Quick Takes: Secularism

Recent studies have shown that secularism Is on the rise throughout america due to a variety of factors, while participation in church and religion have experienced a noticEable decline in popularity.

Widespread Internet Access May Hold Significant Correlation To Increase in Secularism Around the U.S.

The Millennials are coming of age, and with them comes the rise of secularism in America. A study by the Pew Research Center states that “22.8 percent of Americans identified with no organized religion, which produced a dramatic rise from 16.1 percent in 2007.” That represents a huge increase, and we can definitely recognize that here in California, since “28 percent of the population in the West [is unaffiliated], more numerous than Catholics (23 percent), evangelicals (22 percent) and every other religious group.” Education and our contact with science and technology are the first responsible factors for this dramatic increase of individuals lacking religious affiliations.

The report continues by saying that “the percentage of college graduates who identify with Christianity has declined by 9 percentage points since 2007 (from 73 percent to 64 percent).” There is an overall decrease in Christians, with “the share of the public identifying with religions other than Christianity has grown from 4.7 percent in 2007 to 5.9 percent in 2014.”

Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, recently reported that the decrease in religious affiliation is correlated to an increased use of the Internet and various forms of new technology. The accelerated drop in religious affiliation since the 1980s is explained by three factors based on Downey’s research: “the drop in religious upbringing, the increase in college-level education and the increase in Internet use.”

Internet is slowly replacing religion in many aspects of our social life. Wikipedia and Google are just one click away to answer any question people previously asked their pastor. An article on the blog Chron states that “non-believers find solidarity on blogs and message boards. Afraid to “come out [as an] atheist” to friends and family, they can connect to other non-religious folk online, on sites like Atheist Revolution, The Atheist Blogger and the Friendly Atheist — where they’re free to critique religious news and politics.” All in all, the use of faster technologies and the Internet have caused a drop in the religious affiliation rate. As more people gain access to smartphones and the web, secularism in the U.S. is destined to grow, finally leading the U.S. to follow the trend of developed countries of Western civilizations.

—  Marcus Thuillier Senior Staff Writer

While Younger Generations Are Shifting Away from Religion, They Are Not Neccessarily Less Spiritual

Although American society has become less religious in the past decade, that doesn’t automatically equate to a decline in spirituality. While younger generations turn away from institutional religion, they continue to pray and participate in spiritual activities. The study “Religion in the Millennial Generation,” which drew from research by the Pew Religious Landscape Center, found that younger adults may be less connected to church but remain as spiritual as past generations. Forty-one percent of Millennials claim to pray on a daily basis, similarly to 42 percent of Generation X-ers. The shift towards spirituality represents an important movement to combat the influence of powerful religious institutions such as churches.

Spirituality represents the private sector of belief systems, while churches and religion tend to epitomize the public sector. A shift away from the public sector is evident in the lifestyle choices of Millennials as many use the Internet to connect with potential partners instead of churches. The term “Spiritual But Not Religious” is a popular personality quiz answer on various dating sites. Simple hobbies such as yoga, meditation and connecting with loved ones and friends can also be a way of fostering personal beliefs.

According to the Centre for Research on Globalization, Peres asked the pope if he would found a “U.N. of Religions,” which would be a global organization with elite religious authority, that would unite everyone under a single faith. This institution would be part of a worldwide effort to combat terrorism. As this would either result in the dissemination of religious and spiritual diversity across the globe, or another World War III, it’s probably for the best that the pope politely declined.

Most threats to freedom of religion haven’t proved substantial enough to cause real intimidation. It is clear that in the U.S. United States, many citizens have created fresh mindsets and new lifestyles through cherishing this freedom. The rise of spirituality over religion is a sign that individualism continues to gain prevalence in the U.S. United States. More and more young adults are empowering their lives with an independently spiritual mindset. This allows them to make their own choices and think for themselves, rather than following the traditional demands of the church.

—  CASSIA POLLOCK Opinion Editor


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