Sunday, July 29, 2012
religion in america
Though more Americans go to church or believe in God than their counterparts in virtually every other Western country, fewer Americans now trust religious institutions. A recent Gallup pollshowed that just 44 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in "the church or organized religion."
It's unclear if this is a permanent shift or just a sign of the times, but NPR's religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty says it doesn't mean that America is less religious.
"Although among young people, belief in God is declining," Hagerty tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. "But generally polls show that about 90 percent of Americans actually believe in God. So what's happening here is a decline in the trust of religious organizations."
People just don't want to go to church as much as they used to, Hagerty says, and the societal pressures to go aren't there anymore.
On the other end of the spectrum are those with no affiliation, agnostics and atheists. Their numbers have doubled in the last 20 years, Hagerty says.
That rise can be attributed to several factors, she says, including concerns over the merging of religion and politics in the '90s, and the popularity of atheist scholars like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins giving rise to what she calls "neo-atheists."
"Over the years, more and more people, especially young people, have been willing to come out of the closest [as atheists]," she says.