Saturday, September 30, 2023

Religion In A Post-Republic America: The Decline of Christianity?


When the populace begins to distrust the institutions upon which society is built, the time is not long off when there will be some sort of change, possible violent or not, but there's little doubt that significant change is on the way. According to several recent polls, trust in our key institutions are at record lows with little data to indicate any significant improvement.

The most fundamental institution affecting Americans is religion. In the preceding generations, one could argue the society, and especially the family unit, revolved around organized religion. According to a Gallup poll, just 32% of Americans said they had a great deal or a lot of trust in religion. 36% said that had "some" confidence while 33% had little or none.

According to the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, some 70% to 84% of all churches are seeking a decline in membership. A Pew survey conducted two years ago indicated that the fastest growing religious category in the U.S. was "none". The report also said that if "unaffiliated" was a religion, it would be the largest in the United States.  If the present trend continues, it will reach a de facto majority status by 2070.

However, among those who hold to some sort of faith, non-dogmatic "spiritualism" comprises the largest chunk of the unaffiliated. Of those who adhere to dogmatic Christian religious institution, the Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons are the fasting growing. The largest growing non-Christian religious institution in the United States is Islam. By 2040, Islam is expected to be the second largest religious institution in America.

As an aside, Mormonism is on track to become the largest Christian religion, the Churches of Christ, Assemblies of God, and the Catholic Church are the runners up. It's worth noting that all three of the Protestant churches and the Catholic churches are considered socially conservative although most are registered Democrat, leaving about one third registered Republican.

Liberal churches on the other hand are showing the fastest decline in membership. Churches regarded as being "liberal" or "progressive", some of which include the United Churches of Christ, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and the Methodists. This is most notably due to their stance on issues like gay marriage and LGBQT rights, abortion, and women in the pulpit. 

The massive increase in immigrants from Latin America as well as Africa and Asia will spur the growth for the Catholic Church in the United States. Whether they will continue to register Democrat while remaining socially conservative remains to be seen. 56% are registered Democrat while 28% are Independent and 14% are Republican, although many are switching to Independent. 

Incidentally, the majority of immigrants---61%---are settling in just five states, Texas, Florida, California, New York and New Jersey. It's worth noting that four of these, New York, Texas, Florida, and California, also have the highest number of Electoral College votes which, in our antiquated "winner-take-all" electoral system, determines the winner of the Presidency and not the popular vote. 

Globally, by 2050 there will be approximately the same number of Muslims as there are Christians. In India, which now has the largest population of any nation, Hinduism will remain the majority religion but not by much. Islam will make up a large minority. In fact, because of the large Indian population, by 2050, there will be more Muslims just in India than in all of Indonesia. In Europe, Muslims will comprise at least 10% of the total population with the majority living in Western Europe.

Buddhism will hold its hold globally and remain about the same size, although its number will grow in the United States. The majority of Buddhists in America are converts, with the majority being white and former Protestant. By 2050, Buddhism will be the 10th largest population group by religion. Buddhism tend to lean Democrat in significant numbers.  

While Judaism, which is predominantly Left leaning in the U.S., will likely grow worldwide, it will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion in the United States. That honor, as stated above, will go to Islam. Politically, however, it will make little difference since they both tend to vote Democrat  with 68% of Muslims and 64% of Jews being registered Democrat. 

It's worth mentioning that while agnostics, atheists, and Humanist currently make up a significant segment of the "unaffiliated" in the United States (as well as in France and Germany), their numbers are projected to decline globally. Folk religion and neo-paganism (such as native African, Nordic and Wiccan)  will also continue to enjoy a resurgence globally, especially in the United States, although their numbers will not keep pace with the growing world population and thus their overall percentages will decline.

In our increasingly technological and sterile world, you would think that religion everywhere would be in decline. Various polls, however, show that the majority of Americans side with religion over science. In fact, just 29% of those polled by Pew in a 2019 study said they would always or most always trust science over religion. 40% of Americans believe solely in Creationism while 33% believe in evolution under the direction of a divine influence or plan. Note too that this percentage is fairly consistent globally among Christians and non-Christians religions that follow some form of established dogma.

So, what's the future of religion, particularly Christianity, in the United States? In 1990, 90% of all Americans identified as Christian. By 2050, that number is expected to be 54%, and within 50 years, it's expected to be just 46% while those who identify as secular will rise from around 30% now to 52% by then. Liberal leaning churches will decline, with many closing their doors for good.

The largest non-Christian religion will be Islam, replacing Judaism for the first time, and smaller size congregations will gradually replace the mega-church (which are often half jokingly referred to as "Six Flags over Jesus" or "Churchmarts"). Many services in the future will take place in private residences, harkening back to early Christianity when services were often led by women who were in charge of the home. 

Christianity will also likely be more racially and ethnically diverse than at any time in American history. Services conducted in multiple languages along with a sharing of cultures.  They will also likely be conservative, creating possibly a new schism in the form and function of Christianity itself. 

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The fasting growing US religious affiliation? 'None', poll says

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections2010 - 2050

Modeling the Future of Religion in America

U.S. Religious Groups and their political leanings

What is the Future of Religion in America?

The Future of Liberal Christianity

Is There a Future For Progressive Christianity in America?





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