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Eldorado

Only 47% of Americans belong to a house of worship

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Eldorado

'Allergic reaction to US religious right' fueling decline of religion, experts say

Fewer than half of Americans belong to a house of worship, a new study shows, but religion – and Christianity in particular – continues to have an outsize influence in US politics, especially because it is declining faster among Democrats than Republicans.

Just 47% of the US population are members of a church, mosque or synagogue, according to a survey by Gallup, down from 70% two decades ago – in part a result of millennials turning away from religion but also, experts say, a reaction to the swirling mix of rightwing politics and Christianity pursued by the Republican party.

Full story at MSN: Link

U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time

Gallup survey

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papageorge1

I'm actually surprised it's as high as 47%. That number must include a lot of very weak affiliations.

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OverSword

That many?

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Stiff

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Mr Walker
Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, eight bits said:

That headline doesn't emerge organically from the data presented by Gallup in your other link,

https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx

At least among the varieties of Christianity (the category that has its outlets all over the place in my neck of the woods), whatever floats your boat politically, there's likely a congregation near you where you'll comfortably fit in.

I think the Gallup people might have an insight worth thinking about: religious preference is declining in the USA. In the absence of a preference for one flavor over another, where is the incentive for someone making a membership-level commitment to one?

Lack of preference seems to me a (partial, but not tiny) triumph of secularism. Seriously? Americans in 2021 are going to choose to go to one church because it says its bread is Jesus, as opposed to the church down the street which says its bread represents Jesus? To say nothing of the church another block away which tells people that the bread isn't the point; Jesus's message is to come together in fellowship.

In other places, and other times, people have killed and died for the differences among those three perspectives. Not so much here and not at all recently. That's a good thing in my opinion. It's progress, and progress we seculars deserve some credit for.

Screw politics.

Indeed it is  partly a decline in secularism  

However, it is more complex than that, as it reflects wider social changes eg break up of neighbourhoods, communities and families which reduces  attachment  to traditional   behaviours .

Secondly, there is a less rigid connection to a particular religion, with people tending to "shop around" for a "best personal fit", as they do for all things these days

Lastly, it is a function of our busy world.

In Australia, at least, attendance a t football matches and racing carnivals is  also declining, (well before the effects of covid)  in part because of media coverage/availability of high quality broadcasts , but in part because of increasing demands on our time, and the diversity and complexity of a modern life. It was "easy"  50 years ago to set aside a Sunday for church, and a Saturday to take the family to the football (or baseball)  It is much harder to do so today. 

Edited by Mr Walker
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Liquid Gardens
9 hours ago, eight bits said:

That headline doesn't emerge organically from the data presented by Gallup in your other link,

Yea that seems to emerge from the reference to 'experts' only one of which is mentioned in the MSN article and who just so happens to be hawking a book.  I find the bestest 'studies' are only revealed in popular books; screw that bothersome input-from-your-peers nonsense.

9 hours ago, eight bits said:

At least among the varieties of Christianity (the category that has its outlets all over the place in my neck of the woods), whatever floats your boat politically, there's likely a congregation near you where you'll comfortably fit in.

Sure but that's if someone gets that far.  If someone's predominant exposure to Christianity is through the religious right and if someone finds those messages repulsive, then why on earth would they be curious enough to look into it let alone want to be affiliated with it?  Is there such a thing worth mentioning as the 'religious left', is there something in their political interactions that would incentivize someone not to be affiliated with Christianity?  I agree that the data doesn't emerge organically but it doesn't seem to conflict either.  There are other explanations, but if correct this theory does partly explain why the decline amongst Democrats is twice the percentage points of Republicans, right?

9 hours ago, eight bits said:

Screw politics.

Screw religion for even getting involved in it. That ain't politics' fault.

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Hammerclaw

I'm in awe there's still almost a hundred and sixty million that still belong to organized congregations. Of course, that doesn't factor in the number of believers, outside of those congregations. I don't belong to a church, either.

