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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Can an atheist take part in a religious celebration? Is there some alternative way in which an atheist can enjoy the good things about the Christmas season?
"Liberals and leftists have acquired a reputation of shying away from any criticism of Islam. We liberals are well trained to be sensitive to whether our speech sounds appropriate. After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, many liberals condemned the blasphemy and the imagined racism of the murdered cartoonists as well as the violence. People who complain about "political correctness" have begun to speak of a "regressive left" that attempts to shut down any speech that may offend minority identities, particularly the religion and politics of Muslim immigrants. All this frustrates those of us who come from a Muslim background, but identify as secular liberals. If I had my way, liberals and leftists would start doing things differently."
"I will argue that if everyone in the world adopted a position of respect and tolerance for all people and the environment the world would be a better place. This is more likely to happen with a secular morality than a religious morality because religions often do not preach tolerance and respect for other people or the environment. A religious morality often falls down due to intolerance and a lack of respect for others. Indeed, I go further and argue that a secular morality is better than a religious one because it will produce a more tolerant, respectful world."
"As a humanist psychotherapist my view is that to promote secular ethics and create a humanistic world, we need to respect human rights and associate sex with love and affection, rather than sin and guilt. To grow as a human species and evolve as sexual beings, we need to embrace advances in science and psychology rather than age-old scriptures that impose contradictory sexual morals and create fear in people."
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?
"I like to find secular counterpoints to Christmas, not secular counterparts. That, in a nutshell, is the topic of this essay. There is a secular side to Christmas, one that a nontheist can enjoy with the rest of society without betraying their nontheist views. In fact, I propose that the very shape and spirit of the holiday is significantly nonreligious, from twinkling lights and fake snow to the eggnog and fruitcake. Yes, Virginia, there is an atheist's Christmas!"
Internet Infidels Board Member Clark Adams recounts the Freedom From Religion Foundation's memorable 2002 convention in San Diego.
Do demographic shifts and emerging views in the popular media signal better times ahead for nonbelievers? The author says they do.