The Huffington Post had a good article a couple of months ago about the decline of religion: Religion Among Americans Hits Low Point, As More People Say They Have No Religious Affiliation: Report.
It’s important to point out, I think, that there is only a slight increase in atheism. It’s not so much that people are losing their faith, it is more that they are leaving organized religion. This is not a surprise to me based on church scandals or the change in attitude among younger generations. The old “fire and brimstone” teachings are less effective than they were during the Puritan Era. Yet spirituality is still important to most people, I believe, so you won’t see the majority of Americans abandoning the believe in God anytime soon.
What I found most interesting about the report was that 40% of liberal respondents claimed they have no religion versus only 9% of conservatives. I believe that you would find similar results to respondents that identify themselves as secular. Secularism is too often associated with anti-religious belief systems by right-wing pundits and social conservatives. I think this does a disservice to the benefits of the secular perspective. It is not a movement of anti-religious persons, it is a movement to separate religion from government and philosophy. The founding fathers used secularism as a tool to give all Americans the freedom of religion and freedom from it. This is perhaps one of our most important freedoms and it makes sense that it is included as part of the first amendment.
The animosity between some Christians and Atheists can become too divisive. I feel that debating religion is a waste of time since in most cases there is not going to be a consensus reached or changing minds. If you believe strongly in something, it is extremely difficult for another person to change that belief. What unfortunately often results in a debate of religion versus atheism is hurt feelings and people taking offense. Either that or lots of shouting and name calling.
The problem as I see it is people who take offense to atheism or religion. I am not offended by a person who believes in God or prays. I can respect that believe just as I would hope that religious people can respect my belief that religion is superstition. We should be able to be mature enough to acknowledge that it isn’t really important if everyone agrees with our own beliefs. It’s like being offended because someone didn’t say “Merry Christmas” during the holidays. I’m not offended when people wish me a “Merry Christmas” even though I’m not a Christian.
Secularism is something that we all should agree on no matter if you have faith or not. It inspired the concept of free religion that prevents government from imposing religion or non-religion upon us. I do think that sometimes atheists are unnecessarily mean towards religion, but it also works both ways. If you are a Christian and you really want to know what I think about religion, you may think I hold an offensive view, but do not begrudge others who are religious so long as they chose to be religious. We all have to figure out who we are and I don’t want to belittle anyone’s journey. I can respect that people find value in religion, so you should be able to respect that I do not find value in religion. Below is a short article that I believe does a good job explaining what secularism really is.
- Understanding Secularism (atheistrev.com)