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Scudbuster

 For those not applying any critical thinking to the situation at hand -  pretty much the state of things.....it's simply one big trap.

I'm pleased to see the numbers declining. 

Free Thinker is what?.jpg

Trap...!.jpeg

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eight bits
Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

If someone's predominant exposure to Christianity is through the religious right and if someone finds those messages repulsive, then why on earth would they be curious enough to look into it let alone want to be affiliated with it? 

I live in "purple" country (neither consistenly red nor blue), and the religious of riotously varied perspectives are vocal and visible hereabouts. Assuming that there is some political message that you don't find repulsive, then there's a good chance religious figures who hold that opinion will come to your attention without much search effort (interviewed in the media, or those signboards that churches have outside. raindow flags or all-blue stars and stripes draped on the building...).

If somebody isn't interested in religion in the first place, then I'd bet that that's why they aren't a member of a religious congregation, not revulsion at politics or at a specific political viewpoint. The Gallup analysis interested me (apart from being a geek) by going a step deeper: even if you're interested in religion, but don't prefer any one specific brand overall, then you're lacking one major incentive to commit to any one specific brand. Logic + data = something to think about.

9 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

Is there such a thing worth mentioning as the 'religious left', is there something in their political interactions that would incentivize someone not to be affiliated with Christianity?

When the plague lifts, come to Boston-Cambridge sometime. Actually, quite a few college-university towns nationwide have staunchly left-wing churches, apparently even in red states. (Christians have always enjoyed feeling persecuted :ph34r: ).

ETA - sorry, had to break off to name a kitten ... a shaman's work is never done.

Quote

There are other explanations, but if correct this theory does partly explain why the decline amongst Democrats is twice the percentage points of Republicans, right?

Assuming that the causal arrow points one way and not the other. Membership in a political party has many similarities to membership in a congregation or denomination. How welcome are people of identifiable religious affiliation (membership in a congregation or denomination) among Democrats as compared with among Republicans? (Why is Mitt Romney a Republican? Would a devout Mormon have won the Democrats' presidential nomination anytime this century? Even been a contender?)

Quote

Screw religion for even getting involved in it. That ain't politics' fault.

Mmm, not fault, but nature. Politics is a vehicle for people to express, and ultimately enforce, their values and preferences. In a democracy, politics takes its electorate as it finds it. As Churchill mentioned, that's a very bad form of government except when compared with all the others.

Edited by eight bits
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Liquid Gardens
1 hour ago, eight bits said:

If somebody isn't interested in religion in the first place, then I'd bet that that's why they aren't a member of a religious congregation, not revulsion at politics or at a specific political viewpoint.

I think I'm referring more to how someone arrives at 'the first place'.  Our affiliation and attendance numbers have been on the decline for a while, pretty clearly being driven by younger people.  What are younger people's exposure to Christianity in 2021?  Dunno, extremely variable I'd imagine.  I grew up in a non-religious household, my positive exposure to Christianity came through other relatives who were devout, but I don't know the extent to which younger people today have that exposure.  Today in the US, is there any aspect of any religion here that gets as much exposure and discussion as the religious right and their political positions?  If a younger person is concerned about LGBTQ rights for instance, are the political positions and general attitudes conveyed by the religious right towards that subject going to make Christianity more appealing?  Yes in reality Christianity is more than that and there are a ton of different denominations with different positions, but if you're carrying the idea, 'Christians in general are against civil rights', as the most you know about Christianity, as that is what you hear most about that religion, why would someone bother even investigating those other varieties. 

