Is America losing faith? Atheism on the rise but still in the shadows


At first glance, the group of scruffy-looking students could be attending a meeting of any old debating club, but as they begin to speak it soon becomes clear that they all share the same secret.


While there are people that claim America will become less religious over time, there are people that claim America may become more religious such as Gallup editor Frank Newport who wrote a book which was published in 2012 called ‘God is alive and well.’

Professor of Politics at Birbeck College, Eric Kauffman wrote an article called, ‘The Future Will Be More Religious and Conservative Than You Think’ in 2012:

My emphases

3 Reasons America May Become More Religious

While there has been much talk about the rise of secularism in America recently, the trend may not continue. Here are three reasons demographic and polling experts predict America may become more religious.


With the retirements of baby boomers and a decrease in the fertility rate, there will be more older Americans and fewer younger Americans in the future. Additionally, people tend to become more religious as they become older. Because of this, according to Frank Newport, editor in chief for Gallup, the increase in the average age of Americans will likely lead to an increase in the average religiosity of Americans.


Foreign-born Latinos living in the United States are 11 percentage points more likely than the general population (69 to 58 percent) to say that religion is very important in their life, according to a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center.

Additionally, a recent study by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity found that religious adherents will grow as a proportion of the world’s population in the future. The non-religious have already declined as a proportion of the world’s population, from 18 percent in 1970 to 12 percent in 2010. That trend is expected to continue and reach 10 percent by 2020.

Together, these studies suggest that as the United States continues to welcome new immigrants, the proportion of the population that is religious will increase as well.

Birth Rate

Those who are more religious have a higher birth rate than those who are non-religious. Plus, the “retention rate” is lower for the non-religious than the religious. This means that someone who grew up in a secular household is more likely to reject their parents’ religious views and become religious than someone who grew up in a religious household will become secular. Over time, this “birth rate gap” means that Americans will, on average, become more religious over time.

Professor’s Eric Kaufmann, of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and Vegard Skirbekk and Ann Goujon, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis’ World Population Program, looked at this issue in “Secularism, Fundamentalism, or Catholicism? The Religious Composition of the United States to 2043,” published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Based upon birth rates and immigration, the authors believe the largest increase among religious groups will be Hispanic Catholics, which they estimate will increase from 10 to 18 percent of the U.S. population by 2043. They expect the proportion of the population that is secular to increase in the short term, because they are younger, on average, than other religious groups, but they will quickly be overwhelmed due to their low birth rate after peaking sometime before 2043.


They numbers that profess being religious might rise, but will their actions reflect a life of faith?

That is the real issue I see. Religiosity is now kind of ambiguous as far as how it impacts society. By that I mean that being religious does not mean that people follow a similar moral code. There are plenty of people who believe in God and the sacrifice of Christ who then loudly champion abortion, gay marriage, accept adultery and fornication and dozens of other societal ills.


it is very very clear that our culture is become more secular even practicing Christians are more secular than ever before.


Eric Kauffman is likely correct not only for the reasons he wrote about but also because Americans, atheists included, have a parallel contemporary religion-- the faith in progress and growth. This parallel religion is the religion of both the left and right and often takes precedence over our primary religions. Over time as growth slows and faith in progress dwindles there will be what, John Michael Greer refers to, a “still-nascent second religiosity.” I believe that Christianity in general and Catholicism will be a large part of the second religiosity.


Not surprising. I’ve always thought America was going down this route, that is to say, not embracing religion and being more open about atheism.


This isn’t a surprise to me, as a young person I can see the trend of active atheism on the rise, but what’s on a greater rise? Indifference in general when it comes to God & religion. It is my view that parents and other responsible for education in the faith need to incorporate a big part of it to instilling in younger people the arguments in favor of the existence of God, familiarizing them with atheist objections, and theist responses to those objections. In this day and age when young people can get on the internet and converse with other people around the world, one persuasive atheist in a chat room or forum, could push an under informed Catholic in the direction of atheism. It seems to me that the devout atheists tend to know their stuff, just as devout Catholics tend to know their stuff, it’s that big middle where advances on either side seem to be made. The young person who was raised in the faith, but didn’t have adequate instruction in it and wasn’t prepared for the objections of non-believers might be at great risk to fall into atheism from this perspective.


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