The U.S. has been steadily losing its religion for decades — but that trend might ramp up significantly in the years to come.
The U.S. has been steadily losing its religion for decades. For the most part, Protestants have been leaving the church while the affiliation rates among Catholicism and other religions in the country have remained stable. But since 1990, Americans have been abandoning both belief and religious affiliation at such a fast pace that, by 2035, it's likely that 35 percent of the population will have no religious affiliation — outnumbering protestants.
In an article posted on his blog, Allen Downey, a professor of computer science at Olin College, used historical data from the General Social Survey (GSS) to generate predictions about the future of religious belief in the U.S., each with a 90 percent confidence interval.
“According to the Theory of Secularization, as societies become more modern, they become less religious. Aspects of secularization include decreasing participation in organized religion, loss of religious belief, and declining respect for religious authority.
Until recently the United States has been a nearly unique counterexample, so I would be a fool to join the line of researchers who have predicted the demise of religion in America. Nevertheless, I predict that secularization in the U.S. will accelerate in the next 20 years.”
The graph above was generated using data from the GSS question that reads: “What is your religious preference: is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?”
Downey summarized his findings on religious affiliation in the U.S.:
In addition to religious affiliation, Americans also seem to be losing their religious belief — at least strong belief, as Downey's model shows.
Downey also used GSS data to make predictions about people's interpretations of the bible.
...as well as their confidence in religious institutions.
Startling as the numbers may be, there's reason to think these projections are actually conservative, considering:
Although religion seems to be dying out in the U.S., other forms of spirituality might be just as present as ever.
A 2014 Pew study found that, between 2007 and 2014, the percentage of Americans who felt a "deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being" had increased from 52 to 59 percent, while the percentage of those who felt a "deep sense of wonder about the universe" increased from 39 to 46 percent.
His Holiness Pope Francis wants to see the end of two things in this world: red sauces at diplomatic dinners, and arrogance.
After much research and many interviews with religious leaders of all faiths and denominations, writer and social justice advocate Mark Shriver has come to the conclusion that the pope is restoring the "soul" of the Catholic church through his commitment to core principles of humility and charity. According to Shriver, Pope Francis understands power and uses it effectively on behalf of the disadvantaged. He invites everyone – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist – to challenge two things: contentment and arrogance. Many of the social divides we experience are a result of a cognitive dissonance between ourselves and other people. The distance could be lessened if we were all out on the frontiers of life, outside of our comfort zone, connecting to those who need it most and showing them that we acknowledge their dignity and humanity as something separate to their current circumstances. "The frontier doesn't have to be halfway around the world, it can be in your neighborhood," says Shriver. "You can go talk to the neighbor down the street that you don't really like or you don't know, and you don't want to take the time to get to know. So that challenge to go to the frontiers is a pretty challenging one." Shriver's new book is Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis.
Mark Shriver's most recent book is Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis.