Religion and Philosophy

Will anyone be happy with a post-religious America?

By Samuel Goldman The Week

Post-religious America is growing up. That’s the bottom line of a new survey by Deseret News and Marist Poll. Researchers saw declines in religious practice in most demographic groups, but generational differences were especially stark.

According to the report, Americans “60 or older (43 percent) are more likely than their younger counterparts to attend religious services at least weekly.” By contrast, just “21 percent of those 18-29, 25 percent of those 30-44, and 27 percent of those 45-59 attend religious services at least weekly.” That likely inflates real numbers, since “desirability bias” encourages respondents to report their aspirations rather than their actual practices.

Post-religious doesn’t mean atheist. Like other recent research, the new study found that majorities continue to express religious beliefs even while they disengage from organized worship and formal institutions. Fifty-four percent continue to express belief in God “as described in the Bible. ” And a further 29 percent profess to believe in a non-Biblical God or some other higher power. The large cohort of professed believers is roughly consistent with the 71 percent of Americans who describe themselves as “spiritual,” whether or not they embrace any traditional theology.

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