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Survey: Number of nonbelievers on rise
By no means was this column ever designed to be a sermon. Truth is, I’m just not the preachy kind.
I hold a great respect for anyone’s religious beliefs and I would hope others share the same approach.
But I admit I was startled this week reading a new exhaustive survey that shows Americans who say they have no religious belief is on the rise. And on the rise in a big way.
Those Americans who say they hold no religious belief has risen by 266 percent since 1991.
If these numbers are correct — or even close — that means there are as many people who claim no religious belief as there are Catholics and Evangelicals.
Almost a quarter of all Americans surveyed claim no religious affiliation, which is almost identical to the number who hold Catholic or Protestant Evangelical affiliation.
Statistically, all church congregations in America are declining. And the only group increasing in size are non-believers.
The survey says there are two reasons for this dramatic decline in organized religion.
First, society has changed and many non-believers — known as nones — lied about their religious beliefs in the past because of social pressure.
The second reason — so the survey shows — is that some more moderate Americans believe the church has taken an inappropriate and hard-right stance on issues like gay marriage and abortion.
With the rise of “nones,” mainline Protestant Christians have decreased by 62 percent since 1982.
So what does all of this mean and what does it bode for the future?
Well, the answer lies squarely on your religious belief or lack thereof.
One other note. The trend toward less religious belief is not isolated to the United States. Many European countries report an identical decline in religious belief over the same timespan.
Here’s my takeaway from this survey.
It’s easy to correlate the decline in religious belief and the decline in American values.
There is no question that American society has undergone a radical change in recent years. Removing all aspects of religion from the public square has become our national policy and more changes appear likely on the horizon.
It’s not as simple as blaming this religious decline on right-leaning church policy or heated issues like abortion and gay marriage.
No, it’s much more complex than that.
Far too many of our current “leaders” concoct policy and law that more often than not runs against the grain of religious belief. They find themselves in positions of power and then use that influence to advance an agenda that runs against biblical teaching.
But the reality — once again if this survey is to be believed — is that there are less Americans of strong faith to fight against this tide.
There’s a price to pay for this exodus from organized religion. What that price is and when the bill will come due is a subject of debate.