Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
16

American Religion On Its Death Bed, Going To Hell Soon

'She says I should find Him and I'll know peace at last, If I ever find Jesus, I'm kicking His ass.'Only a decade ago, it seemed horrifyingly certain that the United States was the exclusive realm of screeching old white people who defined themselves by their consumption of guns, gasoline and corn-syrup anusburgers. The president was a blue-blooded Yale (and Harvard!) man who successfully acted like a moronic Texan suburban cowboy who was always either giggling over his ability to execute retarded people or crying about Jesus. A once smart nation seemed to be operated entirely from shoddily constructed stucco megachurches on the exurban fringe of the world's ugliest sunbelt sprawl. It was depressing, but it was also probably the peak of all that awful bullshit. The "Nones"—people who follow no organized religion—hit 46 million adults in the United States last year.

Church attendance is plummeting as the Reagan generation of old people finally started falling off their Medicare scooters and into the grave. People under 30 are quickly abandoning the shallow and bizarre American theology of Jesus as No. 1 Patriot as they realize it's all nonsense and their prescription-drug-addicted homophobic racist parents are idiots who owe $275,000 on a $90,000 tract home a half-hour's drive from the nearest job.

Perhaps most striking is that one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation. When comparing this with previous generations under 30, there's a new wrinkle, says Greg Smith, a senior research at Pew. "Young people today are not only more religiously unaffiliated than their elders; they are also more religiously unaffiliated than previous generations of young people ever have been as far back as we can tell," Smith tells NPR Morning Edition co-host David Greene. "This really is something new."

More than half of U.S. congregations shrank during George W. Bush's second term, and have probably plummeted since then because of continuing death and disappointment. Overall, only 20% of congregations gained people, and conservative Protestant congregations had the biggest losses. And this study only goes as far as 2008, when the presidency was handed to a wine-drinking yuppie Hawaiian atheist who unconvincingly mentions God now and then, when he gets re-elected or has to deal with another gun massacre.

16 Comments / Post A Comment

Danzig! (#5,318)

The Christian Right has died many deaths since the early 1900s, and it will surely come again.

BadUncle (#153)

@Danzig! Now that they've won the calendar argument with the Mayans.

brianvan (#149)

I'm going to dissent on this one, because religious bullshit infects even the most liberal of governmental districts in this country. If Bloomberg feels it proper to steel-scrub bike lane paint off a Brooklyn street because the Satmars asked him to (and it's not even some other interest group's wish list item we're talking about here… it's a public safety construct!), and if people are still making it really hard to get abortions in various parts of country, then I can't say that the atheists are "winning". They're just losing more loudly. And considering that the Constitution itself is supposed to make governance a strictly divinity-free affair and the courts have upheld that many times over the years, they're losing rather ugly at this point.

Spirituality, in any form (whether the number of gods are 0, 1, or many), is inherent to the human experience and should not be repressed by extremists. It's not a binary choice between Christians and atheists. There are many innocuous ways to be spiritual, and many spiritual ways to be innocuous. Vocal atheists tend to be neither, and they try to claim the moral high ground, which is cute and charming for a bit, but ultimately misguided. If you don't want anyone to talk about it, best not to bring it up yourself. For starters.

@brianvan I'd agree with this. It's frustrating how it seems that faith in the US is caricatured as dichotomous choice between militant, gay-hating, biblical fundamentalism and militant, intellectually condescending atheism. Speaking as a former militant atheist twentysomething who has found a semblance of a meaningful "spiritual" life involving progressive Christianity at a liberal "mainline" church as a thirtysomething, it's important to point out that there's a vast territory between these two poles. Not all Christians subscribe to Jesus-as-No.-1-patriot thinking.

@brianvan I'm going to play devil's advocate here, because I think that the article has a point beneath its ridonkulous veneer that is true. For the first time a significant amount of young people are able to feel comfortable saying that they don't belong to a church or a religion. And perhaps the numbers of unbelievers has always been that high, but due to a culture that enforced the notion that one must believe in something (preferably Christian) or else was morally suspect and the inability to talk with others about ones doubts, because others might not have such doubts in that area, the numbers of people willing to say 'no religion' was smaller. That is a significant cultural shift.

@happymisanthrope It is absolutely significant, and to my lights, a welcome development from an ecumenical/secularist point of view. Despite the annoying cliché of "spiritual-but-not-religious," I'm inclined to hope that the rise of "Nones" is perhaps indicative of a generation willing to approach questions of faith/non-faith with an independent scrutiny instead of a kind of traditionalist tribalism.

Werner Hedgehog (#11,170)

I think that religion will persist as long as it makes a convenient starting point for ingroup/outgroup labeling.

BadUncle (#153)

Hey, you're not mocking Boulé's "L'Anus Doux Rôtis" on a bed of wilted Utica Greens, are you?

CraisinHell_a (#238,657)

more religiously unaffiliated than previous generations

Well we're also among the most *distracted* generation, as well. I kind of feel for the missionaries these days. Hard to preach the Word effectively if you can't hold the subject's attention longer than 10 seconds.

@CraisinHell_a Except that the majority of children are born to parents of some faith, and will most likely have spent many a Sunday/Saturday morning at a religious ceremony of some kind. I think that for the first time it's been acceptable to leave your faith and to not find your standing in the community diminished.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

Ken should clearly upgrade to a Ferrari of doubt from his current tricycle of doubt, based on this post.

@Murgatroid That exchange has been stuck in my mind for the last day or so. I kind of love this metaphor.

PoignancySelz (#238,693)

@Murgatroid The fucker drives a Prius — and is proud. go figure.

gfrblxt (#11,113)

Is it "irony" that the ad I see right above this article is from Liberty University?

danjohnson (#246,647)

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mastercommentaa (#248,063)

Only a decade ago, it seemed horrifyingly certain that the United States was the exclusive realm of screeching old white people who defined themselves by their consumption of guns, gasoline and corn-syrup anusburgers.youtube

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