A new study shows that less than half of Americans belong to the church, but religion, especially Christianity, still has a great influence in American politics, especially because it declines faster than Republicans among Democrats. fast.
A survey by Gallup showed that only 47% of the U.S. population are members of churches, mosques or synagogues, compared with 20% ten years ago. This is partly due to the abandonment of millennials. Religious beliefs, but experts say, it is also the mixed whirlpool of right-wing politics and Christianity pursued by the Republican Party.
There is evidence that Republicans in some states pursue extreme “Christian nationalism” policies, trying to impose their views on Christianity on a less and less interested public.
This week, the governor of Arkansas signed a law that allows doctors to refuse treatment of LGBTQ people on religious grounds, and other states are exploring similar legislation.
Gallup began asking Americans about their church membership in 1937-this number has consistently exceeded 70% for decades. This situation began to change in 2000 and has been steadily declining since then.
Part of the decline is due to changes in generations. Approximately 66% of people born before 1946 are still members of the church, compared with only 36% of millennials.
Among other groups reported by Gallup, church members who consider themselves Democrats and independents have fallen the most. In the past 20 years, the number of members of the democratic church has fallen by 25%, and the number of independent churches has fallen by 18%. The membership of the Republican church has also fallen, but only by 12%.
David Campbell, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, and co-author of “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” said the decline of these groups is political-“an allergic reaction to religious rights.” “”.
Campbell said: “Many Americans-especially young people-believe that religion and political conservatism are closely related, especially the Republican Party.”
“Because that is not their political party or their politics, they do not want to identify themselves as religious beliefs. Young people are particularly allergic to the hostile view of LGBTQ rights in many (but by no means all) American religions.”
Campbell’s research shows that as politicians-especially Republicans-confuse religion with politics, more and more Americans have given up their religious beliefs. Campbell said that Americans’ belief in religion has been ups and downs, but he believes that the current downward trend may continue.
“I don’t think there is any sign that religious rights and Christian nationalism are dying. In turn, this shows that allergic reactions will continue to exist, so more and more Americans will give up their religious beliefs.” He said.
Michele Margolis, associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “From Politics to Jews,” said that the number of people who are considered non-religious has been increasing steadily in recent decades. Margolis said that more than 20% of all Americans are classified as “nones,” and more than one-third of Americans under 30 are classified as “nones.”
“This means that as cohort replacement continues to occur, over time, the unidentified population will continue to account for a larger proportion,” Margolis said. But she agrees that another factor is that the right has added theism to politics.
She said: “Because the connection between religion and conservative politics has been closed, we let Democrats choose to withdraw from organized religion or reduce their participation, while Republicans choose to join.”
Christian nationalists (who believe that the United States has been established and should continue to be a Christian nation) have taken a series of measures to bring their religious beliefs into American life.
In states including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Florida, Republicans have enacted legislation to undermine LGTBQ rights, reproductive rights, challenge couples’ ability to adopt children, and see religion forced into the classroom in various ways.
The governor of Arkansas recently signed a bill into law that allows medical staff to refuse to treat LGBTQ people on religious grounds. Montana will pass a law that will allow people or businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community based on religion.
The Republican Montana Congressman John Fuller, who supported the law, said: “Don’t let me not do what my God tells me.”
Alison Gill, vice president of law and policy for American atheists, wrote a report on the spread of Christian extremism in the United States. He warned that the decline in American religious beliefs may actually accelerate this effort, not reduce it. Slow its efforts. .
“Surveys of people who identify with Christian nationalism have always shown that with Islamic society, blacks, atheists, [and] Jews,” Jill said.
“They are experiencing a decline in their status in American culture, which is an unacceptable attack on their beliefs-this is driving the many efforts we have seen to stay in power, undermine democracy, and fight for the protection of’religious freedom’, which only applies For them.”
Gil said that the influence of religion on politics is obvious.
“Even if the facts are no longer consistent, the United States still considers itself a major religious society. Politicians often swear to declare their religious beliefs and are attacked for lack of religious beliefs,” she said.
The danger of a right-wing backlash does exist, but Anne Laurie Gallo, co-founder of the Religious Freedom Foundation, said Gallup’s data shows that the United States is moving in a positive direction.
“Our church in the United States is separated from this constitution of the country. Our constitution does not believe in God. It says that you cannot have the religious test of public office, but you almost have to wear religion on your sleeve to elect”, Gai Luo said.
“There is exercise [away from religion], We are very happy to see this. We think it’s great that Americans finally wake up. “