Saturday, April 13, 2019

"Nones" Now More Numerous than Catholics or Evangelicals

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One thing the wrongly named "Christian Right" - they are neither Christian nor right - is doing most effectively is poisoning the Christian brand and driving people from religion, especially younger Americans.  As noted in the prior post, evangelical support for Donald Trump - likely the most morally bankrupt individual to ever occupy the White House - illustrates just how false and toxic religion can be (and that's without adding the horrors religion has caused over the centuries).   Adding to the exodus no doubt is the Catholic Church's never ending sex abuse scandal and the Church's refusal to hold bishops and cardinals truly accountable for their malfeasance if not active cover up of abuse. Now, for the first time, the so-called "Nones" are the largest "religious" group in the USA.  Given the current trends, their numbers will likely continue to soar (and yes, I see this as welcome news).  Politically, this new reality has not yet translated into representation in elected office, but that time is likely coming.  Here are highlights from CNN:
For the first time "No Religion" has topped a survey of Americans' religious identity, according to a new analysis by a political scientist. The non-religious edged out Catholics and evangelicals in the long-running General Social Survey.
Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Baptist pastor, found that 23.1% of Americans now claim no religion. Catholics came in at 23.0%, and evangelicals were at 22.5%.  The three groups remain within the margin of error of each other though, making it a statistical tie. Over 2,000 people were interviewed in person for the survey. "Religious nones," as they are called by researchers, are a diverse group made up of atheists, agnostics, the spiritual, and those who are no specific organized religion in particular. A rejection of organized religion is the common thread they share.
 "It is the first time we have seen this. The same questions have been asked for 44 years," Burge told CNN.  The meteoric rise of religious nones began in the early 1990s and has grown 266% since 1991, he said.  Burge estimates that 'No Religion' will be the largest group outright in four to six years.
 Robyn Blumner, executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, sees the change as a generational trend driven by millennials.  "We are seeing the rise of a generation of Americans who are hungry for facts and curious about the world," she says.
 Whatever the causes, the non-religious represent a growing constituency. Yet this demographic is greatly underrepresented in Washington's halls of power. There is not a single open atheist amid the most diverse Congress in history, according to a Pew study.
 The Congressional Freethought Caucus's 10 members try to represent non-theist interests while protecting the secular character of government.  "This growing group of Americans can feel like there is at least some people in Congress who believe they matter." says the co-chair and founder, Rep. Jared Huffman of California.

A piece in The Daily Mail also reports as follows:
Shifting political ideologies about social issues has also played a role, with fewer Americans comfortable with the rhetoric of their religious leaders.
'Another (theory) is that the religious right kind of cleaved moderate Christianity and a lot of moderate Christians who were moderately attached said they didn't want to defend Jerry Falwell … and all the anti-gay and anti- abortion religious rights leaders,' Burge said. 'So they said, 'You know what? I'm out.'
As the 'nones' have ascended, the number of mainline Protestant Christians has fallen 62.5 percent since 1982, to now account for just 10.8 percent of the U.S. population, according to the survey.
Again, I hope the trend continues and that politicians are forced to stop prostituting themselves to the shrinking "religious right."

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