the compassion of Jesus and the social gospel.  It was a noble effort, but disastrous.  The mainline collapsed so badly it is dubbed “flatline Protestantism.”  It has faded to small fringe of American life.

Now Catholicism and evangelicalism are in the same death spiral.  One-tenth of U.S. adults today are ex-Catholics.  The Southern Baptist Convention lost 200,000 members in 2014 and 200,000 more in 2015.

I’m a longtime newspaperman in Appalachia’s Bible Belt.  I’ve watched the retreat of religion for six decades.  Back in the 1950s, church-based laws were powerful:

It was a crime for stores to open on the Sabbath.  All public school classes began with mandatory prayer. It was a crime to buy a cocktail, or look at nude photos in magazines, or buy a lottery ticket.  It was a crime for an unwed couple to share a bedroom.  If a single girl became pregnant, both she and her family were disgraced.  Birth control was unmentionable. Evolution was unmentionable.

Read More HERE

Share the Truth:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Global Grind
  • MySpace
  • Ping.fm
  • Tumblr
  • email

Readers Comments (0)




Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Daily News and Blogs

Listen to the TIS Network on blogtalkradio.com

Check Out Pop Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with TIS Network on BlogTalkRadio

Like us on Facebook

Advertise Here

Advertise Here