Study: Sharp Decline In Americans With Faith Or Religion Affiliations

350px-God2-Sistine_ChapelThere is another study showing the decline of religious beliefs in the United States — and a considerable generational gap. The study published in the American Journal of Sociology shows 68% Americans aged 65 and over said they had no doubt God existed but only 45% of young adults, aged 18-30, agreed with that position. Likewise, 41% of people 70 and older said they attend church services at least once a month, compared to 18% of people 60 and below.

We have previously discussed the rise of agnostics and atheists around the world. While the United States has remained one of the most religious countries, the trend has been clearly moving toward a less religious and more secular society.

The study also found 94 percent of Americans born before 1935 claim a religious affiliation. For the generation born after 1975, that number drops over twenty percent to 71 percent.

Indeed, as we discussed earlier the fastest growing religious group in the United States is “no religion.”

Given the long history of faith-based politics in the United States, the obvious and continuing trend away of religion is likely to have a pronounced impact in some areas. However, the rise of agnostic and atheist citizens does not necessarily translate to more liberals as opposed to conservatives in areas like the economy or foreign affairs.

What do you think?

55 thoughts on “Study: Sharp Decline In Americans With Faith Or Religion Affiliations”

  1. Renegade,
    There is a strong evolutionary advantage in ethical/moral behavior. It allows for mutual trust and protection of the group. Multiple species of higher order animals show these characteristics.
    I don’t know the origins of consciousness, and there is no way to prove or disprove its origin, or its connection to the brain.
    It is a very interesting journey though, right?

  2. Again from another thread…
    If there is no creator (pick ur type), from whence do all these quanta packets get any sense of ethical behavior?

    There is nothing in physics or chemistry which gives rise to any form of self awareness, much less a “right” behavior. Life forms
    (biology) derive from the first two science worlds which cannot exist without the other in this universe. How is it that elements can form or gather in such a way as to come to awareness and caring about other complex
    chemical compositions?

    With all of our superhuman computational skills and the ability to crack genomes, we, the most intelligent beings on this blue marble, have yet to restore a crushed rose, much less build one from primordial soup.

    That said, I still have the sense of the how and when…it’s the mere abiluty to ask “why” that keeps me enthralled with the search.

  3. @PhillyT

    Thx! And FWIW, I don’t have that conception of God either. I truly believe that we were created by something, even if it turns out to be Ancient Astronauts from Rigel 4 or something. And Christianity is really pretty simple—just follow the 10 Commandments, and love people and love God, whatever he is. And have faith that there is an afterlife of some sort where we can all be reunited with our friends, our families, and our pets.

    I am still working hard on the “loving people” part.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl reporter

  4. All I remember about church was them asking for money and talking about hell. Turns out there is no hell, though I hear LA is getting pretty bad. (Albert Brooks, Defending Your Life).

    I understand that religious people *believe* that they are inspired by god or that the bible was written by god, but I just don’t buy it.

    However, what this means is that I’m about to lose my own argument here. Because if, as I believe, the authors of the bible and other scriptures are just a bunch of wise-for-their-time men, and that philosophers are in fact the same, then it turns out that the sources are identical. While I think there may be some higher consciousness, I don’t think it’s a dude sitting on a cloud reading my email over my shoulder. So if I distill my beliefs down, it turns out the sources are the same, religion, philosophy, holy books, all just a bunch of guys (mostly guys), writing what they know about.

    Point Squeeky. Hats off to you.

  5. @NickS

    Thanks Nick! It’s nice to know I have a few fans! Particularly with the hot weather coming up!


    Usually, I am not trying to insult you. It just sort of sounds that way when I accurately describe what you do or say. Which should make you maybe start reconsidering what you do or say. 🙂

    Anyway, so now you say:

    “I believe that religion is NOT the foundation for morality. Rational thought and empathy are the basis of morality. The two ARE indeed intertwined, but religion is not the basis for morality, thought and empathy are. Is that clear enough for you? Two things being close, or correlated does not link them causally.”

    I think where you went wrong is by committing the error of “false attribution.” For example, “I don’t like Trump, so Trump is a fascist racist!” Liberals do that a lot, but frankly so do conservatives sometimes. For example, “Hillary is the anti-Christ!” where clearly Hillary is only a minion of the anti-Christ and the favorite daughter of Satan, himself.

    I think you probably do not care much for religion, so you made the false attribution that religion has nothing whatsoever to do with ethics, morals, or justice. Never has, never will.” Yet, religion is pretty much just a form of “law.” Does “law” have anything to do with ethics, morals, or justice.” Of course it does, and so did, and does religion.

