Secularism gaining ground in the US ?

If not secularism, then definitely indifferentism.

From The Next American Nation, by Michael Lind:

(Actually, Buddhists don’t have any god strictly speaking; Gautama never claimed to be a god or a god’s prophet, only a guy who had meditated and worked out some things about life. In Buddhism the gods, if they exist, are beside the point – they’re in the same fix we are, trapped in the world of maya and stuck on the wheel of karma, and you can’t get enlightenment by praying to them. A key distinction from Hinduism.)

Most likely not, as the religiosity of a nation is inversely porpotional to it’s wealth. Immigrants coming from very poor Central American nations to the wealthy U.S. will likely become less religious as their wealth increases. The U.S. is somewhat of an outlier on this scale, but the recent report mentioned in the OP indicates that we are falling more in line with our counterparts in Europe and other Western Democracies.

The most religious parts of the world - Africa, the Middle East, Central/South America are also the poorest.

P.S. ITR Champion, I can’t read your charts, and the larger images aren’t there.

But they usually move because of practical considerations such as job markets and home prices, not because they are seeking out a more theistic community.

As immigrants assimilate, though, their fertility tends to decrease. Still it’s certainly true of most recent arrivals; a former co-worker, devout Catholic and Vietnamese immigrant, arrived here in the 1970s. He met his wife here, also a Vietnamese immigrant, and they have four kids. He’s got four brothers, and they’ve all got four or five kids; when they had a family gathering a couple of years ago, there were about sixty people there!

I have no particular issue with the faithful myself, as long as we keep it out of government. There’s nothing in the federal Constitution about gay marriage. There’s nothing in there about issues of personal behavior like using marijuana, whether recreationally or medicinally. And there’s certainly nothing about Jesus, God, the Trinity, or whether anyone is or is not saved. Many of the Founding Fathers were deeply religious. John Adams, in addition, appears to have been an enthusiastic religious tourist, attending all the different denominations he could while acting as a delegate to the early congresses. But he, like the others, had the sense to keep it out.

But they were in a minority.

No secularism isn’t gaining ground in the United States. The United States has always been a secular nation, for its entire history. It is impossible for secularism to gain ground here.

I’m not sure whether you are being flip or simply not understanding the point, but your claim is clearly not valid.

Until overturned by the Supreme Court, (Christian) prayer was an everyday occurrence in public schools across the country. The Catholic parochial school system was founded to protect Catholic kids from abuse because bible reading was a part of the core curriculm in the early 19th century and Catholic kids were abused for bringing in their Douay bibles instead of the Protestant KJVs. (The resulting tumult resulted in armed conflict, the burning of Catholic churches and neighborhoods, and several murders.) Accusations of “atheism” or that candidates held the “wrong” religious beliefs have been a part of political campaigns since the earliest days of the Republic and continue to be employed, today. While the Federal government has been barred from establishing a national church since the adoption of the Constitution, several of the earliest states had established churches, (and various anti-denominational laws), into the nineteenth century. While the Constitution prohibits “religious tests” for office–a point gleefully ignored by the previous administration–quite a few states include specific religious tests for public office in their own constitutions. “In God We Trust” was specifically added to the coinage as a sort of “national prayer,” (and a sop to silence the advocates who wanted the Constitution modified to establish a “Christian” basis for the country). It was later added to the printed currency and made a national motto specifically to distinguish the U.S. from the “godless communists.” “Under God” was dumped into the Pledge of Allegiance through an act of congress, (even there is no Constitutional basis for a Pledge of Allegiance), for the same reason.

Now, if one defines secular in its most narrow sense, it can well be argued that the country was founded to be a secular institution. However, when one considers the pervasive nature of religious activity in the culture in which it functions, the ways in which religion has been addresed by the government, and the explicit entanglement of religion with the various states, (as in the United States), then it is clear that the country is becoming, (with fits and starts), more secular and that it still has a way to go before it actually is secular.

Possibly. Until then, I’m fighting for what is right.

One thing that I find amusing is how it is the people who were part of the movements in the sixties that are often today the most pessimistic about our future trends. Think about this for a second. A revolution really did take place. But because all the goals weren’t accomplished, the conclusion is that there’s no real hope because clearly the next generation won’t be able to have a comparable revolution… Huh?

Moreover, I submit that many of the most important “liberal ideals” of that time have come to pass at least partially (ex. expanding human rights for all including gays is one huge example, and more general tolerance). On the other hand, the failure of wishy-washy spiritualism and whatnot was inevitable since it’s not based on truths any more than any other religion.

