Religion Who Do We Have to Thank for a More Secular America?
posted by June 25 at 9:01 AMon
While America is famous for its packed churches and public religiosity and Europe is famous for its empty churches and public secularism, Ross Douthat argues in the new issue of The Atlantic Monthly that Europe is becoming more religious while America is becoming less religious.
America’s secular turn actually began in the 1990s, though it wasn’t until 2002 that two Berkeley sociologists first noticed it. In a paper in the American Sociological Review, Michael Hout and Claude S. Fischer announced the startling fact that the percentage of Americans who said they had “no religious preference” had doubled in less than 10 years, rising from 7 percent to 14 percent of the population.
And who can claim credit for doubling the number of American atheists, agnostics, and/or folks with “no religious preferences” at all? It wasn’t Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, or Christopher Hitchens, as the recent spate of books by “militant atheists” were published long after the number of Americans without faith doubled. So who gets the credit?
The unexpected spike wasn’t the result of growing atheism, Hout and Fischer argued; rather, more Americans were distancing themselves from organized religion as “a symbolic statement” against the religious right. If the association of religiosity with political conservatism continued to gain strength, the sociologists suggested, “then liberals’ alienation from organized religion [might] become, as it has in many other nations, institutionalized.”
So thanks to Lou Dobson, Pat Robertson, and the late Jerry Falwell, along with Ken Hutcherson and Mark Driscoll.