Christian Right Has Major Role in Hastening Decline of Religion in America

Source: Alternet

Author: CJ Werleman

Of those aged 18 to 35, three in 10 say they are not affiliated with any religion, while only half are “absolutely certain” a god exists. These are at or near the highest levels of religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the 25 years the Pew Research Center has been polling on these topics.

As encouraging as this data is for secular humanists, the actual numbers may be significantly higher, as columnist Tina Dupuy observes. “When it comes to self-reporting religious devotion Americans cannot be trusted. We under-estimate our calories, over-state our height, under-report our weight and when it comes to piety—we lie like a prayer rug.”

Every piece of social data suggests that those who favor faith and superstition over fact-based evidence will become the minority in this country by or before the end of this century. In fact, the number of Americans who do not believe in a deity doubled in the last decade of the previous century according to both the census of 2004 and the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2008, with religious non-belief in the U.S. rising from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 14.2 percent in 2001. In 2013, that number is now above 16 percent.

If current trends continue, the crossing point, whereby atheists, agnostics, and “nones” equals the number of Christians in this country, will be in the year 2062. If that gives you reason to celebrate, consider this: by the year 2130, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christian will equal a little more than 1 percent. To put that into perspective, today roughly 1 percent of the population is Muslim.

The fastest growing religious faith in the United States is the group collectively labeled “Nones,” who spurn organized religion in favor of non-defined skepticism about faith. About two-thirds of Nones say they are former believers. This is hugely significant. The trend is very much that Americans raised in Christian households are shunning the religion of their parents for any number of reasons: the advancement of human understanding; greater access to information; the scandals of the Catholic Church; and the over-zealousness of the Christian Right.

Political scientists Robert Putman and David Campbell, the authors of American Grace, argue that the Christian Right’s politicization of faith in the 1990s turned younger, socially liberal Christians away from churches, even as conservatives became more zealous. “While the Republican base has become ever more committed to mixing religion and politics, the rest of the country has been moving in the opposite direction.”

Ironically, the rise of the Christian Right over the course of the past three decades may well end up being the catalyst for Christianity’s rapid decline. From the moment Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, evangelical Christians, who account for roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population, identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. Michael Spencer, a writer who describes himself as a post-evangelical reform Christian, says, “Evangelicals fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith. Evangelicals will be seen increasingly as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.”

In light of the recent backlash against Republicans who supported the right-to-discriminate bills across 11 states, Spencer’s words seem prophetic. Republican lawmakers had expected evangelicals to mobilize in the aftermath of Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s veto of SB1062. Instead, legislatures in states like Mississippi, Kansas, and Oklahoma have largely backed down from attempts to protect “religious freedom” after a national outcry branded the proposed bills discriminatory. 

Every denomination in the U.S. is losing both affiliation and church attendance. In some ways the country is a half-generation behind the declining rate of Christianity in other western countries like the U.K., Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, and the Netherlands. In those countries, what were once churches are now art galleries, cafes and pubs. In Germany more than 50 percent say they do not believe in any god, and this number is declining rapidly. In the U.K., church attendances have halved since the 1970s.

A recent study into the beliefs of people living in 137 countries concludes that religious people will be a minority in many developed countries by 2041. Nigel Barber, an Irish bio-psychologist, based his book, Why Atheism Will Replace Religion, on the findings. His book also debunks the popular belief that religious groups will dominate atheistic ones because they collectively have more children. “Noisy as they can be, such groups are tiny minorities of the global population and they will become even more marginalized as global prosperity increases and standards of living improve,” writes Barber.

Anthropologists have often stated that religion evolved to help early man cope with anxiety and insecurity. Barber contends that supernatural belief is in decline everywhere for the fact that ordinary people enjoy a decent standard of living and are secure in their health and finances. “The market for formal religion is also being squeezed by modern substitutes such as sports and entertainment. Even Facebook is killing religion because it provides answers for peculiarly modern narcissistic anxieties for which religion has no answer,” observes Barber.

While some polls show roughly 9 in 10 Americans still maintain belief in a god or gods, the trend of religious young Americans is toward a mish-mash of varied religious beliefs. A 2010 USA Today survey revealed that 72 percent of the nation’s young people identify as “more spiritual than religious.”

With an increasingly majority of younger Americans accepting evolution as fact, Christianity for many under 35 is becoming a watered-down hybrid of eastern philosophy and biblical teachings. “The turn towards being ‘spiritual but not religious’ points at the decreasing observation of doctrine and strict rules and a broader relationship to sentiment and ‘Jesus and me’ on the one hand alongside the rise of yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism and a blend or smorgasbord of eastern practices with the idea of being loosely/broadly spiritual—yet not in any specific context or foundation of the Trinity, Seven Deadly Sins, Karma, Nirvana or any of the pillars or branches of belief,” writes Alan Miller, moderator of a “spiritual but not religious” event.

Young people are turning away from the church and from basic Christian beliefs. While a number of non-denominational mega-churches continue to thrive, their teachings are less dogma and more self-help. Eventually, Christianity-Lite will be replaced with Spirituality-Full Strength.

Certainly, pro-secular groups have been largely successful in removing Jesus from the public square, workplace and classroom.

All of which leaves only one self-evident conclusion: that despite the Christian Right’s well-funded and well-organized effort to transform America’s secular state into a tyrannical theocracy, Christianity will inevitably mirror the days of its origins i.e. something that is only whispered about in secretly guarded places. And that may happen sooner than you think.

Emphasis Mine


A Tip of the Hat to Bill O’Reilly!

With enemies like him, atheists don’t need friends!

He interviewed Dave Silverman, head of the American Atheist group, debating about the organizations billboards challenging the existence of ‘god’. (see )

“I’ll tell you why [religion is] not a scam, in my opinion,” he told Silverman. “Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in.”