There’s a lot of work to do, no doubt, but I’m still optimistic. And I hold by what I said. I expect to see (at least organized) religion gone from the mainstream before I die. You just watch. :slight_smile:

Secularism is not the lack of religion, it’s the lack of STATE SPONSORED religion.

No, being dominated by atheism would be less secular. The fact that we culturally have these arguments is proof of our secularism. The lack of arguments the lack of dynamic cultural tension between people of varying faiths is the characteristic of a non-secular nation. People try to inject religion all the time and sometimes are successful. People try to strip religion all the time, and sometimes are successful. That’s what makes us a secular nation.

Oftentimes it’s completely misguided, like putting, “In God We Trust”, on the money which one of the most blatantly blasphemous ideas (from a Christian perspective) that I’ve ever heard of. That’s trying to mix God and Mammon, which Christ explicitly said was impossible. So it’s a secular thing because there are some Christians who would oppose it, others who like it. That’s what real secularism is. Secularism is NOT about abandoning religion or becoming more atheist, it is about the government not sanctioning one religion over another which the Federal Government has been pretty capable of doing for the most part. It swings back and forth as different people take different roles in the government, and different factions come in and out of fashion, but that doesn’t deny that it is secular. Many sects have TRIED to dominate the state apparatus, but they have always failed except for a few token symbolic acts that everyone thinks are far more meaningful than they actually are.

That being said, I recognize that most of the nation accepted the colloquial bastardization of the word secularism and now treats it like a religion that one can convert to, but I still bristle at it.

When and how has the word “secularism” been used to mean anything other than “indifference to religion and religious matters”? It does not necessarily have anything to do with state sponsorshipor lack thereof.

I was thrilled the other day when John Stewart was interviewing Sandra Day O’Connor. She said something about the fear of “godless, secular humanists” and he said something along the lines of “I think I am that godless, secular humanist.”

Combined with Obama’s inauguration shout out, it’s been a good 2009 so far!

Alright fair enough I’ll drop my concern.

I’m not speaking for or about Icarus, but there are some people of that generation who feel that they accomplished a lot and future generations failed to live up to their example or pick up the torch and run with it.

No. Secularism is the lack of religious entanglement with government, not simply the lack of state sponsorship.

We have had lots of entanglement since the beginning, as I have already pointed out.
Beyond that, we actually did have state sponsorship of religion for many ears, (and a claim that that was only among a couple of states does not remove it from the history of the nation).

Since I have made no reference to atheism in any context, this appears to be a red herring or a straw man position.

You are simply playing word games in which secularism is an on/off state. In fact, secularism exists on a continuum. The country began with a strong leaning toward secularism but with a still significant religious entanglement and has moved (with fits and starts) toward a more secular situation, but it is not a simple matter of “yes, we are” vs “no, we are not.”

From CNN - “The findings come from a survey of 54,461 Americans polled between February and November of last year. Pollsters conducted the research in both English and Spanish.”

54,000 Americans is a teeeeeeny weeeeeeny sample.
Were any of you guys asked? I know I wasn’t.

To compare, in CA last election, 57 MILLION voted. That’s not even a tenth of our population.

Rule number one in surveys: Read the last line first.

I’m VERY glad secularism is getting media attention. It’s about time we had a voice
and I am very, very tired of hearing “God bless” from anyone. But if a real survey is needed, do it on election day in 2012 and do it on college applications.

Aside: Another stupid poll in LA Times tells us that CA residents are even on Prop 8 reform… after polling (get ready…) 781 people! 781! Last line first.

The government of the United States has always been mostly secular. The people of the United States have always been mostly religious–sometimes more so, and sometimes less so. Since the 1970’s the trend has been toward “more so”. This survey indicates that that trend is levelling off, but to my eyes not yet reversing.

When polls are done, the issue isn’t just the size, it’s how they are conducted. I’m not a statistics expert, but I think you can definitely get meaningful results with a sample that size out of the U.S. population.

The most important thing is to get a properly randomized sample, not to ask the maximum number of people. (If you did a survey on election day, you’d need to control for age and for voting rates that probably vary among different religious affiliations.) Doing it on college applications would be a bad idea because your answers can be related to financial aid.

Sorry, my election numbers are off in CA, but the survey numbers are right.

Make the edit window 15 minutes, please.

But that’s how surveys generally work; they poll a representative sample, not an impractically huge number of people.


Fifty-four thousand people is an absolutely enormous sample for a survey, and if the selection process has been reasonably random, the results are almost guaranteed to match those that would be obtained by polling the whole population within a couple of percent.