On Tuesday, the following report was released from the Pew Research Center:
“Nones” on the Rise
One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation
“The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).
This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.
However, a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’ (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.
With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.”
Without thinking too extensively or deeply, the Intramuralist can easily conjure up a spontaneous ‘amen.’ Religious organizations have focused too much on rules and have been too involved in politics. Religious organizations haven’t always been good at communicating the grace and forgiveness that accompanies the faith, and…
… but wait…
Not all “religious organizations” nor “religions” actually contain a doctrine of grace. And regarding this massive involvement – this too tangled up in politics idea – not all religions respect a government separated from faith.
Fascinatingly, therefore, is the study of religion. Only through objective study do we see that in Islam, for example, there exists no separation of church and state; that’s why many remain legitimately concerned about the rise of Islamic governance, as witnessed by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Yet as we contrast the truths of Christianity, I see a call to respect both government and the faith. I also see massive, unparalleled amounts of grace called to be applied… given to us… exhorted to give to one another. Then arises a seemingly huge “a-Ha!” – observing that it’s typically some of the “religious” who are more unattractive than the actual “religion.”
Yet as I allow myself to think both more extensively and deeply about the Pew report, I find my “amen” quickly subsiding, unfortunately ceding to an instead, sobering sadness. One in five. That could be one person in our households. Two or three in our extended family. Five in our small business. The people that we meet on the street each day.
So I continue with objective analysis. It is then that I become uncomfortable with a promotion of government that in its embracing of constitutional adherence believes any mention of faith is inappropriate. In other words, I wonder if our government’s often strict separation – as increasingly evidenced in the judicial branch – has swung the pendulum of moderation so far the other way that now not only is there separation between church and state, but we are to give no mention… no credit… no even remote acknowledgement that the God of the universe might actually have something to do with what’s happening on planet Earth.
And we wonder why the “nones” are on the rise…
I don’t have to wonder too much more nor too extensively nor deeply. If as a nation, we cannot even mention the importance religion has played in this country, it’s no wonder we have trouble doing the same in our own lives.