Religion’s Decline in US: Let’s Push it Over the Cliff.
The Harris Interactive Poll of November 2013 demonstrates the continuing trend of secularization in the US.
Religion is still a formidable force as the majority of US citizens yet identify as religious in some way. However, the trend in belief in god and other religious claims is clearly down in America especially with regards just how religious someone describes themselves and how much a person thinks god is active in the world (deism vs. theism). Some of the highlights of the Harris report are summarized below.
1. Belief in God
From 2005 to 2013, belief has dropped another 8%; down to 74% of the population reporting a belief in god. In another section of the report over the ten year period from 2003-2013, only 54% are absolutely certain there is a god, with another 14% answering as somewhat certain, a total of only 68%.
In line with these figures, 32% of Americans reported in 2013 that they are either certain there is no god or unsure if there is one. This clearly describes nearly a third of the population as atheist or agnostic with another 14% not certain there is a god. We’re nearly down to only half the US population who remain as unquestioning believers in god!
In another portion of the Harris poll, individual’s religiosity was measured and the numbers show an even stronger trend. Only 19% characterized themselves as very religious, with 23% identifying as not religious at all. The remainder, nearly 60% of Americans identified as “not very” or only “somewhat” religious! How godly or Christian is that? Similarly, a 2012 Pew research shows that only 36% of Americans attend church weekly.
According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey 76% of Americans identify as Christian, 4% as other religions and 20% don’t identify with any religion. Once again, different surveys appear to put the numbers in the same ballpark.
The various polls and different questions all point to the same conclusion: despite most Americans yet identifying as Christians, most are not very religious and many aren’t so sure about god. The decidedly, openly non-religious and non-believers make up at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the population and most of the rest though claiming to be Christian of some kind are not very religious and may be questioning their beliefs.
3. God’s Control of the Earth
In line with the above findings, again from the Harris 2013 data, 33% of us don’t think god exists or if he did, he does not “observe or control” what occurs on earth, again very much in line with the numbers of non-religious and non-believers reported elsewhere in the poll. But another 37% of Americans who are most likely believers identifying as Christians believe only that god merely observes but does not control what happens on earth, a decidedly deistic perspective. Only 29% claim god controls what happens on earth!
Consider that over half of Christians then, when pressed, may only believe in a rather deistic god; the god of Thomas Jefferson and Isaac Newton who created the clockwork universe and let it go without intervention by miracles or the answering of prayers very often, maybe not at all. This comports again with the only 19% that consider themselves “very religious”.
Christianity, while yet claiming the majority in overall numbers (though definitely declining) is losing a lot of ground from within as its adherents question it claims and dogmas, including belief in god and following Christian practices.
4. Religious Claims
From 2005-2103 belief in individual religious ideas such as angels, heaven, hell, the resurrection, miracles, the devil, survival of the soul, the virgin birth, etc., are all down 3-7% as well. None have risen (pun intended) which again agrees with all the declines in belief in god, religiosity, and theism described above.
There is a lot of talk within the secular community of uniting and becoming a formidable political force. We already are, and growing and maybe have a lot more US citizens who still identify as believers than anyone dares admit that are inclining toward a great deal of secular thinking.
Many appear to be less hornswaggled by the tenets of their religion, and many are questioning or outright pulling away from the individual claims.
Consider that 1/4 to 1/3 of those polled are unsure about either Evolution or Creationism. While belief in Creationism has held steady at around 36% of the population over the last ten years, belief in evolution is up 5% over the same time period to 47%!!!. With the recent HUGE public interest in the Ham/Nye debate it is gratifying to see and the numbers show there are a lot of folks on the fence. Despite the constant legislative battles and encroachments on education by the Creationist camp, it is still a minority belief in the US and evolution acceptance is gaining. We are winning and can win on so many fronts with secularism and science replacing absurd 2,000 year-old religious explanations of how the world works.
Let’s turn up the heat another notch and drive the delusions and cruelties of religion towards the cliff even sooner. Education is the key.
Information Kill Religion. It’s working.