A Decline in Religion
Although religion is deeply imbedded in American history, it is now on a decline, not only in America but worldwide. The Judeo-Christian beliefs that were utilized as one of the largest tools in the ultimate crafting of the United State Constitution are still prevalent, but are being used as guidelines more than a final say in question of both the law and morality. Is a country that was originally based on the premise that people be free of religious persecution finally enacting its final step: no religion? Or is it straying from its original intention, the freedom to participate in any religion, with the minimum requirement being participation?
The United States government is littered with reminders that religion is still a pandemic in politics, even with the so called separation of Church and State. Cues such as “One nation, under God” are found in the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” are seen on currency. This is the deeply ingrained virtues brought on by the men who, for all intents and purposes, molded this country into what it is today. The qualities given to Americans through constitutional law has been strongly influenced by religion and continued to be reformed by religion, until recently. The decline in religion, in politics specifically, has brought about a different method of constitutional reformation. For those who believe that the original intention was to continue on the path the Founding Fathers had prepared for us, this new path is unconstitutional.
As for the current presidential race, and most prior, religion has played a huge role in targeted demographics and campaign standards. The Republican Party relies heavily on evangelical voters and caters, through debates talking points, rallies and general beliefs, to the religiously affiliated demography. Americans are historically Christian and still are, with only about 8% of religious people in the United States being a separate religion. This means, as a candidate looking to persuade the religious people of America, you must cater to the conglomerate and speak in a manner that entices them.
The current trend points towards the total removal of religion from the lives of citizens in the United States, creating a void where politically religious groups once groomed their voters into followers, but what trend will take its place?
The increased polarization are due to racial and ethnic diversity, as well as religious division and morality. A decrease in religion in the United States may point toward the answer in party unification and political depolarization. This is both a societal and cultural shift that may bring a country built on diversity into an era where a double party system is archaic. As secularism surges, more than 25% of American adults hold no religious affiliation, with even more stating that religion should hold no place in politics. This number is even higher among millennials and higher yet among younger generations, feeding off one another. Socialization, being the number one religious driver, lowers and creates a vast gap to which secularism fills. Secularism brings about a humanistic, rather than religious, values and morals by which the population may live by. With these rather new values, portrayed by a larger portion of the United States, allow for a greater understanding of what the original content of the Constitution may have intended, without biased views and using outside judgement. The decline in traditional religious beliefs concurs with the changes in main religious composition of the Unite States citizens. An increasing amount of Americans are now, more than ever, religiously unaffiliated, including those who identify as either atheists or agnostics paired with many who believe themselves to be “nonreligious”. However, those who claim religious affiliation are becoming increasingly stout in their beliefs, reading of scripture and small prayers. As the older generation is removed from the population, death, the younger generation takes its place with a less religiously driven lifestyle. The amount of people who believe in God has dropped 12% from the Silent Generation to the Millennial Generation (65 years), whereas the amount of people who believe religion is important in everyday life has dwindled by 30%.
So, while religion dials down in the United States, unification seems to be failing as well. Do people need religion as a standard to live by or does it cause more trouble than it claims to help? You be the judge.