The Prospects of American Religion Have Never Been Higher

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York. Suggested reading: Vatican sends greetings to Muslims as Ramadan begins

Source: WSJ

By Ari Lamm

Brick-and-mortar religious communities are shrinking, but digital worship is growing.

A recent Gallup poll included some grim news: Less than 50% of Americans belong to a religious community such as a church or a synagogue, the lowest since the organization began asking the question in 1937. As an Orthodox rabbi, I might feel gloomy about the future of my profession. But the prospects of American religion have never been brighter.

This isn’t solely a testament of faith. When the Pew Research Center asked Americans in 2012 to describe their feelings about spirituality, only 19% said they felt any spiritual stirrings. Five years later, that number rose to 27%—even as the number of Americans who defined themselves as neither spiritual nor religious remained largely unchanged. While more Americans yearn for more spiritual connections, fewer feel comfortable finding them in traditional settings.

This isn’t news for those of us who have dedicated our lives to the rabbinate or priesthood. The reasons for the decline in synagogue and church attendance range from the changing nature of cities to competition with digital communication. Congregating with others in a physical space is a cornerstone of most faiths—I happily do it three times daily—but there’s much more to religion than sitting quietly on a wooden bench and listening to a sermon.

Seen this way, the new Gallup survey should be read not as an obituary but an opportunity. Religion is ripe for disruption, to borrow a term from Silicon Valley: Plenty of Americans still love the product—just not its current platform. Nimble individuals and organizations have a chance to create communities of faith every bit as vibrant and meaningful as those that once huddled in brick-and-mortar buildings. How this is to be done is perhaps the most important question for American civic life in the coming decades.

People attend religious services because they want a spot of religion. Yet worshipers hear too much about climate change, systemic racism and transgender rights and not enough about Abraham, Sarah and Isaac or Luke, Matthew and John. Treating religion like the Academy Awards or the National Basketball Association—which also don’t draw the same attention they used to—has left Americans suspicious about traditional faith. This can be rectified by focusing on what business-school types call the core offering.

Read further

Suggested Reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times, for the best understanding of personal religion in the 21st century

My main suggestion to the open minded readers is to read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”

Islamism — the Political Islam: The Challenge for the 21st Century

Are Religions Pluralistic or Myopic and Parochial?

The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors

I am a Jew, a Catholic, a Christian and a Muslim; I am Zia H Shah

In Defense of the Secular Narrative of the Holy Quran

We Will be Judged by Our Compassion and Deeds and Not Our Dogma

Pope Francis: Satan Is Stalking The Catholic Church

A Message of Compassion and Love from the Holy Bible

Deciding to Leave: The Last Straw that Broke a Catholic’s Back!

Why it’s so hard to hold priests accountable for sex abuse

Abou Ben Adhem, A Compassionate Man

Americans are depressed and suicidal because something is wrong with our culture

Videos: Let Joel Osteen Breathe Hope, Optimism and Success in Your Life

What Can a Quarter of Unaffiliated US Population Find in Islam?

How Islam has Influenced Christian understanding of God

World Leading Christian Apologist, William Lane Craig Always Presents God of Islam and Judaism

24 Video lectures: The Great Courses: How Jesus Became God?

Video: The most famous Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, accepts there is no Trinity in the Old Testament

Book Review: The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession

The Concept of Justice in Islam by Sir Zafrulla Khan

‘Islamic Law’: A Myopic Reading of the Quran

Proposing Daryl Davis as a Peace Maker for Palestinians and Israel, for he attends KKK rallies, despite being black

Kripkean Dogmatism: The Best Metaphor to Understand Religious and Political Debates

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.