Friday, November 8, 2013
Is Religion Dying In America?
More than ever, people are turning away from organized religion in America. As of right now, approximately 31 percent of Millenials identify themselves as being religiously unaffiliated, and that number is only growing.
Some leave religion because they have a fundamental problem with religion in general. Others leave because they lose interest in or dislike churches. However, one reason that people who study the rise of the lack of religion in America often neglect to mention is one most religious people can rarely fathom: more people are being raised in homes without religion, and, as adults, are simply content with that. They never had religion, and nor do they want it.
According to The Huffington Post, in the early 1990′s, slowly, but surely, more Americans began reporting no religious affiliation. Recent numbers put those reporting no religion at around one-in-five. The more people who report having no religion, the more that report being raised in non-religious households. Further, with non-religious identities becoming more and more durable, stable, and acceptable in the United States, people who are raised non-religious are more likely to stay that way. With non-religious people gaining the same sorts of organizations and communities that the religiously affiliated have always had, there is more opportunity to validate and affirm a non-religious identity in accepting environments where people will not quake in horror when they find out someone is anything other than a Christian.
In the past, when people were raised non-religious, they were likely to adopt whatever religion their partners professed. This is no more; in fact, there are entire dating sites, facebook pages, social networking communities, and more devoted to those professing no religious belief and looking for partners and friends who are of the same persuasion. In short, there are a plethora of reasons that lack of religiosity is on the rise. Perhaps the simplest and most ignored is something you are using to read this very article: the internet.
The fact that the internet gives people information at their very fingertips has had a profound effect on religion in the developed world. In times past, children only had what their parents and other people in positions of authority told them as their basis for understanding the world. Now, they have all sorts of access to knowledge that reaches far beyond that, whenever they like it. With access to actual knowledge, their superstitions are quelled, and they are more likely to become secularists. When children have a source to answer the questions they have about their parents’ deeply held beliefs, they are likely to lose their faith at the end of seeking their answers. I should know, for that is what happened to me.
I was raised in a very fundamentalist household. However, I had always had questions about the incredible beliefs that my family held. When I was seventeen, we got the internet in our home. After that, I learned many things about many religions. Most importantly, I learned the history of the Bible. Here is a concise explanation of where that massive tome of immorality that so many people hold so dear comes from:
The King James version of the New Testament was completed in 1611 by 8 members of the Church of England. At that time there were no original texts to translate. Even now the oldest manuscripts we have were written hundreds of years after the last apostle died. There are 8000 of these old manuscripts and no two are alike. The King James translators used none of these anyway, what they did was edited previous translations to create a version their king would approve of.
So, 21st century Christians believe the “word of God” is a book edited in the 17th century of 16th century translations of 8000 contradictory copies of 4th century scrolls from numerous “Christian” sects that were claimed to be copies of 1st century letters of already dead apostles.
Now, of course, there is much more to be learned regarding the Bible’s origins, but that is the gist of where it came from, and I personally cannot bring myself to take something that came into being in such a dubious manner as truth. Obviously, many Americans are learning where this book came from, and are acting accordingly, just as I did. Atheists are the fastest growing group in America, and we will only grow faster as people continue to shed superstition and see the great harms caused by organized religion.
While there are growing numbers of more liberal denominations of Christianity and other religions, which will always be a good thing, there are also more and more people who are relinquishing supernatural belief and organized religious affiliation altogether, and the time when everyone follows suit cannot come soon enough.
Churches face more of a challenge than ever before. They are trying to peddle beliefs that cannot be proven to people who have no religious education or experience from their pasts. For the first time ever, those whose job it is to preserve faith communities cannot rely on bringing back lost members of their flocks. They have to coerce new members, most of whom will find the idea of going to church absolutely absurd, and many of whom find churches and what they teach distasteful enough to where religious leaders would never stand a chance. All in all, I think we can safely say that religion as we know it in America is on its way out. It is only a matter of time.