Why the “no religion” demographic is growing so fast
On October 17, 2012 At 1:32 pm
Responses : 5 Comments
It has become apparent that resistance toward organized religion is growing, and not just in the parts of the United States that one would expect. Overall, the number of persons who don't go to church or who are involved in religious organizations is rapidly gaining ground. So is the demographic that specifically identifies as atheist. In fact, a recent Pew survey, as reported by CNN, reveals that number of those who are religiously unaffiliated to be approximately 20% of the population. There are several reasons being attributed to this, including the religious right being responsible for part of this exodus.
Once a common reply from the religious right that unbelief and indifference to religion is "a phase of doubt” that can be overcome using conventional methods of indoctrination, the sheer numbers of those abandoning the pews make it obvious that the resistance to religion is more than a passing fancy. There has also been an increase in activism, as well as memberships in various non-sectarian organization. This is an indication that those who choose not to believe have grown resistant to being victims of discrimination by the factions of the Christian community who identify as "fundamentalists." This includes a large majority of the politically conservative.
Those who profess no religion are growing restless at being the least least trusted group of people in the country, and the push-back against the religious right was inevitable. This has been the case with most groups who have been marginalized for long periods of time. The very actions of the religious right have actually been a boon to the propagation of the numbers that are reflected in the above referenced survey. The ease at which comments, speeches, sermons, etc., gain wide exposure on the Internet, particularly in high-profile blogs and YouTube channels, has had a profound effect. The more acerbic and discriminatory rhetoric has not just alienated other believers, but has been instrumental in the increase of activism. This includes a more determined focus on social justice issues, as well as addressing constitutional violations of the First Amendment's separation clause.
Mainstream and progressive believers are now allying with unbelievers, thereby increasing the number of people who claim "no religion." These numbers are likely to dramatically increase in the years to come. When the rhetoric of the religious right reaches the point of saturation, it will result in even more people who are still lurking in anonymity to decide the safety of the closet is no longer an option. The desire to speak out and be counted will become irresistible to a wider spectrum of society, and this is why we are not only seeing a rise in the 'no religion' crowd, but also a rise in activism. A free society will bear only so much division before a paradigm change starts.
Dennis Diderot's, a French philosopher, art critic, and writer, who was a prominent person during the Enlightenment, once stated,
“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”
Religion is becoming a more and more fractured institution as denominations split into smaller sects and cults. As well, their messages are decreasing in relevance in a post-modern world. Many feel that religion has had its chance, and it has failed. With increasing regularity, the scientific community is not only debunking long-held religious beliefs, but is now exploring things like morality and ethics. Cognitive dissonance can carry a belief system only so long. Many who might have given up, thinking our species doomed to oblivion by a religious finger pushing that big red button may now have a renewed hope that we just might get out of this alive.