The future of American religion is in the “none.” A recent published and publicized survey on religion depicts an undeniable trend in religious association in America. The religious landscape has many people embracing spirituality rather than a tradition religious brand. People are within their democratic right to embrace this form of religion. Some people in the survey refuse to associate with any religion as others make a transition from the traditional authoritative religions and move to “none.”
The survey indicates that those respondents on the “none” affiliation do so in a liberal political spectrum. The “none” has gained popularity in the 21st century as the rise of cultural wars becomes prominent due to the rise of Religious Right. The atheist takes advantage of the religious leaders that deceive and exploit the congregation in the ensuing battle. Some religious scholars question the rise whether it is a signal of a “Great Awakening” associated with a period of social and spiritual revolution due to revival outbursts in evangelism.
Some religious scholars cite that this trend has taken up immediately after American Revolution in 1800s to enable the expansion and diversifying of the urban cities paving way to cultural revolutions. Duncan (24) asserts that the rise of the “none” is a great cultural metamorphosis instead of “Great Awakening” that has an association of the revival Christian spirit as Americans make their way back to churches.
The current direction of religious associations is likely to reach to other frontiers other than go back to the traditional authoritative associations. The changes in the American religion depend on different factors that contribute to the metamorphosis.
In the present American culture, a huge majority of the people does not identify with any religion and this number continues to rise with a high percentage. According to Duncan (29), one-fifth of adults under the age of 30 in America do not have any religious affiliation. Statistics from the last five years display an increasing number from 15 percent to 20 percent (Duncan 29). A recent pollster shows that more than 15 million people proclaim as atheists and 35 million have no religious affiliations. The large group of Americans does not participate in religious activities in convectional measures such as low frequency in religious attendance as well as a less degree of importance to attach religion in one life.
Another related pollster to investigate the trends on religion and public life details those more than 46 million unaffiliated adults to religious associations (Duncan 21). From these population 68 percent believe in God, 21 percent proclaim to daily devotion and prayer, and at least a third of the population hold spiritual beliefs rather than religious (Lim et al. 596).
Most of the unaffiliated Americans perceive churches and religious institutions to strengthen the ties in the society and supporting the impoverished in the society. The unaffiliated proclaim that looking for a religion is not the main prerequisite. Most of the unaffiliated agree on the issue of concentration on money and power on the part of the religious organization (Lim et al. 596). In some instances, the religious organization tends to focus on the political dynamics taking place in a country.
The rise of the “none” is mainly due to generational replacement. Most of the adults under the age of 30 have no religious affiliations (Duncan 24). Most of the contemporary adults have the likelihood of unaffiliated that their seniors when they were at the similar stage. The generational difference is consistent with the gradual softening of the religious commitment since a modest number cite of attending church a few times while others doubt the existence of God.
Americans have a change of behavior in their connection with religion. For instance, in 2007, 60 percent of respondents in a survey proclaim that they never attend religious services while having a particular religious tradition (Duncan 24). In 2012, 50 percent of respondents proclaim never to attend a religious service while having a religious affiliation.
The trends indicate that the unaffiliated will continue to increase since the dominant culture rarely attends the services and most are willing to withdraw from their religious affiliations (Duncan 29). The religious unaffiliated are political liberals other than conservatives since they support abortion and same-sex marriage. The trends in religious affiliations show that as other religion organization register a decline in membership, the religious unaffiliated keep on rising.
The first factor that leads to the unprecedented change in religion is due to the rise of the hippie culture in the 1960s that play a key role in affecting the cultural and spirituality of Americans (Sensenig 335). Conversely, the Religious Right is a trajectory that translates to a new trend in religious association where the modern-day culture inclines on spirituality.
The contemporary culture applies spirituality in the issue of substance abuse; power to transform that has an association to rock music, and sexual freedom related issues. People in the 1960s have moved away from authoritative traditional associations to more spiritual fulfilling associations (Sensenig 335).
Similarly, the popular culture in America claims that spirituality is an enabler to derive wisdom, transcendence, morality, and guidance unlike the traditional institutions provision of these elements. In the present world, other initiatives have taken over the role of teaching such as internet, television, films, and literature since they are important as the sacred teachings of theology.
The popular culture in America derives its teaching and instruction from television shows such as, Harry Potter, Super Bowl, and reality television. The media and the entertainment scene provide Americans with moral teachings to affect their lives (Thomson-Deveaux 24). The organized religion is slowly losing ground in America due to some of the vibrant forces of the popular culture negated in the media, technological world, and the entertainment scene that work to shape the spiritual sensibilities and sacred values.
