Can our nation “Keep the Faith”? An American Religious Self-Identification Survey released this week cast doubt, revealing that more and more
Twenty percent listed their religious affiliation as “none.” The number of “no religion” folk has grown by 20 million since a similar ARIS poll was conducted in 1990, and is the only religious category to have increased in every state.
Maybe we’re returning to a condition like the one that prevailed at the time of the country’s founding. In the years before the Revolutionary War, historians estimate, only one-in-eight of the American colonists formally belonged to any church. Many were what John Adams called “Horse Protestants,” meaning that they were certainly not Roman Catholics or Jews, but had about as much appreciation for the Reformation theology of Martin Luther and John Calvin as Oliver Cromwell’s horse. It was an age of deists and freethinkers.
Dr. Barry Kosmin, one of the investigators on the ARIS study, affirms that “Denominationalism, or Christian brands, have eroded since 1990—even Protestant doesn’t mean anything anymore.” In evidence, traditional denominations like Presbyterians, Methodists, and Episcopalians have dropped from 18.7 percent of the
What accounts for the precipitous decline of faith? Here’s one hypothesis:
In the generation after
If separation of church and state made the United States one of the most devout countries on earth, it’s possible the recent intermingling of faith and politics—particularly on the Religious Right--leaves more and more Americans spiritually turned off. I, for one, have grown heartily weary of the phrase “God Bless
Do you suppose the way to rekindle our nation’s faith is to get God off the political platform, out of the voting booth, and back into people’s hearts, as responsibility toward your community and compassion for your neighbor? Admittedly, it’s a revolutionary idea—in the spirit of the founders.