FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 27, 2019
Kris Hermes
Syrian Refugee Terror Plot or Latest in Pattern of FBI-Manufactured Terrorism Cases?
Charles Pierson
Don’t Leave Nukes on the Shelf. Use Them!
Manuel García, Jr.
American Climate Change Policy: You Don’t Matter
Robert Hunziker
At 100, Gaia Faces its Biggest Challenges
Ramzy Baroud
The Day After: What if Israel Annexes the West Bank?
Peter Bolton
The Failed Venezuelan Coup and the Decline of US Hegemony
Thomas Knapp
One Cheer for Trump on Iran
Robert Lipsyte
Jockpocalypse: From the Ballpark to Team Trump
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
When Trump Did the Right Thing…Twice
John W. Whitehead
Mass Arrests, Power Grabs and the Politics of Fear
Myles Hoenig
Voter Disenfranchisement in Toronto
Binoy Kampmark
The Pinkerton Effect: The US Marines in Darwin
Michael Galant
Time for a Global Minimum Wage
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How We Are All Climate Change Deniers
June 26, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The U.S.-Iran Imbroglio: Dangerous Lessons To Be Learned
Paul Street
Reflections and Correspondence at the Abyss
John Laforge
Trump’s Ministry of No Information
Paul Edwards
Fool Me Twice
Rob Hager
Warren and Sanders: Compare and Contrast
John Steppling
The Monkey’s Face
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World of Shadows
Jaspal Kaur Sadhu Singh
Correcting a Colonial Injustice: The Return of the Chagos Islands to Its Natives
Binoy Kampmark
Violent Voyeurism: Surveillance, Spyware and Human Rights
Jonah Raskin
Reflections on Abbie Hoffman and Joshua Furst’s Novel, Revolutionaries
Dave Chapman
The Hydroponic Threat to Organic Food
June 25, 2019
Rannie Amiri
Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran
Paul Tritschler
Hopeful Things
John Feffer
Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?
Binoy Kampmark
Bill Clinton in Kosovo
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture
Edward Hunt
Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance
Steve Kelly
Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy
Stephen Carpa
Protecting the Great Burn
Colin Todhunter
‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit
Martin Billheimer
The Gothic and the Idea of a ‘Real Elite’
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail