So after all the to-do about the rise of the Religious Right -- fueled by Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who turned that demographic into a Republican stalwart with all their bluster, it now emerges that religious affiliation is way down.
One-fifth of U.S. adults say they are not part of a traditional religious denomination, new data from the Pew Research Center show, evidence of an unprecedented reshuffling of Americans’ spiritual identities that is shaking up fields from charity to politics.
But despite their nickname, the “nones” are far from godless. Many pray, believe in God and have regular spiritual routines.
Their numbers have increased dramatically over the past two decades, according to the study released Tuesday. About 19.6 percent of Americans say they are “nothing in particular,” agnostic or atheist, up from about 8 percent in 1990. One-third of adults under 30 say the same. Pew offered people a list of more than a dozen possible affiliations, including “Protestant,” “Catholic,” “something else” and “nothing in particular.”
Experts have been tracking unaffiliated Americans since their numbers began rising, but new studies are adding details to the portrait.
I'm actually surprised by these results, but when taking time understanding the data I think it's pretty evident what has happened.
We think it’s mostly a reaction to the religious right,” said Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, who has written at length about the decline in religious affiliation. “The best predictor of which people have moved into this category over the last 20 years is how they feel about religion and politics” aligning, particularly conservative politics and opposition to gay civil rights.
I still identify with Catholicism, even though I've gone my own way when it comes to matters of spirituality. I do remember that when I did go to church, it was all about how I could be a better person, how I could forgive my self and others, and how I could help instead of take. But that was thirty years ago, and a lot has changed; there are a lot of right-wing camels who seem to pass right through the needle's eye these days. The right has infused politics into their religion in a horrific way, and now they tell parishioners who and what to vote for. It's perverse. I can see now why Americans are turning off to their extremism and going their own way.
If we take a look at Mormonism since Mitt Romney is running, their history tells a story of how Joseph Smith ran for president in the 1840s and was consumed with taking the White House. So from the get-go, Mormons were focused on the presidency.
And this statistic is very telling too.
For the presidential campaigns, the data reflect a simple fact on the ground. Three-quarters of unaffiliated voters voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Today, the unaffiliated break like this: 65 percent for Obama, 27 percent for Republican nominee Mitt Romney
When people tune out and listen to their hearts, they realize the the Democratic party is more in step with their own thinking, even if the party has become DLC lite.
And here is the most telling news coming out of this survey.
The nones are strongly liberal on social issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage, but no different from the public overall and the religiously affiliated on their preference for a smaller government providing fewer services. If they have an issue, it’s that they don’t believe religion and politics should mix. Only a third of them say it matters if the president is a believer. Three-quarters of the affiliated think it matters.
See that? Politics and religion should NOT MIX.