Seeing the US from the outside like me you would have noticed a big change in what the perception of reality is there. In the 80s there were discussions, in the early 90s if it did not happen on TV it did not happen and by the end 90s nobody quoted any books anymore but some TV show. Yes, a lot has changed since I was a kid. Even the perception of what is going on in the world. We have the CSI effect, a perception that society is getting more violent (most accentuated among those who watch hours and hours of crime shows) while in effect violent crime has been decreasing since the 90s. And all that seems to lead to just one end: more people slipping off the rocker (probably paranoia driven) and more people needing to pack iron until they can't walk anymore to feel "safe".
And that religion changes nothing about that is easily observed in the Bible Belt, that is on average just as violent as the more "progressive" areas.