The growing secularization of the United States was recently illustrated by a Gallup poll showing that only 47% of U.S. residents attend a church, synagogue or mosque. And according to the Guardian's Adam Gabbatt, the Christian Right is largely to blame: Americans are turned off by far-right White evangelicals.
Gallup has been tracking religious affiliations for more than 80 years, going back to the late 1930s. And the pollster recently asked, "Do you happen to be a member of a church, synagogue or mosque?" — to which only 47% of respondents said "yes." Back in the early 1940s, that number was 73%.
Gabbatt writes that the decline in religious activity is in the U.S. is "in part a result of Millennials turning away from religion, but also, experts say, a reaction to the swirling mix of right-wing politics and Christianity pursued by the Republican Party."
"The evidence comes as Republicans in some states have pursued extreme 'Christian nationalist' policies, attempting to force their version of Christianity on an increasingly uninterested public," Gabbatt explains. "This week the governor of Arkansas, (Asa Hutchinson) signed a law allowing doctors to refuse to treat LGBTQ people on religious grounds, and other states are exploring similar legislation."
David Campbell, who heads the University of Notre Dame's political science department and co-wrote the 2012 book "American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us," argues that the decline in religious activity is an "allergic reaction to the Religious Right."
Campbell told the Guardian, "Many Americans, especially young people, see religion as bound up with political conservatism, and the Republican Party specifically. Since that is not their party or their politics, they do not want to identify as being religious. Young people are especially allergic to the perception that many — but by no means all — American religions are hostile to LGBTQ rights."
During his four years in the White House, President Donald Trump was — despite being a serial adulterer — wildly popular among far-right White evangelicals, who were willing to look the other way when
Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, said that he had extramarital affairs with a Playboy model (Karen McDougal) and an adult film star (Stormy Daniels) and paid them hush money to keep quiet. Trump's pandering to the Christian Right — and their hypocritical willingness to forgive his behavior — was a major turnoff to many Americans. But according to Campbell, the GOP is showing no signs of abandoning "Christian nationalism."
Campbell told The Guardian, "I see no sign that the Religious Right and Christian nationalism is fading — which in turn, suggests that the allergic reaction will continue to be seen. And thus, more and more Americans will turn away from religion."