It’s sometimes hard to tell, but America is becoming less religious and more secular as the years progress. It seems every so many months someone writes an article about the declining religiosity of Americans and here’s another one:
When you count the people in the pews on Sunday rather than having a pollster ask whether or not they attend church, fewer than 18% attend church regularly. From 1980 to 2005 in the Southern Baptist Church, baptisms of people between eighteen and thirty four – in other words, their next generation of leaders – fell 40 percent, from 100,000 in 1980 to 60,000 in 2005.But the U.S. population grew by 27% during those 25 years, so the Baptists would have had to baptize 127,000 in 2005 just to stay even; they really fell by 52%. In 2006, the Southern Baptists – who claim almost six times more members than any other white evangelical church – made a concerted effort to baptize one million people. Not only did they fall over two-thirds short, they actually baptized even fewer than they had the year before.
You might think that some faith group must have grown during the last thirty years, and you’d be right: atheists and nonbelievers more than doubled in the eleven years between 1990 and 2001, from 14 million to 29 million: from 8% of the country to 14%. There are more than twice as many atheists and nonbelievers as there are evangelical Christians. And since it’s hard to believe that all atheists/nonbelievers would be willing to confess that to pollsters, the number is probably much higher. From 2000 to 2005, church attendance fell in all fifty states.
Of course I see this trend as a good thing. More specifically I’m quite pleased that the numbers of evangelical Christians is on the decline while atheists and non-believers is on the rise. I wouldn’t have a problem with several other Christian sects continuing to thrive as many are not as problematic as the evangelicals, though if all the various sects were to fade away I wouldn’t be overly upset about it either. That possibility is pretty unlikely so I’m more than willing to be content with the more moderate denominations sticking around so long as the worse of the lot continues to shrink.
Then there’s this bit of heartwarming news as icing on the cake:
Then, to add insult to injury, when a sampling of non-Christians were asked to rate eleven groups in terms of respect, they rated evangelicals tenth. Only prostitutes ranked lower.
Oooh, that’s gotta sting!
Evangelicals constitute not 25 percent of the U.S. population – as they have claimed – but at most 7 percent, and their numbers are falling, not rising. All these numbers come from the churches themselves. While evangelical women make up at least 3.5% of the population (half of 7%), they make up about 20% of the women who get abortions.
Hypocrisy among the faithful? That’s unpossible!
Given that their numbers are so small and declining you have to wonder how it is that they seem to have control of the Republican party. More importantly, you have to wonder why the moderate Conservatives haven’t gotten their shit together and taken the party back to something a little less batshit insane.
But at least there’s some comfort to be found in their decline. They’ll eventually fade into obscurity so long as we can keep them from ruining the country first.