Transcript for Nonreligious Americans are growing political force | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast
Hello and welcome to 530 politics podcast idea wondering. Before we get going as you like Leno Minneapolis police officer Derek shipment was found guilty on all three charges in the murder trial of torture. It's been almost a year since George Ford's death sparked protests around the country. I don't last Thursday as part passed we discussed how views of police reform and the black lies matter movement had changed since. If you miss our podcast I'd encourage you to ego check. Today we're going to talk about religion in America and what the declining number of religiously affiliated Americans. Tells us about our society and politics. In a recent Gallup survey the number of Americans who belong to a church mosque or synagogue became a minority for the first time since tracking began. Just twenty years ago 70% of Americans belong to one of those houses a porch today it's 43%. While that does not mean that a majority of Americans are not religious the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans has also been increasing. And now matches the numbers who were either evangelicals. Will cast. Religion plays an important role and how people view the world identified politically and to vote. Do you need to discuss what these trends mean our senior politics record in Jr. hit Perry. It is the altar at us is political science professor at Eastern Illinois University Brian Burch heels pastor in the American Baptist Church. And recently wrote a book on religiously unaffiliated Americans called. The nuns where they came from who they are and where they're of course that's nuns as an and and you ask not and you and passed but welcome Brian thanks for joining mr. Thanks so much -- me on Gayle. So we have a lot to discuss but. To set the context for this conversation. How significant is religious identification. For determining political. That's obviously incredibly complicated right because religion in her actual race which interacts with age with interacts with. Rural vs urban what we do know is that there's identifiable patterns in the American electorate when it comes to religion. In some ways what we're seeing his political polarization sort who leaked into religious polarization. On one side we gobble up books about the nuns which are growing rapidly. But also are becoming a more and more central part of the Democratic Party the coalition that goes for Democrats is becoming a bigger share of nuns every single year. And on the other side we've got. Christians especially white Christians are a core part of the Republican Party yours couple stats. In 201851%. Of Americans identified as white in Christian. It was 75%. Of Republicans are Whiting Christian. And 38%. Of Democrats are Whiting Christian. Sold really seeing is we're seeing sort of this religious divide. Kind of leaked into the political lineup which one caused the other obviously is almost impossible to figure out but it does seem like in America more more people are coming to understand to be religious especially white in religious is to be conservative or Republican. In to be religiously unaffiliated. Is to be a Democrat a liberal. Yet here you learn Ryan recently wrote about this for the web site and you spent a lot of time looking at survey isn't talking to Americans. How do you kind of conceptualize the role religion plays in how Americans view politics in the world. The giving out say it's like. Units as a live. Black religious people are activity very democratic and one thing that's very distinct is as he says. Among white people that tends to be mormons he tends to go along with more conservatism. Among average Americans that's not the same pattern. Latino had a little more complicated it's on to for Ryan I wrote he knows a little bit in those. Yes so with you know Protestants in two point 18 were 5050 like literally split right down the medal. But Latino Catholics are a whole different story date were two to one. For Joseph Biden in in 20/20 which tells you you offered them religion that type of Christian you are actually matters a lot because. American protestantism has sort of become synonymous with American evangelical isn't which is becoming more and more conservative as every year passes but a lot. Of Hispanic Catholics come from. A tradition that's more about liberation theology let's it has its roots in central and South America where the church is socialist and subways and radical it's awaits the laughed. If so those ideas sort of kind of come into the American eat thoughts especially Hispanic or not predominately Hispanic Catholic church's. So we're seeing really is we're seeing a divide even amongst Hispanic community between Protestants were 5050 but. If you look at just Hispanic evangelicals. Are 6535. Her cell with a lot of you know some third party voting in there. But overall we're seeing is the Catholic vote Hispanic vote is going to the left. But we're also seeing Hispanic evangelical vote going to the right so that's really an interest in community that sort of fracturing I think the Perry's right Bob Black Protestants. I think one was interesting problems facing the modern Democratic Party. Is that it's becoming a larger and larger the nuns especially atheist agnostic were incredibly liberal incredibly fart of the left. What the other side that won the course of the Democratic Party is black Protestants who a majority of them do not favor same sex marriage and are not in favor of a lot of pro choice program so how do you hold a cool coalition together when you have very far left nuns. But you also have a lot of pretty conservative black Protestants at the same time it that's a problem for them going forward. Yet so how would you describe that different religious groups in America. And perhaps by political identity. Yes so. Really amongst. Amongst Christians you've got your evangelicals who are 80% Republican they voted 80% for Donald Trump in 20/20. But they've got another group called mainline Protestants in period I wrote about this in the piece that I think they're such an interesting group