America is becoming less religious, but also more polarized

America is becoming less religious, but also more polarized November 4, 2015

A recent Pew study came out showing how the religiously unaffiliated has increased again in the United States. This is great news for secularists as people are distancing themselves from religious dogma. We can see this trend in multiple areas:

lessreligious1

 

I think the most encouraging aspects of this graph is the increase of “unaffiliated” and the decrease of those who are “unaffiliated” that believe in god. As you can see in the next two charts, younger Americans are certainly becoming less religious as well.

 

youner

young

 

However, it’s very important to note that those who remain religious are even more devout than they were in years past. While it’s tempting to quickly cast this as a win for Team Atheism, we should evaluate the entire picture. First off, acceptance towards homosexuality is increasing, but attitudes towards abortion are staying the same.

gayabortion

The researchers of this study even conclude that “by some conventional measures, religiously affiliated Americans are, on average, even more devout than they were a few years ago.” As we can see in the three figures below, the religiously affiliated still consider religion to be “very important” to them and maintain or even increase their religious practices.

veryimporant

nodecline

growingshare

 

So the take away message here is yes, many Americans are becoming less religious, but those who remain religious may be becoming even more devout. This is still encouraging overall, but we need to be aware that the religious right is still a significant and polarized force. The next few decades will be interesting because I imagine the highly religious will continue to feel “persecuted” as their numbers continue to dwindle and the country becomes more secular. This could make the religious right feel threatened and be even more dangerous in their attempt to take away people’s rights. I also predict that we will continue to become a more secular nation and eventually the religious will become a harmless minority.  However, until that happens, we need to be vigilant and keep fighting against religious influence in our government.

 


Featured image from Flickr under Creative Commons 2.0

 

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