Leaving Church Behind

Faith Matters in US society

Leaving Church Behind - Faith Matters in US society

In 1990, 7 percent of Americans claimed they were not a part of any organized religion. That number has now jumped to 17 percent, thanks to an increase of political associations within the religious sector. In a Faith Matters national survey of 3,000 Americans, authors Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell found that many U.S. citizens are choosing where to spend Sunday morning based on their political views. It is the prominent association between religion and conservative politics that has provoked the recoil of moderates and progressives from religious affiliations, and has proven especially influential on America’s youth. Today, 25 to 30 percent of Americans in their teens and twenties claim they have no religious affiliation, a number that reflects this generation’s overwhelming preference for the left on most social issues, particularly, homosexuality, clashing with major religious leaders who continue to push for the right. “Increasingly, young people saw religion as intolerant, hypocritical, judgmental and homophobic,” writes authors Putnam and Campbell, “If being religious entailed political conservatism, they concluded, religion was not for them.” Life habits tend to take shape and set in early, meaning that if more than one-quarter of today’s youth are beginning adult life with no religious commitment, religious observance is likely to continue diminishing in the coming decades—unless, innovative religious leaders start offering a more moderate message.

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