because. They are like the United Methodist Church the Episcopalians united church Christ. They're catchers used to beat the largest church in America in the 1930%. Of all Americans were mainline Protestant today it's only 10%. So Derek group that traditionally was just slightly right of center and today they're 5050 they're literally split in half some are Republicans and some are Democrats but the kind of Republicans they are not evangelicals are more lyrical country club Republicans which means they want low taxes because ought to have higher educations and high incomes that's what the government out of their lives but they're cool he smoked weed eater you know that route you wanna marry your whatever. However. On you know on economic issues they want small government now Catholics are really interesting story 'cause we just talked about white Catholics are training. To the Republican side while Hispanic Catholics are turning to the other side. Yet the Catholic Church America's becoming more racially diverse. Then you've got a whole bunch of sort of smaller religious traditions like Hindu Mormon Buddhist Muslim. They are actually trending toward the Republicans put together they don't really make up that big of a share. And then obviously that we got the nods which is what we just talked about the nuns are growing rapidly there were twenty due version of the population 2008. And her 34% of the population today over 40% a mall in heels and agency identified as religiously unaffiliated in their growing rapidly so. You know that is that that is the growing religious electorate that we be thinking about going for is that guns they tend to vote. Atheists agnostic or 75% for the Democrats the other group which is what the books about a group called nothing in particular. They are not so liberal they're actually in the middle of the political spectrum but they make up 20% of all Americans they're black they're white they're young or old. They have a couple things in common but the big thing they have in common is that low income low education. And I think they're actually the swing vote. In in the modern religious electorate the other groups are pretty much locked in they're not switching over time that nothing in particular are where the elections Gotti won and lost in the future I think. This is going a little bit Alan Ryan's getting it is. You know maybe ten over the years ago you talked about people were non religious mostly mostly thinking about chem lights. Educated liberal people but that now we're talking about the people who say they are now Utley with a religious domination. Is a third of Americans that needs are getting beyond just sort of white youngest liberals these codes that are more more black people are younger like more Latino people younger people. All the people were Democrats are moving away concerns so you're subject genius like once to a third of America's you get beyond anything you're getting everybody to some extent. And when Ryan's book is really Smart about what I really learn from it is. As he said it is like this this sort of no religious bloc is one other people. Eight instant and nasty excerpts are sort of distinct. From people who disdained I think your particular eight years and it not it's not that they have very defines that religion. They don't accident don't believe in and there's more hostile to it. They are skeptical of it and those people are very educated more male more very very democratic. And then there's nothing to particular group which is much bigger atheist and ignited about. 10% of Americans this nothing to lose about 20% of Americans in there they're more likely they don't go to church anymore maybe their parents but they're not gonna say 98 years they don't have. Strong his police either and therefore are so they're not as educated they're more racially diverse one limits in the peace winners. The black pleasant manner move it is not religious itself in his income the black church but blacked sort of nominates people tend not to be a their parents with a terrorist about it visitors so they're not anti church they're not sat in church themselves and that's different than agnostic atheist president might be kind of wary of church itself in Canada where your religion. So it sounds like this agnostic atheist group it's something or. Pretty familiar whereas in terms of white American culture it's been relatively visible for awhile. But this nothing in particular which may mean people who have maybe some vague. Religious views but don't Tokyo Toronto at one particular religion why is that community growing to the extent that it. One of the possible explanations as people are just being more honest and on the used to be you know there's this thing we worry about social science called social desirability bias. Which we are well yeah yeah how yeah yeah which is the idea after long questions conservatives lie to you they tell you what they think you want to hear not what actually going on their lives. If so for a long time to get due to be an American was to be a Christian so if you ask you know what argued as emigration approximate count whatever it is. Even though you have many church in decades or years at least right yet no real attachment to it. But what's happened over time is as it's become more socially acceptable have no religious affiliation. It says and your Christian or Catholic on a survey you'll just say. You know what you can't actually opt in to me after the nothing in particular category is sort of shrug categories I'm not opposed to religion. Right but I'm also not an atheist or agnostic either if you look at things like church attendance you know. Almost no ladies ever goes to church and very few agnostic ever go to church but something like 30% of nothing in particular actually go to church once a year or more. So you know they're not completely detached for religion they just don't like believable that's attached to it. So when people ask you why they grown so rapidly entirely convinced they're growing. I'm just more convinced their revealing themselves in being more honest with what they really are which I think it subways and social scientists is great