FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

None of the Above

Western civilization has entered the long-predicted Secular Age when the power of religion over society gradually recedes.

Europe started the shift after World War II.  Churchgoing diminished until only a fringe of Europeans attends worship services today – fewer than 10 percent in some nations. The young especially ignore religion, and this secularizing trend has spread to Canada, Australia, Japan and other democracies.

Now, it’s occurring in America.  People who tell pollsters that their religion is “none” have increased rapidly to one-fourth of the U.S. population. They are expected to continue rising because one-third of Americans under 30 have ceased worshiping.

This trend has political significance because those who don’t attend church are strongly liberal, progressive, and Democratic in their values. The “none” segment may decide the Nov. 8 national election.

“The Decline of Religion is the GOP’s Real Demographic Crisis” is the title of a research report by journalist Matthew Sheffield, who is writing a book on the trend.

He points out that Republican Mitt Romney clearly won the 2012 presidential election, as far as U.S. churchgoers are concerned – but churchless voters killed Romney in state after state. Sheffield wrote:

“In seven key states – Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and New Hampshire – Mitt Romney won the majority of the Christian vote but ended up losing overall because he was defeated so soundly among non-Christians.”

Polls show that “none” voters backed Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 by these huge margins: Virginia, 78 percent to 22 – Pennsylvania, 74 to 25 – Florida, 72 to 26 – Wisconsin, 73 to 25 – etc.

“It is safe to say that the Godless Gap cost Mitt Romney the election,” Sheffield concluded.

Young “nones” generally are tolerant and humane.  They support the right of gays to marry. They support women’s right to choose to end pregnancies. They would halt the death penalty.  They would legalize marijuana. They support universal health care.  They reject most of the harsh Puritanism of the GOP and its fundamentalist wing. They embrace compassionate Democratic values.

White evangelicals vote Republican as forcefully as “nones” vote Democratic. Currently, both segments are evenly balanced — each comprising one-fifth to one-fourth of U.S. voters.

But here’s a crucial difference: White evangelicals are shrinking, while the churchless grow relentlessly. The trend bodes a brighter future for liberal politics (although many “nones” don’t bother to vote).

It’s fascinating to watch the culture evolve. When I became a young Charleston Gazette reporter in the 1950s, Appalachian Bible Belt taboos were locked into law. It was a felony to be gay. It was a felony for a desperate girl to end a pregnancy.  It was a crime for stores to open on the Sabbath.  Mixed-race marriage was against the law.  It was a crime to sell a cocktail, lottery ticket or anything akin to a Playboy magazine. Schools had mandatory teacher-led prayer. It was a crime for an unwed couple to live together or even share a bedroom.

All those religion-based laws slowly vanished as society turned more secular.  Few people noticed because we all were too busy with daily life – but morality gradually flip-flopped. Former crimes became legal.

The secularizing trend seems unstoppable.  It gradually bolsters progressive values of the Democratic Party. White evangelicals remain the heart of the GOP — but they are losing ground as “nones” slowly outnumber them.

More articles by:

James Haught, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is editor emeritus of West Virginia’s largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail