Photo: Young woman near church doors, Lisa A / Shutterstock.com
OK, church folks. Fasten your seat belts. But don’t hunker down.
There’s a new study out this week that shows that one-in-five Americans has no religious affiliation. Not Baptist, not Catholic, not Lutheran, not Jewish, not Muslim.
For those of us in the world of organized religion, this just adds more data to a trend we have seen accelerating over the last decade.
In 2007, about 15 percent of the adult population in the U.S. described itself as unaffiliated with any religion. In a comparable survey done this summer and released on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, the number hit 20 percent. And if you just focus on those under 30, the religiously unaffiliated constitute one third of that group.
Among those of us who are professional religious types, this is the kind of data that can prompt a lot of gloomy introspection about relevance and a lot of finger pointing at those who are not interested in the same kinds of religious expression that we are.
Let me suggest there’s a less gloomy and less judgmental way to think about this data.