Author Topic: Religiously unaffiliated a growing demographic  (Read 3845 times)


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Religiously unaffiliated a growing demographic
« on: October 11, 2012, 12:40:55 AM »
I thought this article is thought provoking. We are really living in a degenerate age – a religiously degenerate age – as religion is declining around us. People are losing faith in faith – because of politics, scandals and the inability for modern people to relate with religious dogma which does not move with the times.

In that sense, Buddhism has much potential. Buddhism evolves with the times and the modern interpretation of Buddhism is making Buddhism more acceptable and accessible to the youth of today. It’s general relaxed attitude (believe what makes sense, discard what doesn’t make sense) also allows people to embrace it as a philosophy rather than a religion, which perhaps makes people more comfortable with it also, at least conceptually.

The Christians are worried that the lack of faith will make society disintegrate. As the Dalai Lama has recently said, perhaps we should focus on values rather than religion per se. After all, he has always said, kindness is my religion.

Religiously unaffiliated a growing demographic
By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel Oct. 9, 2012

FaithWatch Blog
Religion news in Wisconsin and beyond

Rachel Vohnoutka doesn't feel the need to go to church. Or temple, or mosque or any house of worship for that matter.

A "philosophical Buddhist," drawn by Buddhism's notions of balance and compassion, Vohnoutka doesn't deny the existence of God. She just thinks it's highly unlikely.

"Honestly, I don't think humans need religion to be moral," said Vohnoutka, a 22-year-old graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who grew up in Waukesha.

"I try to be a good person because I care about people and it's the right thing to do," she said. "Not because there's some guy in the sky who's judging me.

Vohnoutka is among the 46 million Americans who describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, a large and growing demographic whose increasing prominence is likely to shape culture, politics and public policy over the long term.

According to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, the number of American adults who do not identify with any religion surged from just under 15% five years ago, to nearly 20% this year.

At the same time, it said, for the first time in history, the percentage of people who consider themselves Protestant fell significantly below half the population, to 48%.

"What we're seeing, I think, is a change from religion as an ascribed identity to religion as a chosen identity," said Mark Silk, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life at Trinity College, which first flagged the growth of so-called Nones - from 6% to nearly 15% - in 2001.

"People now understand that this is not just a country of Protestants, Catholics, Jews. . . . It's also a people of no faith."

According to Pew, about one-fifth of all adults, and about one-third of adults under 30, are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

It is a diverse group, including more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics as well as nearly 33 million who say they have no particular religious affiliation.

Though unaffiliated, most consider themselves religious or spiritual in some way, including 68% who said they believe in God, and 21% who reported praying every day. And few are uniformly hostile to religion.

Pew attributed the growth primarily to the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. But Silk and colleague Barry Kosmin of Trinity's Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture see other factors at play, including the politicization of religion and church scandals.

"If you look at it, 60% believe in God. They're not angry with the guy upstairs," said Kosmin. "They seem to be slightly angry with his branch representatives on Earth."

The study comes as some religious leaders, particularly Catholic bishops, have decried a growing secularism. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will take up the issue at its annual meeting this fall.

Meanwhile, the church has launched a major evangelization initiative aimed at turning those numbers around.

"God is the ultimate reality of our life, and if we turn away from him, we're turning away from . . . the meaning of our existence," said Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Donald Hying.

Others heralded the continued trend.

"The fact that one in five Americans have rejected traditional religion means that the enormous influence religion has had over policy and culture will continue to wane," said Ronald A. Lindsay of the New York-based Center for Inquiry.

The trend, if it continues, may have significant political and social implications, according to Pew and others.

More than 60% of the unaffiliated are Democrats or lean that way. And they are much more inclined to support legal abortion and same-sex marriage.

As the trend continues, that may feed a growing polarization, not just in politics but society as a whole, according to Silk.

"It means we're losing that big middle that holds society together," Silk said.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

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Re: Religiously unaffiliated a growing demographic
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 08:32:05 AM »
This is not unusual and modern individuals today are progressively inclined in this way for the last few decades and especially today when people are exposed to all kinds of information. Not all information that you get from the Internet are conducive to the development of spirituality especially when people do not have someone with a spiritual background to explain things to.

People generally cannot accept the sweeping answers that God works mysterious ways or that our problems and difficulties that we go through is a test by God. People need much more substantial answers than that. Hence, Buddhism does provide a lot of answers and know-how to the growing amount of questions people ask today. I guess, the most satisfying answers are usually the fact that these answers are backed up by Buddhist masters who have achieved the answers to these questions.