    What the Bible calls sins, or promulgates as commandments, is basically just “laws” to help people live together. Thou shalt not steal! Thou shalt not kill! Those are not things which a “God” has to worry about. Nobody is going to steal God’s car, or God’s cattle, or commit adultery with God’s wife, if he has one. Those commandments are for people, so that they can live a better life in a civilized society.

    But laws need to be taught, and judged, and enforced, Those are the main aspects that “religion” concerned itself with. The Old Jews has religious courts, and texts wherein they debated various aspects of the law. Where violators were judged and punished. Where morals, and ethics, and justice were decided, and acted upon.

    The West moved to secular courts over the centuries, but we still see the influence in American courts where our “courts of equity” are the direct descendants of the English courts run by “Chancellors” who were usually churchmen, and had the authority to ameliorate the actions of the “courts of law.” Some states still have chancery courts and chancellors. Bankruptcy courts for example, are courts of equity. And even today, most of our laws are still simply mutations of those Old Laws and commandments. Thou shalt not steal, may have become several chapters in a criminal code.

    Sooo, I don’t think you can pretend like religion wasn’t ever involved in this (never has.) Plus, when you go to church, what does the preacher talk to you about, teach about, and get on your a$$ about??? Your morals, your ethics, and what is fair and just. Duh! Do you get that in your science class??? Our mathematics? Or English? No, its still mostly taught in church, although we are constantly being preached at by non-preachers.

    There is a verse in the bible, and I am going to give you a translations from the Message Bible, which is written in vernacular American:

    Romans 2:15-16The Message (MSG)

    14-16 When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.

    That maybe expresses what you are trying to say, but also shows you how a religious person can equally believe that ethics and morals and justice is ingrained inside of us by God, and that it is part of how we are created.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  6. Squeek, I’ll say it again, great to have you back agitating and rappin’.

  7. Sorry you are so confused by my statements. I could really do without the insults, but it seems to be in your nature to insult people you disagree with, so I’ll try to ignore it.

    A little hyperbole on my part may be what is confusing you. I’m not sure why, as you do it frequently , but here goes:

    I believe that religion is NOT the foundation for morality. Rational thought and empathy are the basis of morality. The two ARE indeed intertwined, but religion is not the basis for morality, thought and empathy are. Is that clear enough for you? Two things being close, or correlated does not link them causally.

    There are plenty of examples of moral and empathetic behavior in the animal kingdom. It appears to be something that evolved with multiple species, ours included. In many ways we are much less moral than animals because of our mental capacity for imagination and cruelty. Hence our need for ethics and morals. But we come to that through the evolution of thought, it is not given to us from on high. I hope that clears things up for you, but if not, we’ll just have to leave it. I’ve got stuff to do.

  8. @PhillyT

    Why did I know that you would try to wiggle out of a really dumb statement, rather than just fessing up to being less than perfect??? My goodness! The power of ego. This is your problem, and the problem of liberals in general. You all tend to be too “tightly wound”, and therefore not very susceptible to thinking new thoughts. This is why you guys have trouble assimilating new facts, and then changing your opinions about things. For example, still acting like it is the 1940s and 1960s and Jim Crow is the law of the land. Son, it is a new world, and what we’re seeing today in the hood isn’t your grandfather’s poor oppressed Negro. The marriage rate among blacks has dropped from around 88% to about 25%, and there ain’t nobody barring the doorway of the Marriage License Bureau, like whatz-hiz-name in Alabama. But you liberals prefer to invent nonsense like “White Privilege” and “Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome” rather than just admit your stupid welfare programs misfired and helped screw the hell out of the black community.

    Anyway, here is what you originally said:

    “Anyone who has taken even an introductory level philosophy class knows that religion has nothing whatsoever to do with ethics, morals, or justice. Never has, never will.”

    Now, you say,

    “Sorry, Sqeaky, That’s an interesting article, but all it demonstrates is that morality and religion are intertwined. And of course, they are. ”

    I submit that being “intertwined” is obviously the opposite of “has nothing whatsoever to do with.” For example, Susie has nothing whatsoever to do with Sammy. Oh Mommie, Susan and Sammy are intertwined in her bedroom and I think the headboard is about to bust through the wall!!!

