Joseph Cotto, 7/16/2014 [Archive]

Americans are Losing Their Faith in Religion

By Joseph Cotto

Most people lost their faith in politicians and America's political institutions long ago. Now, they're abandoning organized religion.

The trend has existed for some time. According to statistics released by Gallup in 2012, fewer Americans than ever before have a great deal of confidence in organized religion. This is not all, though; public confidence in television news, banks, and public schools has reached rock bottom as well.

In March, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that things haven't turned around over the last two years.

According to NBC reporter Carrie Dann, "One in five Americans say religion does not play an important role in their lives, a new NBC/WSJ journal poll shows — the highest percentage since the poll began asking participants about their focus on faith in 1997."

She continues, "Twenty-one percent of respondents said that religion is 'not that important' to their lives, compared to 16 percent who said the same in 1999. In 1997, 14 percent of Americans said religion did not play an important role in their lives."

The poll indicates that across the board, people don't believe in social institutions as they once did.

The decline in religiosity is especially telling. When one considers how theistic beliefs are typically passed down from generation to generation, the fact that so many are now opting to break this cycle indicates monumental change.

How will this play out for our society during the years ahead?

In politics, it might result in diminishing returns for the theoconservative movement. This could potentially cause a seismic shift in our country's right-wing sphere, and allow for fiscal and national security issues to overtake social ones.

On a broader scale, less religion may cause various charities and social welfare organizations to secularize. It might also spark an interest in non-theistic philosophy; classical and contemporary alike. Perhaps instead of a church on every corner, the future will boast neighborhood intellectual salons.

Considering that, according to researchers at the University of Amsterdam, the IQ of Western nations declined by 14.1 percent from 1884 to 2004, this might be a pipe dream.

In any case, secularization could very well lead people to seek out clinical therapists rather than pastors for psycho-emotional assistance. Who knows; an outright atheist may even be elected president. Only the calendar's turning pages can tell.

Any way the situation is viewed, our country is in the midst of a definitive transformation. While religion plays but a single part, its effects cannot be understated.

These are interesting times, indeed.


Copyright 2014 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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