James A. Haught writes an excellent and compelling article chronicling “The Long, Slow Death of Religion” in America. The institution is already on death’s door in most of the West and today Christianity is fading fast in the U.S.A. I also observed this phenomenon more than four years ago in my blog post: “The Power of None.”
It’s a fact. The “Nones” are coming, I said. They are growing in numbers. Their power is on the rise. They are poised now as a political force to be reckoned with -- people with no religion at all -- the fastest growing philosophically oriented group in America. According to a Pew survey one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion. They ignore faith.
In 1990 the number was just 10%. Four years ago that number had doubled to 20% of the entire American population and, as I observed then, that percentage was growing by leaps and bounds. Now Mr. Haught explains that the number has ballooned to 25%. Yes, now the nation’s largest faith category is no faith at all. Dozens of surveys find identical evidence: Fewer American adults, especially those under 30, attend church — or even belong to a church.
The Internet has surely taken its heavy toll. More people today are exposed to a much wider array of rational cultural ideas and practices that undermine old-time beliefs. People are far more cynical today about traditional forms of authority. Young people simply no longer tolerate irrational hostility toward gays, transsexuals and women seeking abortions. The clergy child molestation scandals have shattered religion’s claims to moral superiority. Radical Islamic terrorism in all its irrational forms horrifies normal folks.
Haught brings up an even simpler explanation: In the world of today it is far less plausible to believe in invisible gods, devils, heavens, hells, angels, demons, 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. People have stopped believing miraculous church dogmas. It’s dishonest.
I remember well the power of religious based laws while growing up in 1950’s America. Few if any businesses were open on Sundays. Prayer was mandated in the public schools. Liquor could not be purchased on the Sabbath. Looking at nude pictures of girls in magazines or writing about sex was against the law. Being gay was a serious crime. Sharing a hotel room with your girlfriend was a crime. Birth control was a crime. Teenaged girls who got knocked up were disgraced along with their entire families. Evolution was not taught in public school.
Think of it. That’s all gone now.
We’re having none of it.