because we're seeing people what they actually are now. Not what we eat what they think we should you know what the should be but you'll paired like I think -- exactly right I think this is so so key like education thing existed some analysis today on that. 47%. Atheists have a college degree and 45% diagnostics. It's only about 21% of nothing in particulars they're literally the least educated. Religious group in America today. In what comes economic 60% nothing in particular make less than 50000 dollars a year. With 35% of atheist I mean when it comes on where they are demographically they could not. Be more different you know sort of putting together into one group is really to sort of paper over not just small differences but dramatic differences. And I think the way that you know parties needs for reaching out these groups have to be completely different because what nothing in particular one. Is not at all. What atheist and agnostic want a lot of W particular just wanted to make more money you know higher minimum wage you know made reason universal health care. Atheists are worried more about things like racial issues or social issues can make polonium on. So I think you know that's what the parties and heightened come around understanding what these groups need. And that nothing in particular group that needs a lot from the government but he's just not not well equipped to organize to make. Yeah that's an interesting point I think when we look at some other countries or even other religions in the United States as you mention. Euro for example we think you know Joseph locals as having a well defined political identity and think of Jews are having a pretty well defined political identity. In a carpet like France there's a pretty well defined political identity around secularism. Is that the keys at all amongst nonreligious Americans. The issue with Americans were generically religious we still larger religious even though the fact that 13 of us say we have no religious affiliation. We have a cult civic religion in this country so to be an American is to be religious I think that's what separates us from your even today. And by the way Europe is way more secular than we are even a country like Italy. 80% of people Italy don't go to church once a week I mean here it's thirty or 40% of people or in church at least once a month or more so we're still more religious than they are. But were also cultural. More religious than they are you know for instance politicians in France or Germany or never say something like god bless France are godless Germany but in America every politician regardless of whether it was Donald Trump or Joseph Biden or Barack Obama. Well as in speeches by saying god bless American and several gonna go yeah that you know given that we trust our money. We are just more of a generic lead Christian tradition I think that's actually one of the reasons why atheist agnostic numbers are so low in America. Because there's a lot of bias against atheists in this country if you actually asked them to rate them you know great people Arthur mom or school work from 100 being very warm. And zero being very coal idea for 2012 shows that Democrats. Rated atheists second from the bottom only above the Tea Party. In 2012 so it's not like the Democratic Party. Is he would embrace an embracing atheism either so there still a lot of you know discrimination or prejudice that this kind of built up in America. Against he is community. Perry to talk a little about this we talk a lot of the African American community. Atheism in that community is is almost nonexistent. Yet the numbers show very low numbers of black people say that there an atheist and very shows listener agnostic as well. And I think even the Democratic Party. You can tell that secularism is not that strong because Joseph Biden talks it is faith every ten seconds so it's like even in the even in the Democratic Party you can tell. And you know Obama on the matter how much with the church he definitely besides his christianity. Biden does practice regularly Donald throng was not some of the accusers or July the play that up during his campaigns I think we as Ryan sit right enamel. I think if one party had a leader who was sort of openly non Christian or openly nonreligious that might even. Increase these numbers further in terms of secularism is I think right now we have saluting. I'm not that religious identity is okay but this sort of I am a validly a religious naral does is not something. There's very strong in the culture but I think that you had one canopy must politician who made it more simple might change that. So we were saying earlier that. In part this made these days people are being increasingly honest winners pollsters and he surveys as it becomes more culturally acceptable to. You know not the associated with religion even if it's still not totally culturally acceptable to be. Atheist. I just in time we are seeing a change in behavior it's not just what they're telling pollsters rightly. Ditto attendance at church or belonging to a church synagogue or mosque did you know right I started off this conversation by saying that those numbers are falling significantly. Why is that happening. Yeah I think it's it's two things the nuns always talked about rising rapidly. But there's this other thing going on American religion thing is under covered by a lot of folks who don't like the into the guts of what prosecutors you know he's about especially. And that is the fastest growing Protestant tradition in American eyes nondenominational. Protestant christianity. Almost all these church by the way are evangelical. You know that means they're conservative ideologically a lot of conservative politically. They're growing very rapidly gets the mega church he see on TV on Sundays they broadcast in other their services to its it to cable news networks a lot of them. But here's the thing. A lot it was nondenominational church is actually pride themselves on being. Everything at church is not what they are so like if their membership in the episcopal church we don't have membership. A lot of these nominations you know have rules that they backed