Religion, Politics & Sex (Part Four)
American Muslims

Religion, Politics & Sex (Part Five)

InGodWeTrust-dollar I thought I'd round out this week's posts with a quick look at the overall state of religion in the U.S.

The U.S. is the most religious of all the developed nations in the world. Just look at a dollar bill.

But that doesn't mean everyone is a church-going, Bible-thumping believer.  

In fact, by the numbers, religion in the U.S. looks like a barbell, with relatively small numbers at two extremes and everyone else in the middle.  

The 6 to 7% of the population at one end are true atheists who don't believe in any higher being; the 10 to 12% at the other end are true-believers who think only they will be saved; the rest of us are in the middle.

But the middle isn't uniform either.  It includes people who are highly religious -- they say grace before every meal, go to church every week, experience the presence of God in their lives in an intimate way.

But the middle also includes people who are relatively secular -- they believe in God, but they seldom pray or attend religious services. Some don't even belong to a religious congregation of any sort. 

Asian man

In this middle ground of religiosity, the typical religious person is an older African-American woman who lives in the South. The typical secular person is a young Asian man who lives in the Northeast. 

Earlier in U.S. history, religious conflict was largely between different religious groups.  More recently, it has been between believers and non-believers.  But as levels of religiosity decline among the young, the gap between the more religious and the more secular will become more pronounced.  

In the Faith Matters survey on which American Grace was based, there are clear signs that religious and secular people sit on opposite sides of a yawning gap. They tend to see each other as intolerant and selfish. They have sharply different views on a range of issues, from gambling, R-rated movies, pre-marital sex, and abortion to divorce and homosexuality.

These two groups are up for grabs.  How much of the middle the Republican Party can hold on to depends in large measure on how effective the Democratic Party can be in convincing secular-religious people that it shares their fundamental values on the issues that are most salient to them.






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