The percentage of Americans claiming no religious affiliation has been growing steadily over the last decade, and currently stands around twenty percent. This represents a significant weakening in the hold of organized religion on American culture. So, is this a good thing?
I say yes! Of course, claiming no religious affiliation does not necessarily make you an atheist, but that’s okay. It’s not really religion per se that bothers me, but organized religion. Disorganized religion seems a lot less pernicious. So I see this particular trend as an unambiguous good.
Unsurprisingly, though, that puts me in the minority. According to a recent Pew survey, forty-eight percent of adults view the decline of organized religion as a bad thing. An additional thirty-nine percent think it makes no difference. Just eleven percent think it is a good thing.
The surprising part is that nineteen percent of the unaffiliated think the decline is a bad thing. A whopping fifty-five percent think it makes no difference, while a mere twenty-four percent think it is a good thing.
Of course, the results vary depending on the religious affiliation of the respondents. It really doesn’t much matter, though, whether you think it is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s happening regardless. I suppose it’s always possible there will be another great awakening, but I doubt it. Once people lose their interest in religious institutions, it’s hard to get them back.