Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why Americans are Leaving Religion - and Not Coming Back

A new PRRI report should make the professional Christian crowd worry about their future ability to continue live well by fleecing the ignorant and gullible. Now, 25% of Americans claim no religious affiliation.  Among those under 30 years of age, 39% have left religion.  Some denominations need to worry more than others, one being the Roman Catholic Church which suffers the highest rate of member defections.  Not only are more and more Americans walking away from religion, but they are also unlikely to ever come back according to the report findings. The reasons are many, but one strong thread is disgust with Christofascist and Catholic Church homophobia and attacks on LGBT citizens.   The report ought to also send a message to the Republican Party that its continued self-prostitution to Christofascists will be a losing proposition if the share of the "Nones" continues to grow as a percentage of the population.  Here are some report findings:
The American religious landscape has undergone substantial changes in recent years. However, one of the most consequential shifts in American religion has been the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans. This trend emerged in the early 1990s. In 1991, only six percent of Americans identified their religious affiliation as “none,” and that number had not moved much since the early 1970s. By the end of the 1990s, 14% of the public claimed no religious affiliation. The rate of religious change accelerated further during the late 2000s and early 2010s, reaching 20% by 2012. Today, one-quarter (25%) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest “religious group” in the U.S.
Today, nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (ages 18-29) are religiously unaffiliated—three times the unaffiliated rate (13%) among seniors (ages 65 and older). While previous generations were also more likely to be religiously unaffiliated in their twenties, young adults today are nearly four times as likely as young adults a generation ago to identify as religiously unaffiliated.
Among young adults, the religiously unaffiliated dwarf the percentages of other religious identifications: Catholic (15%), white evangelical Protestant (9%), white mainline Protestant (8%), black Protestant (7%), other non-white Protestants (11%), and affiliation with a non-Christian religion (7%).
[W]hile younger adults are more likely to report growing up without a religious identity than seniors (13% vs. 4%, respectively), the vast majority of unaffiliated Americans formerly identified with a particular religion.
While non-white Protestants and non-Christian religious groups have remained fairly stable, white Protestants and Catholics have all experienced declines, with Catholics suffering the largest decline among major religious groups: a 10-percentage point loss overall. Nearly one-third (31%) of Americans report being raised in a Catholic household, but only about one in five (21%) Americans identify as Catholic currently. Thirteen percent of Americans report being former Catholics. . . .
The reasons Americans leave their childhood religion are varied, but a lack of belief in teaching of religion was the most commonly cited reason for disaffiliation. Among the reasons Americans identified as important motivations in leaving their childhood religion are: they stopped believing in the religion’s teachings (60%), their family was never that religious when they were growing up (32%), and their experience of negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people (29%).
Among those who left their childhood religion, women are twice as likely as men to say negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian individuals was a major reason they chose to leave their religion (40% vs. 20%, respectively). Women are also about twice as likely as men to cite the clergy sexual-abuse scandal as an important reason they left their childhood faith (26% vs. 13%, respectively).
Young adults (age 18 to 29) who left their childhood religion are about three times more likely than seniors (age 65 and older) to say negative religious teachings about and treatment of the gay and lesbian community was a primary reason for leaving their childhood faith (39% vs 12%, respectively).
Notably, those who were raised Catholic are more likely than those raised in any other religion to cite negative religious treatment of gay and lesbian people (39% vs. 29%, respectively) and the clergy sexual-abuse scandal (32% vs. 19%, respectively) as primary reasons they left the Church.
Overall, religiously unaffiliated and affiliated Americans hold significantly different views about the merits of organized religion, both for themselves and for society as a whole. About two-thirds (66%) of unaffiliated Americans agree “religion causes more problems in society than it solves.”
Americans who are unaffiliated also reject the notion that religion plays a crucial role in providing a moral foundation for children. Approximately two-thirds (66%) of unaffiliated Americans believe it is not important for children to be brought up in a religion so they can learn good values.
[R]elatively few unaffiliated Americans report they regularly devote much time to thinking about God or religion. More than seven in ten (72%) unaffiliated Americans say that in their day-to-day life, they do not spend much time thinking about God or religion.Religiously unaffiliated Americans are also less likely than religious Americans to link belief in God to moral behavior. Only about one in five (21%) unaffiliated Americans say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. More than three-quarters (77%) reject this idea, including 61% who strongly reject it.
Rejectionists, who account for the majority (58%) of all unaffiliated Americans, say religion is not personally important in their lives and believe religion as a whole does more harm than good in society.
The political preferences of religiously unaffiliated Americans depart notably from those of most other religious groups. A plurality (48%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans are politically independent. One-third of the unaffiliated (33%) are Democrats and only 12% identify as Republican. Although the religiously unaffiliated are more likely to identify as independent than Democratic, they are about twice as likely to be politically liberal (41%) as they are to be conservative (21%). Three in ten (30%) are politically moderate.
Clinton and Trump’s voting coalitions differ considerably in terms of each candidate’s proportion of support from white Christians, non-white Christians, and the religiously unaffiliated. Among Hillary Clinton’s supporters, seven percent are white evangelical Protestant, 12% are white mainline Protestant, 11% are white Catholic, 30% are religiously unaffiliated, and 15% are black Protestant. In contrast, among Donald Trump’s supporters, 33% are white evangelical Protestant, 19% are white mainline Protestant, 18% are white Catholic, 13% are religiously unaffiliated, and just one percent are black Protestant.

Personally, I agree with the Nones who view religion as a net evil.  I most certainly disagree with the religious who claim that religion is needed to learn moral values, especially in light of the lies and hatred of others that are pillars of organized Christianity.  Overall, the more people who identify as "Nones" the better off the nation will be.

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