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Religion On The Decline

Yesterday the results of the American Religious Identification Survey were released and it has become the topic of conversation on just about every news network. The big reveal is that religion is on the decline in America. This is of course in line with the Harris Poll which was released last year. Not only is religion on the decline in America as a whole, but the number of people who answered “No Religion” is on the rise in EVERY State.

One interesting statistic which might have gotten missed in the reporting is that Evangelical/Born Again Christianity is on the rise as is the “Non-Denominational” Christian label. Islam is also slightly on the rise (from .3% in 2001 to .6% today). Judaism on the other hand is on the decline… That is religious Judaism, not cultural Judaism.

According to the American Religious Identification Survey, roughly 45% of all Christians consider themselves Born Again/Evangelical/Non-Denominational. While this is certainly not to say that 45% of Christians are Fundamentalists since Christians like former President Jimmy Carter considers himself an Evangelical, it certainly is a good indicator. In other words, I don’t think it could be accurate to claim that Fundamentalists or the Religious Right are just a small minority of Christian Extremists. It is clear from this survey and that of the Harris Poll from last year that the Religious Right (i.e. fundamentalists) makes up a significant number of the American Christian population. That is almost 34% of all adult Americans! Think about it that is one in every three adults is a fundamentalist.

The upside of the survey is obvious and should not only give us encouragement, but also help us plan for the future. While atheism is up in every state the important part is that we now know how much atheism is up in each state. For instance, we know that you are least likely to find a fellow person of reason in Mississippi and North Dakota than you are in Texas or Alabama. It would be much better to put some of our resources in Louisiana instead of Wisconsin. But we also need to make sure to continue educating people about religion and science on a national level. It does seem that the more outspoken we are becoming the more people are leaving their respective faiths. So I think it is important to continue being “out” as an atheist and to continue to be critical of ridiculous religious ideas.

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