    C’mon PhillyT. Let this be the day when you have your moment of clarity, and realize that you aren’t perfect, and that sometimes you are just plain wrong about things, and that sometimes you have to think new thoughts, and that you are just a human being like the rest of us.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. 1. short word phrases later called “commandments” 6-9 deal with right of neighbor to live without having property or spouse taken away. #10 was new step, excess desire of coveting as adverse to individual and neighbors.
    2. about 70 references to neighbor in OT. In NT only 16 and they center around the test question by the scholar of Law (first five chapters of OT) who knen of emphasis on love your neighbor as yourself TRADITION. Test question is who was the neighbor wnen the Temple Priest, and the low-level Temple functionary Levite, both crossed over to the other side of the road on seein a half dead person, likely also a Jew, ahead of them. Or the man from the land Judaeans did not regard as neighbors, the unfertile ground of fertility relgions of Samaria, the non Jew-Samaritan who loved/appreciated his wine and oil and washed the wounds, utilitized his donkey to transport the victim, and paid two days wages to the innkeeper to help the victim rehab. Simple enough parable but commonly not understood. imo certainly a parable of ethic of loving neighbor as oneself.
    4. So if all of the Law and all of the Prophets do hang on the one commandment, that commandment relates to both ethics and the individual.
    5. But that is not social ethics. Paul lays down some social ethics, very different than social ethics of Matthew.
    6. a third source of social ethics is located in the verbal tradition of the Lords Prayer and Sermon on the Mount//Sermon on the Plain, that became the text of Matthew and Luke.
    7. throw in a modern surprise. The text does not read “blessed are the poor” but reads “in rags are the poor”. That’s not a put down, that’s a show some empathy for their situation.
    Yes, a type of situational ethics far before Harvey Cox help popularize situational ethics,
    8. That’s all good reading, but comes the huge problem. No more revelation. No more revealed truth. Only comes interpretations of the admitedly seperated traditions within the NT.

    Therefore, Christianinty will be forever characterised by divisions and substractions.
    Only growth will be with relgions offering ongoing revelation like with LDS, and with charismatic oracles who preach a pure truth sounding spiel, to the classes below middle class.
    Worse yet, fundies drive people away from the OT and NT by insisting that their cherry picked litany of scripture is the only truth.

    In conclusion, churches fail to teach whatJesus really said and did,
    and the churches themselves deconstruct Christian faith and tradition.

    An exception,Presbyterian long history of resisting the Israeli un-neighborly occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. It was early Presbys who got killed for translating the NT from the original hebrew and aramaic, into the language of the people.

    The brilliant mind that wrote Being and Time readily favored Nazisim=nationalism, because Martin had not been sutdent of teaching of loving neighbor as yourself. If Martin had empathised with pogrommed Jews and gypsies, he would have not affilited with Nazis.

  10. Sorry, Sqeaky,
    That’s an interesting article, but all it demonstrates is that morality and religion are intertwined. And of course, they are. But morality is in no way dependent on religion and it says as much in the article. From the section on Socrates:

    “‘Is the holy holy because it is loved by the gods, or do they love it because it is holy?’ (Euthyphro, 10a). Socrates makes it clear that his view is the second…”

    What he is saying here is that the holy is holy in and of itself, that it is inherently holy. This holds true for moral wrongs as well. If murder, rape and slavery are wrong, they are not wrong because god says they are wrong, they are wrong inherently. If this were not so, then they would only be relatively wrong, temporarily wrong, capriciously wrong. They could be changed at any time if god said so, or if people came to believe that god changed his/her mind. If there are things that are inherently immoral, like killing, rape, and slavery, then we do not need god to tell us so, for it is already so.

    The other problem here, is human beings claiming to know the mind of god, who it strangely turns out, always has the same viewpoint they do. Take an issue like slavery. In this day and age, most rational people would agree that enslaving another human being is immoral, and that it always has been. (if someone wants to argue otherwise, please don’t). Many religious people believed for centuries, even millennia, that slavery was not only NOT wrong, but that god sanctioned it. Did god change his/her mind? No, of course, not. The bible was wrong, slavery is wrong, and human beings had to mature and grow to come to realize the wrongness and immorality of slavery. Some chistians came to believe that slavery was wrong, and opposed it, based on their personal morality, which they then reinforced through new understandings of scripture. If anything, religion was an obstacle to the end of slavery as well as a justification for ending it. So religion intertwines itself with the human discovery of morality, but it is not and cannot be the basis of morality.

  11. Intolerance.

    Religion is not seen as a celebration of our one in being with God. Many use it to celebrate their “righteousness” and the “sinfulness” of others.

    I say this as a person who attends religious services weekly.

Comments are closed.