1 hour ago, eight bits said:

Actually, quite a few college-university towns nationwide have staunchly left-wing churches, apparently even in red states. (Christians have always enjoyed feeling persecuted :ph34r: )

Ha, agreed.  My point though was that I can see why the religious right would turn off people concerning Christianity if that was your primary source of knowledge concerning it, given some of the positions of the younger people being exposed to it.  I know there are left-wing churches, I'm just not sure if or why their political positions would lead someone to think there is a repulsive teaching within Christianity itself and thus turn off people from that religious affiliation.  You don't really have to look too far in the Bible to find where the right wing anti-gay stuff comes from, and thus I can see a younger person associating that with Christianity and wanting nothing to do with it.  What's the counterbalance on the left if we were to assume that this is just 'religion' or 'nature' and not related to specific politics; are young conservatives looking at the Christian left's position that the bible may not be inerrant or are too lenient towards gays and being turned off from affiliating with Christianity in general?  Possibly, just never heard of it.

1 hour ago, eight bits said:

Mmm, not fault, but nature. Politics is a vehicle for people to express, and ultimately enforce, their values and preferences. In a democracy, politics takes its electorate as it finds it.

Both of your sentences are using 'politics' as the subject though, not 'religion'; no surprise that politics wants to entangle itself with religious groups, but there's no requirement or necessity that religion return the favor.  Your kingdom is not of this world, render unto Caesar, you will be persecuted for your beliefs - I'll stick with 'fault'.  Something being part of our 'nature' doesn't make it exclusive from 'fault', it just partly explains where the fault came from.

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spartan max2
55 minutes ago, Liquid Gardens said:

Our affiliation and attendance numbers have been on the decline for a while, pretty clearly being driven by younger people.

You might not be in a young "hip church".

A few of my friends are religious, and one of my siblings and they all go to what I call young churches. I went a few times with them before. It's a different style.

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eight bits
49 minutes ago, Liquid Gardens said:

Something being part of our 'nature' doesn't make it exclusive from 'fault', it just partly explains where the fault came from.

Fair enough, but I meant more its (politics') nature, not ours (human nature). Wherever two or more are gathered, a politician will show up. Religion and democracy will get tangled.

Spartan brings up a good point, though

9 minutes ago, spartan max2 said:

You might not be in a young "hip church".

Christianity is adaptable, and not to go all epidemiological (a way that the plague forces us to think, and Dawkins pioneered with his meme concept), but America is one "mutation" away from another Great Awakening.

I'm not saying it will be easy (and if I knew now what the mutation will be ... ), but "immunity" is acquired by exposure. I'd be a lot more confident about "young people" and their secularism if I was also confident they really knew what it was that they were walking away from. IF it is the the stereotype that Jesus was a right-wing gun nut with a confederate flag mounted on his pick-up, then what happens when they discover that yes, there is a religious left, and a religious center, too, for that matter?

 

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spartan max2
36 minutes ago, eight bits said:

Fair enough, but I meant more its (politics') nature, not ours (human nature). Wherever two or more are gathered, a politician will show up. Religion and democracy will get tangled.

Spartan brings up a good point, though

Christianity is adaptable, and not to go all epidemiological (a way that the plague forces us to think, and Dawkins pioneered with his meme concept), but America is one "mutation" away from another Great Awakening.

I'm not saying it will be easy (and if I knew now what the mutation will be ... ), but "immunity" is acquired by exposure. I'd be a lot more confident about "young people" and their secularism if I was also confident they really knew what it was that they were walking away from. IF it is the the stereotype that Jesus was a right-wing gun nut with a confederate flag mounted on his pick-up, then what happens when they discover that yes, there is a religious left, and a religious center, too, for that matter?

 

I personally think religion will be around for a while, but changed. 

But I believe at it changes it will become less rigid. Which is good.

 

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Liquid Gardens
1 hour ago, eight bits said:

Christianity is adaptable

Agreed, and I agree with spartan's note, but the fact that there are younger and more 'open' churches, and have been for a while, I assume has already been factored into the Gallop results.

1 hour ago, eight bits said:

I'd be a lot more confident about "young people" and their secularism if I was also confident they really knew what it was that they were walking away from. 

I know what you're saying with your first sentence but not sure the extent to which it would then apply to everyone.  If one needs to know what other churches are teaching in order to know what's being walked away from, then very few people know that; there are simply too many churches to evaluate. 

Besides, who decides and defines 'what is being walked away from'.  I like HP Lovecraft's stories, a unique and clever genre of horror, but as I'm sure you know his racism is also quite well-known.  Not all of his stories include racist comments yet I'm not at all concerned that people don't really know what it is they are walking away from who don't want to read anything by him because of this. The reasons for why they are walking from all of his work are sufficient, and I think it partly applies even if we had a whole faction of Lovecraftians arguing that no, he wasn't really racist, just misinterpreted.  Like Jesus.  In the poll we're just talking about not affiliating with or becoming a church member, and sufficient bad word-of-mouth, no matter the accuracy, justifies and supports that lack of stated affiliation I think.  (and doesn't mean that they don't still consider themselves Christian; the poll is about people leaving established churches and affiliations, which doesn't preclude non-church-member Christian believers from praying in their closets as instructed).

1 hour ago, eight bits said:

IF it is the the stereotype that Jesus was a right-wing gun nut with a confederate flag mounted on his pick-up, then what happens when they discover that yes, there is a religious left, and a religious center, too, for that matter?

The discovery that some of the right-wing 'stereotype' (although it's debatable whether the anti-gay stuff is a mere 'stereotype') of Jesus is not the conception of Jesus held by other churches may be relevant to some, but it's not like it just cancels it out.  Especially since again, whatever messages the religious center and left are sending don't seem to be equal in volume, quantity, intensity, or attention to that of the religious right.  Thus some people will associate Christianity with things they see as very negative, and thus even if they later find that not all Christians believe that, they may want to still not join a church or affiliate with Christianity because of this negative connotation.  The weight that someone gives 'but not all Christians' seems to be solidly an evaluation that is up to them, there's no logical answer to how much that fact should factor in. Some people may just not want to be a church member and thus get looked at side-eyed by some who are aware of their membership because they'd feel the need to clarify that they are not against gay rights for instance and not like the right-wing stereotype that gets the press. That seems like a very logical reason for not wanting to have an affiliation, "lots of people who share this general affiliation argue this affiliation requires adherence to ideas I and others find repulsive", and agrees with our poll results, and again is reasoning and a reaction that I have trouble equally sourcing from religious center/left viewpoints.  Sure, another approach a Christian could take is to battle the right-wing stereotype and try to correct it and champion that it is their Christianity that is the true message of Jesus, but there's no onus on anyone to do that; the established left-center churches don't seem to be making much headway in that so don't see any reason for an individual believer.

I think that if you consider yourself to be a Christian but are opposed to the ideas of a large popular segment of Christianity that it is justifiable to answer the question, 'are you affiliated with Christianity' to be 'no'.  It is entirely acceptable to answer a question based on, or fearing, the definition of 'Christianity' as held by the listener, whether that definition is 'justified' or not, and not necessarily based on what Christianity is defined as for you personally.

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spartan max2

This part might be interesting to the discussion.

 

Quote

The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.

 

As would be expected, Americans without a religious preference are highly unlikely to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, although a small proportion -- 4% in the 2018-2020 data -- say they do. That figure is down from 10% between 1998 and 2000.

 

Given the nearly perfect alignment between not having a religious preference and not belonging to a church, the 13-percentage-point increase in no religious affiliation since 1998-2000 appears to account for more than half of the 20-point decline in church membership over the same time.

 

Most of the rest of the drop can be attributed to a decline in formal church membership among Americans who do have a religious preference

So basically, there are a chunk of believers who are no longer going to church. Depending on how Gallup is defining "membership"

 

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Xeno-Fish

Religion and politics are both illusions, a different type of evil. Both of which seek to control the perspective of its adherents. May the flying spaghetti monster have mercy on us all.

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joc
23 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

Is there such a thing worth mentioning as the 'religious left', is there something in their political interactions that would incentivize someone not to be affiliated with Christianity?

