By Hemant Mehta
In an article for The Atlantic, writer Derek Thompson recognizes the rise of the non-religious. In 1990, we were roughly 8% of the U.S. population. By 2000, we were 14%. By 2010, 18%. It’s about 23% now. It keeps going up and there’s no sign of the trend slowing down.
What Thompson wants to know is what happened around 1990 — that’s the year he pinpoints — that caused the percentage to begin its upward trajectory.
According to Christian Smith, a sociology and religion professor at the University of Notre Dame, America’s nonreligious lurch has mostly been the result of three historical events: the association of the Republican Party with the Christian right, the end of the Cold War, and 9/11.
Thompson goes in more depth about each of those theories and there’s validity to all of them. He also points out, correctly, that religious institutions in general have shot themselves in the foot. The Catholic Church became mired in sexual abuse scandals while evangelicals were continuing their high-profile financial ones.
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