Jim Davis' and Michael Graham's The Great Dechurching: Who's Leaving, Why are They Going, and What Will it Take to Bring Them Back? is an insider's look at why so many people in the United States—40 million in the last 25 years—have stopped attending church. In this article, Vern Loomis argues that, much to the chagrin of religious pollsters, declining belief in religious doctrines is at least one of the major factors driving this exodus. Loomis raises a lot of important questions that, when one reads between the lines, suggest this alternative perspective of what might be compelling the exodus.
The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States forbids any law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and yet conservatives have spent centuries trying to do exactly that. Freedom of speech or of the press refer to the same thing—the ability voice beliefs or ideas, however unpopular, without fear of punishment for speaking up. As a governmental right, it was a slowly-won one that lies at the heart of democracy. The right to speak up is no more and no less than the right to think freely without arrest or prosecution. Haught surveys the history of censorship from suppressing heterodoxy and nonconfirmity to sexual censorship up through our present day era of religion-driven murder for saying or doing the "wrong" things.
At a time when brutal leaders ruled according to the divine right of kings and serfs approximated slaves, intolerance fostered by the union of church and state led to the execution or jailing of heretics representing a threat to state power. But more than three centuries ago, chiefly in England and France, an epoch now known as the Enlightenment broke forth, spawning ideas that later grew into what we now call modern liberalism. The Enlightenment roused a new way of thinking: a sense that all people should have some control over their lives, a voice in their own destiny. Absolute power of authorities—either on the throne or in the cathedral—was challenged. Reformers sought to improve society and benefit nearly everyone using human reason and the scientific method. It is from this Enlightment spirit that the freedoms enjoyed across modern liberal democracies today sprouted, projecting a model for humane, safe, and fair treatment.
The long-foreseen Secular Age is arriving at a gallop. Survey after survey finds snowballing increases of Americans who say their religion is "none." The 2017 American Family Survey found that "nones" have climbed past one-third of U.S. adults—the highest ratio yet tallied. These churchless people have become the nation's largest faith category.
In this largely autobiographical account of why he is now an apostate, James McCartney reflects on the difference between a mere skeptic and former believer who undergoes a kind of deconversion over time. McCartney recounts how his first school teacher, his diligence at Presbyterian Sunday School, and a poem by Robert Burns led him to reject the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and those of other churches like it.
America is now losing religion faster than any other nation. American churches lost 20% of their members in the past two decades. Two-thirds of teens raised in church drop out in their twenties. Southern Baptists lost two million members since 2005. Mainline Protestantism is fading to a shadow. Meanwhile, churchless Americans began soaring in the 1990s and climbed past one-fourth of the population. They tend to hold compassionate social views and have become a powerhouse in "Left Coast" politics. If they continue rising as a progressive political force, America will be a better place for it.
Ritual is one of the most universally enjoyed human experiences, but it is often tangled up in supernatural claims that are insulting to our intelligence. Hiram Crespo, founder of the Society of Friends of Epicurus, discusses how the contractarian theory of Epicurean philosophy may be applied to the creation of rites of passage that retain their utility while being purged from superstition.
In this article explaining why he self-identifies as a humanist, Leslie Allan first explains what he found attractive enough about humanism to adopt its label. Then he outlines what he takes to be humanism's three guiding principles. Finally, he explores a humanist view of what gives our lives meaning and purpose.
The Internet provides a worldwide haven for freethought—and it also creates more freethought. If in-person meetings can't make a sanctuary for doubters, cyberland can. Religions spent centuries draining believers' resources to build a trillion-dollar global labyrinth of cathedrals, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, etc. Skeptics have only a few physical citadels. But, with little investment, the secular movement is making a worldwide intellectual home in the scientific marvel of cyberspace.
In "Why I Am Not a Christian (and Am an Atheist... and Antitheist)," David W. Smith first provides his basic reasons for rejecting Christianity, then his reasons for rejecting religion in general. In their place he offers a modified Apostle's Creed.
"Banished from Eden" is the story of my efforts to find religious answers to the brutal murder of my son. It's an in-depth emotional and intellectual journey from my struggles to reconcile religion with reality to my rejection of religion as an answer to anything.
According to Collins Dictionary, secularism is "a system of social organization and education where religion is not allowed to play a part in civil affairs." Among its fundamental principles are the separation of church and state, a secular court system, fully secular state organizations, and a fully secular education system grounded in modern science, psychology, and philosophy. As the winds of religious fundamentalism get stronger, discussion about secularism becomes increasingly important.
In the last century, many religious, autocratic and punitive traditions have been challenged by atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and human-rights activists who want to create a democratic, secular and humanist world. The irony is that while some communities are becoming more liberal, others are becoming more fundamentalist. In the last few decades, thousands of men and women have been arrested and punished under blasphemy laws all over the world. In some countries, people have taken the law into their own hands and killed those accused of blasphemy.
The Left, unashamedly, allies itself with Islamists in North America in the name of politically correct cultural relativism that says that the social and moral values of immigrants should be interpreted in the terms of the culture they have migrated from. It is quite ironic that the Left that is in constant struggle against the Christian Right on issues like abortion, gay marriage, teaching evolution in public schools, etc. is engaged in this unholy alliance with Islamists who have an identical social agenda as the Christian Right.
Einstein once said that "God does not play dice." But he also said, "It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropomorphic concept which I cannot take seriously." What, then, did Einstein mean by "God"? What sort of "God" did Einstein have in mind?
By simply being reactive, nontheistic debaters have allowed religious organizations to set the agenda. The time to create a freethought debate circuit, where both sides have fair legal representation and adequate debate preparation, has finally arrived!
We don't seem to win much notice in the press, but when we do, its good press. Carrier surveys the few instances he could find. Some are quite interesting!