It was a busy news week this past week with the Derek Chauvin trial and President Biden’s announcement of a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, among other national stories breaking.
Perhaps overshadowed in the rush of news stories was the release of a Gallup poll indicating that, for the first time, fewer than half of U.S. adults say they belong to a church, synagogue or mosque.
The poll, published Monday, indicates that religious membership in the U.S. has fallen to just 47 percent among those surveyed — representing less than half of the adult population for the first time since Gallup began asking the question more than 80 years ago, according to NPR.
The decline is part of a continued drop in membership over the past 20 years, according to Gallup data. When Gallup first asked the question in 1937, 73 percent of U.S. adults said they belonged to a religious congregation.
Ask Americans if they believe in God, and most will say yes. But a growing number have lost faith in organized religion.
Should we be concerned with this trend? Church leaders, predictably, say yes. But so do many other cultural observers who argue that our culture’s secularization spells trouble for a nation founded on Christian principles.
But what is equally concerning to us is that, for many people, politics have replaced religion. As Christianity’s hold, in particular, has weakened, ideological intensity and fragmentation have risen. Bitter partisan politics are increasingly dividing American families.
Shadi Hamid made that point in The Atlantic recently. American faith, it turns out, is as fervent as ever; it’s just that what was once religious belief has now been channeled into political belief, he wrote.
That should worry all of us, especially with the siege at the U.S. Capitol still fresh in our memory.