"Empty pews" by Jason Scott / CC BY 2.0

One nation ‘under God’? More and more Americans don’t think so.

Aug 26, 2020

By Charles Lane

In the United States, one of the most consequential cultural changes of our time may be the swift and seemingly accelerating decline of religious commitment.

Historically, Americans have recorded relatively high levels of worship-service attendance and belief in God, as compared with their peers in advanced industrial societies such as Europe or Japan. The U.S. example seemed to show that faith could survive in an environment dominated by science and technology.

A forthcoming book by University of Michigan political scientist Ronald F. Inglehart, however, suggests that the United States is now rapidly catching up with the trend toward secularization elsewhere.

When asked to express the importance of God in their lives on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “not at all important,” and 10 being “very important,” Americans rated Him at an average of 4.6 in 2017 — down from 8.2 in just over a decade, according to an excerpt of Inglehart’s book, “Religion’s Sudden Decline,” in the current issue of Foreign Affairs.

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