you know decades and centuries. Nondenominational don't take a role all they don't have membership all its outdated and outmoded concept. And so what happens is people instead of making strong tie Easter traditions though they have really weak ties traditions we actually you're seeing. A lot of nondenominational to move from one denomination to another nondenominational backed foundational back in fort. But what's really interesting to me is. It's not like these nondenominational adding new people. If you look at economic shall declined Southern Baptist Convention which the largest evangelical. Denomination America a large denomination America period. Almost everyone who left of about convention. Over the last thirty years which in became nondenominational even Jill. So it's doctor switching traditions right they're just moving from an old style of worship to a new style of worship. And you know from late for me demographic perspective that's incredibly hard for us in the Cuban membership roll. Will we ask you argue a member of a church that's an anachronistic idea that they. Dates back you know fifty years of people go no like every week I'm not a member anywhere so I think its the non driving that down. But I also think it's you know the idea decent free membership as a religious concept. It's also driving that down as well from asking a reality that some people are still religious they're just not members. Anywhere. I mean I do you think. People are going to church list who I think that is true and I think we are now. You know I'm and I'm 47 this sort of you know I'm just this up the W like yes but I think in a certain way we knew him I mean you know our agent Scott as the millennial. I think ten reality of but I don't think it might have been anyway that the parent Sarah Bernard doubles arm anyway. So. And I think we now the old pattern was people. Maybe grow inserts. Win take colleges. In their twenties may be stopped going to church and enhance his went back to search. And the millennial generation particularly is now he's into buying a house. Having kids but not going to search I think those. You've you go to the means the sort of Methodist Church threaten have you around communities that you find is the older people are dying. The literally dying and the younger people in their forties their kids are not going to Turks and we now. In her to phase two where adults. There's no longer involved involves joining a church formally Euro economies. And I think that is a saint connecting just generally and I see that. More in black areas and I and he I knew that you know bring up a new a lot of you know hybrid intact in low light would editors now I'm no more black Madonna concerts either and I think that is now estimates now grown this sort of disengagement. You know we have a religion on Sunday at picking recently its needs the NFL and I think that is sort of we're our society's changing at a certain. You know Perry talked with all the expected term this an electrical the life cycle effect said he had he religious when your kid. You dripped from religion your twenties and you comeback regulates points early thirties and yet kids get married all those things. In if you look at the data now that that is not happening at all like every every birth cohort now is less religious today that it was ten years ago. I mean every birth or even people who reportedly the 1930s and 1940s. And there's this whole idea of people that like old you get more religious as you as you get old pitcher cramming for the final. Riley you're making sure that he died yeah that's awesome until it. But the reality is that's actually not true anymore either like people in their sixties and seventies are actually less religious today and they were like in 2008. You know even like at the same level like 8% less religious today than they were twelve years ago now amongst younger generations tires are eleven or 12%. At increased the non rate but it's. Secular nation has hit. Everything. In every body and every racial group every each every region. Every political party week you can't get away from it when it's 33% of the population I think. We don't fully understand what it means for the future. What only 60% of people consider themselves religious how many churches are gonna close how many charities are gonna close right what are we gonna do these social services these churches are doing right now in twenty years when they don't exist anymore. This is is a look a lot differently elect the first you know agnostic president or senator right now we haven't done. We are we are on the president's significant cultural and religious changed and were only beginning to understand what that really means. I want to talk about what that specifically means for our politics you mentioned how our society's changing as it becomes west religious and churches synagogues mosques houses of worship become outlast the center of our communities. How much are these religious institutions structure and our politics and as they potentially fade. How will that change that we we do politics. So let me see in on the democratic side I think is that the old way to. You know I'm John Kerry I'm gonna president I'm going to kill black people. In the end here's my list of seven churches and a gutsy one knee in Ohio or in whatever swing state I think those days thorough reading this one thing we can help clearly is like. These sort of black church is the organizing function for democratic activism. For democratic votes that you should go easy go to that church two to talk to older people and that's one way to mobilize them believe document under fifty black crowd that's not the way to do that you're trying to beat the leaders of yell if that's not the way. To do that's I think that's one placed ago. Although Republicans. I think what you're seeing is assist in this I do think ye you know I wouldn't they have the numbers of it like. 13. Of Republicans are white you are buried and jokers in Everett Renton an answer to the number you we think get evangelicals be the Robert imparted a most Eden. Most Republican voters are not union helical. And increasing numbers of Republican