By Karen Turner
American secularism is on the rise.
Twenty-four percent of Americans don’t affiliate with any religion, according to a 2016 Public Religion Research Institute survey, which is up 8 percentage points in the past five years. Nowhere is the trend away from religion greater than in younger generations, where more than a third of people ages 18 to 29 are unaffiliated compared to just over 10 percent of people ages 65 and up.
But without religion — traditionally a source of community, purpose, and moral teaching — how are unaffiliated Americans filling this void? Some have suggested that increasingly tribal political identities have taken the traditional space of religion, along with fitness and exercise classes, and “workism” or careerism. Others think we simply might not be replacing organized religion with anything in particular, making us lonelier and more disconnected.
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