Two things strike me as curious about this ABC News report that 35-40% of young Americans (they don’t provide an age range but do note that the poll included members of gen x and y – whatever that means) now identify as having “no religion.”
First, that’s an astronomically large number. Considering that the “no religion” category has historically hovered in the 5-15% range. This could be due to any number of factors, none of which the article actually addresses.
Over the past two decades the survey claims “many young people began to view organized religion as a source of ‘intolerance and rigidity and doctrinaire political views,’ and therefore stopped going to church.”
Sure, makes sense. So they when do we still kowtow to the religious right. The correlation seems to be that their influence isn’t as strong as we would think.
Secondly, it’s time that news articles on religion stop using the cliche that not going to church is different than being an atheist. Because when they write that it is inevitably followed by the qualifier:
“Many of them are people who would otherwise be in church,” Putnam said. “They have the same attitidues and values as people who are in church, but they grew up in a period in which being religious meant being politically conservative, especially on social issues.”
Do you see what Dan Harris, the author of the piece, is doing there with that quote? What he’s essentially saying is that if you are non-religious you stand a good chance of being morally corrupt. That because you are atheist or non-religious you lack moral fiber — you don’t vote, you don’t engage in civic responsibility, etc.
By pointing out that non-church goers are good people too, well, that’s based on the opposite assumption that we aren’t.
To which, I call bullshit. That line of thinking, that religious people are the only morally sound and ethically pure people is a disturbing falicy.
The other problem is that Harris doesn’t reveal the parameters of the study. How many people were interviewed, that sort of stuff.