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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Decline of Christianity in the US

Posted by on Tue, Oct 9, 2012 at 9:04 AM

It's real, it's happening...

One-fifth of U.S. adults say they are not part of a traditional religious denomination, new data from the Pew Research Center show, evidence of an unprecedented reshuffling of Americans’ spiritual identities that is shaking up fields from charity to politics.

But despite their nickname, the “nones” are far from godless. Many pray, believe in God and have regular spiritual routines. Their numbers have increased dramatically over the past two decades, according to the study released Tuesday. About 19.6 percent of Americans say they are “nothing in particular,” agnostic or atheist, up from about 8 percent in 1990.

In away, the GOP is right to worry about Obama and his social agenda. Things like universal healthcare will make more Americans existentially secure. And the more existential security there is in America, the weaker American Christianity becomes. And a decline in the number of American Christians will hurt the GOP. The graph says it all.


Comments (26) RSS

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Urgutha Forka 1
Couldn't have happened to a nicer religion
Posted by Urgutha Forka on October 9, 2012 at 9:23 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 2
Obama gave us universal health care? I thought it was a mandate to buy corporate health insurance without a public option?

Oh, and expect the Christo-Freaks who are left will start to become more violent as they lose control.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM · Report this
When Christianity declines, evangelism steps up. That is why Mars Hill is so huge and getting bigger. It has no doubt increased the amount of christians in Seattle.
Posted by jeffy on October 9, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
long-time reader 4
I always wonder about the accuracy of self-reporting in surveys, especially when it's a topic that carries some possible stigma. How many people just give the answers they think the surveyor wants or expects to hear?
Posted by long-time reader on October 9, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 5
God is real. Religion is bullshit. The two have nothing to do with each other. That is all.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on October 9, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Hernandez 6
@3 I don't think it's increased the number of Christians so much as shifted them around. Mainline Protestant church attendance is dwindling across the board, congregations are aging and fewer young families are joining up. At the same time, as you point out, Mars Hill is growing rapidly.

And this is not a good thing. Mainline Protestant churches typically have a strong focus on charity, helping the community, and progressive values. Mars Hill is run by misogynist conservative greedheads.
Posted by Hernandez on October 9, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
I think the Christofascists realize this and that is why they are lashing out. They have a reason to be scared - if no one listens to their BS then who will give them those big donations? Their only other job option is Sales and that pays crap.
Posted by Schweighsr on October 9, 2012 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Barack Obama prays.

Posted by Allahu al-Akbar on October 9, 2012 at 10:31 AM · Report this
Actually; according to surveys, Atheists are more 'religious' than Jews; more likely to pray, to believe in miracles, to believe in 'god'.
Posted by America's #2 Religion on October 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 10
The general arc of humanity is away from dark superstition, away from untenable and destructive belief structures.

This was bound to happen eventually.

Funny though how no one considers persecution based upon a lack of belief, and yet you can not hold public office at the federal level unless you profess belief in one of the socially acceptable, magical and invisible sky-daddies. Weird country we live in.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on October 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM · Report this
lark 11
Good Morning Charles,
I read that piece this morning but didn't see the graph. I'm not at all surprised by the decline. @6 is correct mainline Protestant Churches are really in decline. As noted, there are no Protestant members on the US Supreme Court. We now have a Muslim & least one atheist in Congress. And, a Mormon (LDS) is running for President. Seattle's Town Hall & a building on 50th & 16th (formerly a Christian Science?) near UW's Fraternity Row were churches. They are among many across the USA. In the UK it, the decline is even worse from what I've read.

I don't know if this is a good thing, this decline in mainline Protestant Christianity in the USA. They did some fine work (started universities, hospitals etc.) for this country and should be recognized.

As for me, I have no problem with religion. I dislike reactionary religions or beliefs. That includes political beliefs.
Posted by lark on October 9, 2012 at 10:54 AM · Report this
Hmmmm... the problem is, like any time you distill something noxious, it becomes concentrated and more poisonous.

Sure there may be fewer believers. But the ones left are more powerful and even crazier.

Posted by tkc on October 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM · Report this
But most of these "nonbelievers" believe in god(s) and/or spirits. Do we know how many of them believe the sun revolves around the earth, or that the earth is recently created, or that magical forces will prevent the climate from overheating ... or that the world's about to come to an abrupt end pretty darned soon anyhow, so why take care of it?

Mudede is proficient at making megatrends out of molehills, and then extrapolating bigger consequences from those.

Stylistically, he's a lot like Newt Gingrich.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on October 9, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Roscoe 14
If only Stupidity were declining as rapidly as Christianity -- then the GOP would really have cause for concern. As it is, there will always be a GOP well-stocked with morons.
Posted by Roscoe on October 9, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
I think the trend here is the steady erosion of the American mono-culture. A shared faith is part of that mono-culture.
Posted by Charlie Mas on October 9, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Report this
This is of course predicted in the Bible which says that there will be a huge falling away from the Christian faith, not in isolation but in concert with an astounding and simultaneous rise in both atheism and homosexuality. It's amusing to read atheists as they denigrate and mock the Bible even while they fulfill Its prophecy.
Posted by thesauros on October 9, 2012 at 12:08 PM · Report this
OuterCow 17
@5 I really wish you'd have the courtesy to explain WHY it is you think that of these days, 5280. If there is a god, I would like to know that. And if you actually have a good reason for thinking that god is real, I'd like to know that too, as it would be first good reason I've ever heard, if you're correct.
Posted by OuterCow on October 9, 2012 at 12:11 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 18
What surveys?

Also, someone who calls themselves 'atheist' yet still believes in god isn't really an atheist.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on October 9, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this

That's the stupidest piece of drivel I've heard all day.


Every generation of believers have been convinced that such-and-such Biblical prophesy will be fulfilled in their lifetimes, and every generation of believers has gone to their graves having been proven wrong. I feel confident it'll be the same for your generation as well.
Posted by COMTE on October 9, 2012 at 12:24 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 20
The religion of a lot of these "nones" is pure selfishness mixed with the belief in a Messiah who forgives them for any harm they cause.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on October 9, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 21
@9 I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 9, 2012 at 12:39 PM · Report this
Pick1 22
@18 Just playing devil's advocate, there is the Skepticism movement which is largely considered Atheist. They believe that there could be a higher power, but it is the job of humanity to find it with proof/science rather than faith.
Posted by Pick1 on October 9, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
@22 If one believes there could be a higher power, then one is an agnostic, not an atheist.
Posted by originalcinner on October 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 24
You can be an atheist and believe in the possibility of a god/gods/power/whatever. You just believe that possibility is highly, highly improbable. This is essentially what Richard Dawkins believes. I believe the same. Sure, it's possible that god exists, but I don't think anyone's produced any evidence that's even somewhat convincing. Same with the orbital teapot. I'm sure it's possible there might be one out there, but it's highly, highly improbable.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on October 9, 2012 at 2:05 PM · Report this

There are degrees of Atheism (commonly referred to as "strong" and "weak" branches), that still fall to the disbelief side of the spectrum. Agnosticism is more defined by the "I don't care one way or the other" type of person, whereas a "weak Atheist" for example would tend to disbelieve in the existence of a deity, but would also admit that lack of evidence does not prove this conclusively. A "strong Atheist" on the other hand would categorically deny the existence of a deity, and point to the lack of evidence for such as essentially proving their position.
Posted by COMTE on October 9, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
Knat 26
As long-time reader said @4, there's also the fact that in surveys or census, people often identify with the religious affiliation that they were born into, like it's an extension of their ethnicity. The actual number of agnostic or atheist is actually higher than polls probably show because there's such a stigma to the word "atheist" (thanks for that, religious wingnuts) and because they identify as a particular denomination (Catholic, Methodist, etc) just out of habit from how they grew up, even if they don't believe in the religion.
Posted by Knat on October 9, 2012 at 7:12 PM · Report this

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