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Monday, June 25, 2007

Who Do We Have to Thank for a More Secular America?

posted by on June 25 at 9:01 AM

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.

RSS icon Comments


"Europe is famous for its empty churches"

Clearly you have never been to Northern Ireland, Italy-specially southern Italy and eastern Europe.

Posted by SeMe | June 25, 2007 9:16 AM

On the one hand, I'd say file this under "Thinking, Wishful."

On the other, it's pretty easy to accept that the Cathaholic, Southern Baptist and Talibangelical churches are churning out atheists by the truckload. Isn't their existence proof that no rational, sane god could exist?

Posted by Original Andrew | June 25, 2007 9:39 AM

If the moral of this story is that being an asshole will tend to drive people away from your movement then the Dawkinses and Hitchenses might want to re-examine their tactics.

Posted by flamingbanjo | June 25, 2007 10:13 AM

you mean James Dobson (and maybe Lou Sheldon)?

Posted by Acolyte | June 25, 2007 10:26 AM

europe is becoming more religious because its muslim population can't keep it in their pants.

it ain't christianity that enjoying a resurgence.

Posted by maxsolomon | June 25, 2007 10:47 AM

christianity has never been down in some european countries. in southern italy the catholic churches are packed on sunday and dont get me started on eastern europe and its evangelicals and catholic orthodox. and like i said earlier, northern ireland churches are Standing room only, specially the protestant ones, and the catholic ones in county derry. people always wanna portray ALL of Europe as a bastion of secular reasoning. Bull shit. Maybe some of Europe but not all of it. And of course white folks have to start blaming the muslims for resurgence,its always the foreigners. well not very many mosques in Italy to speak of.

now, clearly some european countries are cool about banning religous nonsense. like france and germany who just banned Tom Cruise, but some european countries are just as silly as here, and whats sillier than vatican city?

Posted by SeMe | June 25, 2007 11:01 AM

More than 800 of them have lost an arm, a leg, fingers or toes. More than 100 are blind. Dozens need tubes and machines to keep them alive. Hundreds are disfigured by burns, and thousands have brain injuries and mangled minds.

These are America's war wounded, a toll that has received less attention than the 3,500 troops killed in Iraq. Depending on how you count them, they number between 35,000 and 53,000.

Posted by Dan Sewage | June 25, 2007 11:09 AM

I'm a 'Course In Miracles' Christian. Therefore, to most 'real' Christians, I'm a pagan destined for hell. But the God I believe in loves everybody. He doesn't advocate war or torture.

I'd be delighted if Americans would wake up and support the constitution on the religious issue - as in, it has NO part in government.

"Render unto God what is God's, and render unto Caesar what is Caesar's."

Posted by Ayden | June 25, 2007 2:27 PM

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