One in Five Americans Claim No Religious Affiliation

THIS WAS THE FRONT PAGE NEWS YESTERDAY IN’  ‘USA TODAY’, REPORTING ON A NEW STUDY BY THE PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE.

THIS GROUP THAT CLAIMS NO RELIGIOUS IDENTITY IS CALLED THE “NONES”.  GREG SMITH, A PEW FORUM SENIOR RESEARCHER SAYS …”THE RISE OF THE NONES IS A MILESTONE IN A LONG-TERM TREND.”   THE STUDY POINTS OUT THAT THIS GROUP IS NOT DOMINATED BY ATHEISTS AND AGNOSTICS AND SAY THEY BELIEVE IN “NOTHING IN PARTICULAR” BUT REMAIN OPEN TO SPIRITUALITY.  EILEEN LINDNER, A PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR AND EDITOR OF THE YEARBOOK OF AMERICAN AND CANADIAN CHURCHES SAYS,  “WE ARE STILL TWICE AS LIKELY TO BE AFFILIATED WITH A RELIGION THAN EUROPEANS BUT THERE IS STRONG EVIDENCE THAT OUR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS ARE PLAYING A LESS SIGNIFICAN ROLE IN AMERICAN LIFE.”

THIS NEW SURVEY FINDS THAT:

  • 68% BELIEVE AT LEAST SOMEWHAT IN GOD OR A HIGHER POWER
  • AND 58% SAY THEY FEEL A “A DEEP CONNECTION “ WITH NATURE AND THE  EARTH.

THE REPORT CITES CHRIS DEES AS AN EXAMPLE OF THIS CULTURE SHIFT.  DEES GREW UP AS A BAPTIST IN THE MOST RELIGIOUS STATE IN THE USA: MISSISSIPPI, BUT AFTER HIS STUDIES IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING AT THE STATE COLLEGE SAID, “I JUST COULDN’T MAKE SENSE OF IT ANY MORE.”  HE IS CURRENTLY A LEADER OF THE SECULAR STUDENT ALLIANCE CHAPTER AT MISSISSIPPI STATE AND CALLS HIMSELF AN ATHEIST.

THIS TREND IS NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE IT REPRESENTS AN AWAKENING OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND A WILLINGNESS TO CHALLENGE TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN SPITE OF THE TABOO AGAINST THIS ICONIC CULTURAL NORM.

IN MY BOOK, I WRITE ABOUT HOW I BELIEVE RELIGIONS HAVE LED US DOWN THE WRONG PATH.  THEY HAVE INSTRUCTED THEIR PARISHENERS TO BELIEVE IN THE SCRIPTURES AND DOCTRINES, TO HAVE FAITH, AND TO COMPLY WITH THEIR EDICTS THAT CLAIM ALL SORTS OF POWER AND SUPERNATURAL EVENTS ALL POINTING TO A VINDICTIVE GOD SOMEWHERE IN THE SKY.  MY EXPERIENCE IS VERY MUCH LIKE THE STUDENT FROM MISSISSIPPI IN THAT I REALIZED IN MY YOUNGER YEARS THAT I JUST COULDN’T MAKE SENSE OF IT ANYMORE.

I BELIEVE IN A NATURAL GOD THAT IS A FORCE WITHIN US AND IN ALL OF LIFE.  I ALSO BELIEVE WE DO NOT NEED RELIGIONS IN ORDER TO BELIEVE AND HAVE FAITH IN A GOD THAT IS THE FORCE OF CREATION OF LIFE ITSELF.  THIS IS NOT A GOD THAT IS SIMPLY IN OUR HEADS OR OUR HEART, IT IS IN OUR DNA THE VERY CORE OF OUR BEING. AND WE KNOW THIS GOD WITH OUR EVOLVING CONSCIOUSNESS, OUR SOUL.

WE ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS WHO HAVE FOR CENTURIES GIVEN AWAY OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE TO OUR CHURCHES, TEMPLES. MOSQUES, OR OTHER INSTITUTIONS THAT PROMISE TO GUIDE US AND TAKE CARE OF ALL OF OUR SPIRITUAL MATTERS FOR US.

WE NEED TO CLAIM AND TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIVES, AND THAT WILL MEAN LOOKING WITHIN TO OUR CONNECTION WITH OUR OWN SOUL.  ASK YOURSELF IF YOU HAVE A SOUL, AND IF YOUR ANSWER IS IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, TAKE FIVE MINUTES TO WRITE DOWN JUST A PARAGRAPH OR TWO AS TO WHAT YOUR SOUL MEANS TO YOU AND HOW IT MIGHT SERVE YOU.

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