What has changed about religion that drives Americans away from it?

Credit: Courtesy of The National Cathedral

More Americans Than Ever Are Abandoning Religion

March 20, 2017

Americans are fleeing religion in record numbers.

According to the Atlantic, though the majority of Americans still say they believe in God, the number who "rejected any religious affiliation" has grown from 6 percent in 1992 to 22 percent in 2014. Among millennials, those numbers are even more dramatic: 35 percent say they are not affiliated with any organized religion.

What has pushed Americans away from the church? Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price said it was a combination of Americans' disillusionment with the way churches have handled social issues and that the church has not adapted to better fit into a 21st-century lifestyle. 

"There's a number of challenges the church does not speak up or atone for or is honest about," Price said, referring to the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and the slowness of many established churches to recognize changes of public opinion on social issues like same-sex marriage.

"[There's] the notion of hypocrisy, the notion of moral failures, the notion of accountability," he said.

Monroe added that Americans have become more skeptical of institutions generally, which includes religious institutions.

"We're very much anti-institution because of the baggage and inability to change as society changes," she said.

There are practical factors pushing Americans away from the church as well. Monroe pointed out that while Americans once turned to churches to satisfy their need for community, now they can find and form communities online.

"Church was this place we could convene to have community and be kept up to date about what was going on in our community and in the world, [now] technology and computers have done that," she said.

Price said churches have also failed to adapt to Americans' changing schedules.

"The model of church comes out of an agricultural agrarian economy and culture," he explained. "The reason why we meet on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. on tradition is because by then you could have gone out and fed the livestock and plowed. We haven't moved away from that model."

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