If you’re interested, check out my interview with the New Republic in a piece called, “The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas.” I’m very grateful that they gave me the opportunity to speak about this topic, which never would have been up for discussion ten years ago.
Religion is loosening its grip here in America–even in places like Texas–thanks in large part to people like you and me speaking up about our lack of faith, writing about losing our religion and raising our kids without it. Every time we speak up and say, “I don’t believe in god,” we desensitize believers. We change the perception of what it means not to believe in god. When we come out to family, friends and neighbors, people who once thought of us as “good Christians,” we prove that there is no link between belief and morality.
No discovery, no invention, no movement is the act of a single person. It is years of building upon the discoveries and actions and ideas of previous generations. In the case of a social movement, it takes millions of people changing their attitudes, actions and beliefs. For secularism, it has included the work of scientists and historians and people who are willing to listen, read and make their own conclusions. According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), two recent surveys of Americans found these interesting religious trends:
Belief in the historical accuracy of the Christmas story in the Bible has dropped 18 percentage points during the last decade. In 2004, two-thirds (67%) of Americans said that the story of Christmas was historically accurate, compared to only 24% who said it was a theological story.
In 2004, only 13 percent of Americans believed the Bible was not the word of God but was written by men and 82 percent believed that the Bible is the word of God. A 2013 survey found that 30 percent of Americans now believe that the Bible is not the word of God but a book written by men and 63 percent believe that the Bible is the word of God.
Americans are questioning the veracity of what they’ve been told and of what they are reading in the Bible. Many of the people surveyed still believe in God, but now they are questioning the facts of their religion. Once believers start turning away from church, it is a lot easier to turn from God. At the very least, there will be more understanding between those who still believe and those who do not as people come realize that the Bible does not hold the facts, that God is just wishful thinking.
The loud and proud Evangelicals have also experienced a sharp decline in numbers over the last ten years, and indeed, appear to be part of a dying church. With the rise of the nones and their exodus out of the church, with the lack of faith in so many young adults and with the children you and I are bringing up as atheists, agnostics and freethinkers, religion is unraveling at the seams.
Some say Christianity will experience a resurgence, but they, of course, are hopeful Christians. It is more likely that religion will hang on like a loose tooth and that a segment of our population will remain devout, but that most of us will lose religion and belief all together. Our humanness, rather than our disparate beliefs in the god narrative, will unite us.
You and I and our friends who believe as we do are making rapid social changes. We are bringing a lot of different faces to atheism—not just white academics—but women and men and young people of all shapes, sizes and colors. We are taking this movement mainstream.
Thank you for walking with me and for being part of this change. I appreciate all the conversations we’ve had, the guest posts and the links you’ve shared with me.
Have safe and happy Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Talk to you next year!