Generational replacement is an important factor to the growth of the religious unaffiliated. This is the gradual supplanting of the older generation by a new one. Some of the generation Xers and Baby Boomers have become more religious unaffiliated in the recent years leading this tend to the younger generation.
Most of the contemporary Americans are raised with no affiliation and this leads to the unprecedented growth of the “none.” The growth of the unaffiliated is due to the self-reported cases of atheist, agnostic, and “none.” In 2007, 38 percent of Americans seldom attend the religious services since they describe themselves as religious unaffiliated. The growth of the unaffiliated takes place in a wide variety of the demographic groups (Duncan 30).
The nation of America desires items that have spiritual importance such as consuming healthy diet to achieve health and spiritual nourishment. The contemporary world permits people to customize their choices to attain a spiritual balance (Sensenig 337). The democratic life in America encourages creativity, invention to depict a spiritual life and thereby creating a meaningful life.
Presently the world does not view one’s religiousness based on church attendance. In some schools, there is a restriction of children involving themselves in their religious events in schools since it violates the separation of the church and the state. The rise of the “none” will see people drastically forget religion, pastors, churches, and the sacred teachings (Duncan 30).
The convectional objects perceived as sacred in the traditional associations such as the cross to identify religious groups’ loose meaning. In the contemporary world, other objects provide spiritual opportunities such as meditation exercises, drum circles, and sports activities to express the popular culture. In the new world, religion unhinges from the traditional authorities and institutions.
The United States of America is currently experiencing a fundamental change in the society due to the demographics of the religious organizations. The recent academic interest in the religiously unaffiliated outlines a social-demographic pattern to claim no religion and seeks to explain the recent rise in “none.” Religious “none” is crucial in the construction of a holistic picture of the belief systems.
The National Election Survey provides quantitative data to indicate the number of people that claim no religion continues to increase and this trend is likely to continue in the future. Duncan (29) suggest that many people that occupy the premise of no religion category tend to retain traditional religious beliefs depict disenfranchised with the organized religion. The largest increase in the religious preference occurs between individuals that have liberal political identities.
Lim et al. (600) proposes that the alignment of the religious organization with the political right serves to alienate an increasing number of left-leaning religious individuals. Social factors tend to influence the choice to the claim of no religion with a primary focus with the socio-demographic attributes.
The relationship that concerns age associates the generational effect as senior Americans tend to follow the traditional religions. Sensenig (335) evidences on the higher levels of education to the increase in the level of no religion. The western religion pattern characterizes “none” in comparison to the rest of the country.
Thomson-Deveaux (35) claims that familiar traditional religion and socialization can affect the religious choice especially due to apostates. The familiar ties in the form of religious background with children can affect ones religious preference. The low levels of social obligation constitute crucial factors for one to proclaim as an atheist. Individuals’ dependant on social network with congruence of expectations depicts positive reinforcement due to their identities.
Religion inter-marriage leads to the likelihood of children being no religious affiliation especially where one spouse has no affiliation. The highest percentages of children that report no religious preference occur where both parents do not have any affiliation. The proportion of “none” rose in interfaith marriages especially one of the parent has no affiliation is substantially higher than the parents that regard religious affiliations. Parents act as agents of socialization to effect on their children.
There is a growing sense of more Americans to profess no religion preference today than in the past generation. As the older generation encounters replacement by the young generation, most of the young generation does not religion affiliations. The demographic trend accounts for at least 60 percent of the “none” as those described as agnostics and atheists have no particular religious affiliations (Sensenig 337). The Religious Right initiative has contributed to the political standards in the issue of religious preference. This legislation allows liberty for people to state their religious affiliations.
Duncan, Otis Dudley. "The Rise Of The Nones: A Paleostatisitical Inquiry:Part 1." Free Inquiry 24.1 (2003): 24-27.
Duncan, Otis Dudley. "The Rise Of The Nones: PART 2: A Paleostatistical Inquiry." Free Inquiry 24.2 (2004): 29-31.
Lim, Chaeyoon, Carol Ann MacGregor, and Robert D. Putnam. "Secular And Liminal: Discovering Heterogeneity Among Religious Nones." Journal for the Scientific Study Of Religion 49.4 (2010): 596-618.
Sensenig, Victor. "The Rise Of The "Nones": Does Education Explain The Decline In Religious Affiliation?" American Journal Of Education 119.3 (2013): 335-340.
Thomson-Deveaux, Amelia. "Rise Of The "Nones." American Prospect 24.5 (2013): 34-39