Is the US becoming Western Europe?

Arguably the most nonreligious region in the world, Western Europe has been known for its large population of the self-described "none" when it comes to religion. The 2005 Eurobarometer Poll puts the number of atheists in the EU at 18% and the borderline spiritualists at 27% while only 52% said they believed in a god. According to a study done by USA Today back in early 2009 that compares religiosity in America at the present and in 1990, all religious denominations have seen a decline in numbers. Furthermore, the "no religion" number has nearly doubled, shooting from 8% in 1990 to 15% here in 2009. I attribute these numbers mainly to generational differences such as social liberalization, a repudiation of "traditional" values, easy access to scientific information, and a general disillusionment with religion itself. Nearly all of these reasons were also factors in Europe's own religious decline along with the centuries of Christian/Muslim warfare and the Enlightenment period.
I predict that with the passing of future generations, religiosity will continue to decline until we reach a period of stagnation as churches attempt to completely entrench and focus their efforts in the South and Midwest. I believe that, in looking at the rates of decline in other regions of the world, the non-religious number (this is including atheists, agnostics, and some borderline spiritualists) in the US may hit a peak of 35% (perhaps as high as 40%) before the stagnation based on applying the same trends to the US as in Europe but with slower rates and eventual flat-lining. But this probably won't occur for at least another 50 years (assuming the number of non-religious grows by 4% each decade). It is unclear whether the non-religious could ever get to a majority in the US, but if so, it would take a long time. The time in which the non-religious gain a true majority in Western Europe is very close. And the very sight of a majority non-religious population in the world will be a marvel, unheard of in human history. The only question may be if, or even when, the US follows suit.

Views: 22

Comment by Gaytor on January 7, 2010 at 9:56pm
I can only hope that you are correct. If I can see my grandchildren grow up without superstition here in the US, I'll feel like my life's purpose was lived.
Comment by Robert E. O'Dell on January 7, 2010 at 11:00pm
Hear Hear! (since we're following a European lead)
Comment by Neil Weightman on January 8, 2010 at 3:03am
Robert: An interesting choice of phrase! I associate it with our (UK) parliament, where each session (in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords) has started with Christian prayers since the 16th century, senior management of the Church of England sit unelected in the House of Lords, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York usually get life membership of our highest legislative body on retirement and the head of the Church of England (aka "Defender of the Faith") is also the Head of State. We've still got some way to go.


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2018   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service