Columnist and author Andrew Sullivan said Sunday that atheism was growing in the United States because more and more people saw Christianity as an organization intent on gaining political power.
"I think our ability to be reasonable in politics and faithful in religion, and to keep those two things separate, has atrophied to the great disadvantage of religion," he said during a panel discussion on CBS News' Face the Nation.
Two other members of the panel, Dr. Richard Land and Rev. Luis Cortes, had said that the separation of church and state was meant to prevent the government from infringing on faith. But it was not meant to prohibit religion from influencing the government.
"What has happened since 1960 is that organized groups, like the Southern Baptist Council and other religious groups, have in fact become self-consciously political," Sullivan explained.
"They have become fused with one political party, the Republican Party -- a party that is now defined by a particular religious faith, evangelicalism or far-right Catholic hierarchy. And that is making many people feel that faith in Jesus is about politics and power and partisanship, in ways that's turning off an entire generation. The biggest growth in any belief sector in this country in the last ten years has been atheism."
Sullivan said those religious organizations were "muddying" the real "radical" message of Jesus, which was anti-political. Jesus was "only on the cross because he refused politics."
Watch video, courtesy of CBS News, below: