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.
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.
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.
The Bible has long been lauded as a moral guidebook for humankind. In this article, Robert Shaw asks whether the Bible offers any guidance to help us deal with the more complex issues that we face in the modern era. At a time when many minds are focused on the forthcoming US presidential election, Shaw also considers whether the Bible gives any counsel as to how countries should be governed, and what types of political leaders are biblically preferred.
"Most religious individuals have the best intentions at heart, and truly believe that their god and their way of life is what is best for everyone; if these ideals become law they will only end up alienating and incriminating the innocent."
Given the overwhelming majority people of faith have in holding positions of leadership in this country, we must not fear to ask: what role does the willingness to treat unsubstantiated and even absurd suppositions that haven't a shred of evidence to support them as unassailable facts play in their decision-making process? And what role should it play?
"I picked up Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason, with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Excitement, because it was a case of a prominent public figure delivering a much-needed defense of reason in the public square. Anxiety, because the figure was, well... a politician."
Lori Lipman Brown Brown goes to Washington as the first Director/Lobbyist of the Secular Coalition for America, of which Internet Infidels is a founding member. As the nation's very first 501(c)4 lobbying organization for freethinkers, the Coalition works to increase the visibility and respectability of nontheistic viewpoints within the larger culture, and to protect and strengthen secular government as the best guarantee of freedom for all.
George Walker Bush relates that he relied on guidance from "a higher Father" as he came to the decision to invade Iraq. Now that it's apparent that the best case scenario for Operation Iraqi Freedom will be a moderate Islamic republic aligned with Iran, and the worst case scenario a metastasizing war between Sunnis and Shiites spreading throughout the Middle East, perhaps it's time to address some questions surrounding President Bush's initial decision to go to war.
The "Support the Boy Scouts" amendment recently passed the Senate 98-0 after a federal District Court had declared unconstitutional the government support for theists-only BSA that the bill redeclares to be the law. Its Constitution be damned, nontheists are not protected by that document even if everyone else is!
"I felt an itching sensation to add another fringe color to our progressive rainbow: 'Hi! I am a secular conserv...' Brrr! Just an innocent attempt to spell out my political identity gives me goose bumps! I can imagine the apoplectic reaction from a sea of secular progressive officers and religious liberal soldiers: 'A conservative among our troops?!'"
The failure to distinguish between marriage as a civil institution, and marriage as a religious institution continues to cloud the issue of civil marriage equality for gays. Lawmakers who fail to recognize this distinction appeal to the "sanctity" of marriage in their efforts to ban same-sex marriage. Secularists should call attention to this important distinction between the civil and the religious in order to promote civil liberties and equality.
Separation of church and state is being undermined by those who see an advantage to promoting their own religious agenda. Emboldened by the favorable political climate in the current administration, and energized by the upcoming election, they seem to be intensifying their attacks; one egregious example is that of the Catholic Church. Unless stopped, they will succeed in changing the very foundation of this country, bringing to an end the religious liberty we now take for granted.
The Transitional Administrative Law of Iraq carries a grave flaw. It has no provision for a separation between religion and government. Given the instability of postwar Iraq, the loophole in the charter must be sealed. If not, Iraq will have a door ajar for theocracy.
Drake's article on expertise is a first-rate example of a common expert strategy: the deployment of expertise as a political club to get the reader to accept the expert's values, without really recognizing that they are indeed values which the layman is free to accept or reject as she pleases.
In viewing himself as an instrument of divine will and America as God's country, Bush is a throwback to the Puritan theocracies.
The ban on cloning passed by the House of Representatives poses a chicken and egg problem of a different sort.
After Iraq's decisive defeat in Kuwait, Saddam Hussein threatened to invade Kuwait again! Two years later, he tried to assassinate the emir of Kuwait and former President Bush. In October 2000 he sent five divisions to western Iraq after getting consent from Syria for an attack against Israel. Hussein has repeatedly stated that he wants to turn Iraq into a "superpower" that will dominate the Middle East. Although it will be a difficult and costly undertaking with no guarantee of success, war must be weighed against the larger costs and risks of leaving a nuclear weapon equipped Saddam Hussein in charge.
G. L. Pierce needs to get his facts straight before blaming America for the world's ills. This is in response to his article The Realities of the Peace Movement
This is a defense of "the Peace Movement," a response to "Thoughts on the Peace Movement" by Daniel G. Jennings. Although the realities are hard to accept, war is not the solution to current problems.
We find ourselves in a dangerous new reality, in a world which we share with evil people who want to kill us, and destroy our nation and way of life. Such a reality is frightening and uncomfortable, and it requires us to take risks and make sacrifices. Many people can't accept such a reality so they start buying into other false views of reality such as those offered by the peace movement.
One of the greatest needs of the human being is being a part of the group. Until there are established groups, clubs, and associations that espouse rational thought and critical thinking, there is little chance of upturning the theistic support clubs called churches.
Had Bush not packaged his personal beliefs as inviolable truths in his address at the 51st annual National Prayer Breakfast, his sermonizing might be excusable. As it stands, however, his words make it apparent that he is oblivious to those who do not share his faith.
The real question may not be if we should attack Iraq and invade the Middle East, but when we should do it.
It is long overdue that people who do not believe in any god are elected to significant political office. Atheists must start electing some of their own, and Eddie Tabash, the only admitted atheist to run for political office in 2000, describes what is necessary for this to happen, and how we need to overcome crippling assumptions and prejudices and start getting politically savvy, just as the Christian Right has done.
The following article demonstrates how countries throughout the world can, and are being devastated, by religious conflict. The religious revivalism currently sweeping South Asia has ambitions of political and cultural reform, opening the door to all brands of extremism. Hindu supremacists have become a powerful force in India and pose a serious danger to all opposing worldviews. This weeks feature offers Secular Web readers an opportunity to learn more about this important subject.