No.  There is no such thing as the religious left.  Yes there is something in their political interactions that would incentivize someone not to be affiliated with Chrisitianity...that would be their infatuation with things Socialist/Communist.

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psyche101
9 minutes ago, joc said:

No.  There is no such thing as the religious left. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_left#:~:text=The Christian left is a,and uphold a social gospel.

9 minutes ago, joc said:

Yes there is something in their political interactions that would incentivize someone not to be affiliated with Chrisitianity...that would be their infatuation with things Socialist/Communist.

If you don't subscribe to religion you're communist?

Is that what you actually just said?

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Sherapy
On 4/5/2021 at 9:16 AM, eight bits said:

That headline doesn't emerge organically from the data presented by Gallup in your other link,

https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx

At least among the varieties of Christianity (the category that has its outlets all over the place in my neck of the woods), whatever floats your boat politically, there's likely a congregation near you where you'll comfortably fit in.

I think the Gallup people might have an insight worth thinking about: religious preference is declining in the USA. In the absence of a preference for one flavor over another, where is the incentive for someone making a membership-level commitment to one?

Lack of preference seems to me a (partial, but not tiny) triumph of secularism. Seriously? Americans in 2021 are going to choose to go to one church because it says its bread is Jesus, as opposed to the church down the street which says its bread represents Jesus? To say nothing of the church another block away which tells people that the bread isn't the point; Jesus's message is to come together in fellowship.

In other places, and other times, people have killed and died for the differences among those three perspectives. Not so much here and not at all recently. That's a good thing in my opinion. It's progress, and progress we seculars deserve some credit for.

Screw politics.

Amen brother. :wub:

 

 

 

 

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Hammerclaw
2 hours ago, psyche101 said:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_left#:~:text=The Christian left is a,and uphold a social gospel.

If you don't subscribe to religion you're communist?

Is that what you actually just said?

The majority of the world's atheists live in Communist and former Communists countries. Though their numbers are increasing, elsewhere, countries with large numbers of atheists have lower birthrates than mostly religious countries and are being outbred.

Demographics of atheism - Wikipedia

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psyche101
12 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

The majority of the world's atheists live in Communist and former Communists countries. Though their numbers are increasing, elsewhere, countries with large numbers of atheists have lower birthrates than mostly religious countries and are being outbred.

Demographics of atheism - Wikipedia

I understand atheists are the most suppressed people for valid views, but I really don't think Joc was referring to birth rates.

He said

Quote

something in their political interactions that would incentivize someone not to be affiliated with Chrisitianity...that would be their infatuation with things Socialist/Communist.

Politics mean that non Christian people are communist now? 

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Hammerclaw
1 hour ago, psyche101 said:

I understand atheists are the most suppressed people for valid views, but I really don't think Joc was referring to birth rates.

He said

Politics mean that non Christian people are communist now? 

Religion doesn't have to be Christianity. The majority of the religious are non Christian. The vast majority of atheists live in communist and former communist countries, where atheism was central to the prevailing political dogma. That's how communism and atheism became inextricably intertwined in the psyche of Christians, and how politics and religion became bedfellows in the Twentieth Century. If you don't like the connection to Communism, then you should understand why the vast majority of modern Christians might feel they are undeservedly linked to religious intolerance and religious wars of past centuries. 

 

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psyche101
4 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

Religion doesn't have to be Christianity. The majority of the religious are non Christian. The vast majority of atheists live in communist and former communist countries, where atheism was central to the prevailing political dogma. That's how communism and atheism became inextricably intertwined in the psyche of Christians, and how politics and religion became bedfellows in the Twentieth Century. If you don't like the connection to Communism, then you should understand why the vast majority of modern Christians might feel they are undeservedly linked to religious intolerance and religious wars of past centuries. 

 

But that not what joc is saying as far as I understand. That's why I asked him 

I read his post as saying if you're not Christian you're a left wing communist driven by politics isn't he? 

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