The Changing Nature of America’s Irreligious Explained

In the article I looked at this week, “The Changing Nature of America’s Irreligious Explained,” Richard Flory of Religion News Service takes a look at the increasing percentage of US citizens who claim to have no religious affiliation. This is, of course, very relevant to what we have discussed in class, as it talks about religious “nones” and reasons for their increasing numbers. It discusses the diversity of individuals identifying as nones, including those who identify as spiritual and not religious (potentially also identifying as a member of what McGuire would term a non-official religion) and those who are open to the existence of God or some similar higher power.

Flory distills his argument down to five major reasons for the increase in religious nones in America. His first reason is that with the more widespread access to knowledge granted by the internet, traditional authority structures have been weakened (he mentions a nameless pastor whose sermons were fact-checked by her parishioners as she gave them). His second reason is that important social institutions, religion included, are no longer viewed as frequently as having a positive impact on society. Thirdly, issues such as widely televised sex scandals have given religion a bad name. Fourthly, increasing competition for the attention of the average citizen has rubbed out organized religion for a lot of people, and finally, many new parents have been stressing personal choice for their children when it comes to religion, and, perhaps for one of the other four reasons listed above, less children are choosing organized religion. This article is obviously connected very deeply to some of the issues we’ve been discussing in class, and I thought it would be interesting to see a contemporary, real-world take on the issues that we have been covering.