Silverman looked stunned. “Tide goes in, tide goes out?” he stuttered. O’Reilly pressed on. “The water, the tide—it comes in and it goes out. It always goes in, then it goes out. … You can’t explain that. You can’t explain it.” Of course, Raw Story points out, people who passed high school science might tell you that tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon as it orbits the earth. But Silverman had a better response: “Maybe it’s Thor up on Mount Olympus who’s making the tides go in and out.”

Tides occur only in oceans – which are all connected – and are caused by the difference in the moon’s gravitational attraction on the side of the earth which it is opposite, and on the side closest: gravitational attraction is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the objects.


CFI Caribbean Cruise – Nov 11-21 2009

CFI Cruise
Nov 11

We arrive in FL, and have dinner with a friend I have not seen for 41 years.  We then set off the next day on a cruise, a CFI Travel Club adventure in the Caribbean.

Nov 12

We board ship in Ft. Lauderdale – my first impression, walking into an atrium area, is that the decor in the Carnival “Miracle”  is gaudy.  Shall we say 1890’s bawdy house revival?

Depart  with a private cocktail party.   Met old friends such as Toni Van Pelt & new – Paul Kurtz.
At supper, we sat with Lawrence Krauss, who shared with me that he was going to use some information I had sent him in an email for one or two articles in Scientific American.

Nov 13

Paul Kurtz – publisher of Promethus Books, discusses the publishing industry: old and new.
Patricia Schroeder on books – what is the future.
In the evening, we had a group photo, and then a formal dinner.  We sat with Pat and her husband at supper, and learned a lot!

Nov. 14

Ruth Frazier spoke on her experiences consulting work in Afghanistan, Tanzania, and with Native Americans and the progress as women learn to read and learn to lead.
Toni Van Pelt on ‘charitable choice’, ‘faith based initiatives’, and the religious freedom restoration act.  Well done, and I took good notes.
Emily Kingsley – a writer for 39 of the 40 years of Sesame Street – presented the history, philosophy and impact of the show: a fabulous experience.
Ken Frazier – editor of the Skeptical Inquirer – presented “Reading, Magazines, the New Media, and the New Skepticism: what’s going on?”  (It’s always refreshing to hear a senior citizen who is not stuck in the past!
Derek Araujo presented “The Establishment clause in Exile: Church and State in the 21st Century”, which was the best Church/State presentation I have yet heard.

Nov. 15

Sharon and I went to a natural habitat rain forest in Costa Rica.  Back on board, I receive a phone call that a friend of 42 years has died. (See my post on Anne Marie at

Nov. 16

We went on the Panama Canal.  In Costa Rica, we saw the results of evolution; on the Canal, of intelligent design.

Nov 17

Toni Van Pelt spoke on the CFI office of Public Policy’s legislative efforts, including CARD (Coalition Against Religious Discrimination), STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), our Credidibility project (global warming), science as an aspect in international diplomacy.  Civic days in 2010 are April 24-7.

Paul Kurtz on the turbulent Universe: controversy is essential in science.  Our (secular) philosophy  of the world includes:  naturalism ; individualization; order; and chance.  We don’t believe, we test hypothesis.  Turbulence is ubiquitious.

Ruth Frazier spoke on using the Socratic method to teach critical thinking and change lives: a very informative and educational presentation, reinforced with a real life example.

Lawrence Krauss on Science vs. Politics: while science should form the basis of a sound public policy, but it has not and does not.  While we emerging in eight dark years of attacks on science and science integrity in D.C., we are not yet out of the pits.  Science works by demonstrating what is wrong, and it does not appear on the political pages.  Scientific issues should be the basis of many important political issues in the next ten years.

Nov 18

Sharon and I went to Mayan Ruins in Belize, where civilization fell victim to Spanish Catholicism.

Nov 19

We got an update from Toni Van Pelt on legislative matters.

Pat Schroeder talked to us about publishing and politics.  Edited and published books versus the freeforall on the Internet: the differences. School textbooks in Texas and elsewhere.

Ken Frazier also spoke on publishing vs writing.

Derek Araujo on CFI at the UN.  Anti-blasphemy laws, etc.  How can religions be true when many are mutually exclusive

Lawrence Krauss spoke on the impact of the latest cosmological data, which show our universe expanding at an increasing rate.  The anthropic principle is an example that what we take from the data depends on our values.  The geometry of space time is flat, which allows for zero total energy, which means it could have come from Nothing…

Nov 20 we left the ship, drove to Palm Beach to have lunch with a financial planner, and on to Orange City, where we took a 90 plus year old couple (friends of Sharon’s late Mom) to dinner.

On the 21st, we flew back.

Science And Religion: shall the twain ever meet?

While ‘science’ has a clear, specific definition, ‘religion’ does not, and there’s the rub.

Science is based on healthy skepticism, and subjecting ideas to rigorous testing by gathering evidence.  Religions vary: some accept evidence based change, others do not.  Those that do not are dogmatic religions based on the absolute authority of ancient writings rather than evidence or facts: they will never be intellectually compatable with science, and they have little chance of contributing to the accumulated knowledge of our species.

Can they meet?  Yes for some religions, no for others.

What to do when one hears: “Happy Easter, Merry Xmas”, etc.

How might a Free Thinker deal with such a statement which constitutes a presumption of a specific religious belief?  If we are rude, arrogant, or too emotional, we don’t enhance our position.

My current reply is: “Thank you, but that is not a holiday which I chose to celebrate.”

Goal: To politely indicate that not everyone has those beliefs.

Reactions: Embarrassed; apologetic; and contrite.

“Thank you…” – polite.

“…I chose to celebrate” – individual choice.


Result: Politely indicated that not everyone has those beliefs.