I think it’s fair to say that Christian convictions are under attack as never before. Not just in our lifetime, but ever before in the history of this great nation. We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity.
— Mike Huckabee, quoted by Politico.
Of Americans believe the Bible is in some way connected to God, according to Gallup: “Twenty-eight percent believe the Bible is the actual word of God and that it should be taken literally. This is somewhat below the 38% to 40% seen in the late 1970s and near the all-time low of 27% reached in 2001 and 2009. But about half of Americans continue to say the Bible is the inspired word of God, not to be taken literally.”
2 in 3
The number of Americans who believe that churches are partly responsible for gay teen suicides. About four in ten also believe that, “the message coming out of churches about gay people is negative.”
Where is the fuck who is against Mother Teresa?
— Known bigot and old school Jewish comedian Jackie Mason, speaking at a protest rally at the Empire State Building. The skyscraper’s owner, Anthony E. Malkin, declined to light the landmark to honor the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth, leading anti-Islamic voices to claim a link to plans to build a Muslim community center in Manhattan.
At last, some good news on the American religious front. A new study shows 15 percent of Americans claim no religious affiliation. Only 10 percent of the 34 million people who are being called “Nones” say they don’t believe in God. Rather, they don’t believe in people who believe in God. To put it another way, they think what they think and don’t need a church full of loonies to tell them how to live.
In 1990, just 8 percent of the population claimed no affiliation with a religious denomination. In terms of education, income, and marital status, Nones are similar to the general population, though they are more likely to live in the Northeast or Pacific Northwest. In Vermont, they actually make up the largest single “denomination.” Nones are, on average, younger than the general population—a factor helping to make them the fastest-growing segment of the religious landscape.
Who could blame people for turning away from churches? In recent years, the scandals outnumber the success stories. From meth addict Ted Haggard to Tony Alamo and Warren Jeffs having sex with little girls to televangelists who rip off their flocks to fruitcakes like Fred Phelps whose views are incomprehensibly twisted…who needs it?
A recent national poll found that the proportion of Americans who believe that religion can “answer all or most of today’s problems” has fallen to 48 percent—an all-time low. Many believers, says religion writer Julia Duin, “are perplexed and disappointed with God.”
I don’t think it’s God’s fault that we’re acting out some very strange behavior. But I do think it’s a healthy sign that we’re beginning to pull away from all that.
“If current trends continue and cohorts of nonreligious young people replace older religious people,” the Trinity study states, “the likely outcome is that in two decades, the Nones could account for around one-quarter of the American population.” Nonreligious citizens tend to hold more liberal political and cultural views than regular churchgoers, suggesting that a continued decline in religious affiliation could be accompanied by a rise of liberalism.
Like I said, this is not a bad thing.