voters are not religious and also a small number of its the number that's growing so. I think the Republican Party if you look at it closely he's becoming a little less can of the Christian right in a little bit more and anti woke is or sort of like in tag identity politics are kind of cultural conservatives of the blue that is a bit broader than just religion. Because I think if you. You know trump was not legacy of George W. Bush was really are very religious person's problems not trump sort of a heel to religious but the the evangelical base is both big enough to where the Republican Party. CN afford to ignore it. But I think the idea that the Republicans are more focused on. Strands. Issues than saying gay marriage the number of transamerican is fairly small number of gay Americans vs one point large they can't really expect to change these little bit so I just think. The evangelical right as it was organized. In Indiana but it couple decades ago is not as powerful. And therefore it has to move to different issues and Kenneth smaller snapping the Republican. Candidate in their own party be culturally conservative I think but not necessarily Christian right now I think that's ardea. I think Perry's. Perry on some that I think is so crucial that we had only begun to really conceptualize which is the religious right with the top down movement. And it was orchestrated by guys like Paul Weyrich Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. You know to go down using denominational networks to activate people at the local level low turnout vote. So domination for very strong in 1990s the use of southern Baptist convention's leagues is everywhere in this country. In the 1990s like we talked about we're seeing a decline. In the you know the number of denomination evangelicals we're seeing a dramatic increase in the number nondenominational. Evangelicals. It's really really hard to communicate. To these nondenominational church is because by very definition they are top down or bottom up. So you're Republican politician trying to run a state policy nationally. You can't go to sort of adds convention and talk to. A million or two million people all at once you've got to go to this church at 50000 that your says 8000. Because there's no networks that connected anymore it's what's happened with evangelicals in this in this country is has gone from top own. To bottom up. And as a lot. Harder to organized. You know two to get these people in line when they're a bottom up it actually there's evidence now that one of the reasons that we got. Donald Trump was B classes we lost that top down structure that we had want your thirty years ago. Even Falwell and Robertson those guys probably would have not back Donald Trump if they were still alive they would they would pick another team. Right but because those guys don't exist anymore it's all bottom up in the bottom of does the evangelical the bottom up the rank and file or incredible EE. Conservative over 55%. Of white evangelicals in this country today to reduce legal immigration to this country by 50%. 35%. Favored the family separation policy of the trump administration. So taken together they are weighing more conservative than even what the religious right was when you're thirty years ago an ethic and some laced. No one speaks for white evangelical isn't anymore it's all does these islands are all working you know kind of in concert did not release sometimes it disorganized way. To get out the vote and that's one of the reasons that don't troubles the company now more a more establishment candidate like cruise. Or rubio who would have been the nominee I think twenty years ago. This is a complicated question but why do you political and religious identity overlap so much. And it's also a kind of chicken or egg question which is that. Does people's like religious tradition inform how they B Hayes politically. More do other kind of fundamental characteristic slight. Reads were maybe even education or income or each. More define kind of their political behavior but that also graft onto the religious identity. And you probably can't separate the two as it is perfectly it's question right suggest but where the boundaries between Mike why we can talk about you know. Even gyro like white evangelicals there they are all voting for Republicans you know Jews at 8090% of the voting for Democrats look at black Protestants at the same levels their verdict for Democrats like why is there so much overlap. Between religious identity and political views. We used to assume that religion was like sort of the first cause in politics was downstream from that like that's what the literature always were assumed for decades. Because it makes it strike and were taught to have no pastor we teach our people have a biblical worldview relics you to whirling Jesus would so it makes sense that politics is downstream of that but. There's been some recent work Michelle Margolis is book from politics and pews relayed to south I think really well a couple of pieces recently using really good handle data. That shows that people now are sorting their religion. Based on their politics. So they're actually picking a church. That matches their political persuasion more so they're picking your church basement theological positions of that church. And that's something we've never seen before it doubles like politics has become. The first cause and that everything is sort of downstream from that in our lives now. Were actually seeing now in terms of you know sorting things out. One of the big things and write about a lot recently is this idea of who are self identified. Evangelicals. And self identified evangelical therefore we ask you you know we have fugitives two separate questions what are you your religious tradition that we ask you do you consider yourself to be evangelical. The share of people who never attend church or sell them attend church but also identify as evangelical. Has gone from 16%. To 25%. Right so now we're seeing never attending church never attending church evangelicals. If you bought you can't beat them like yet UK and because people are beginning to understand evangelical. Is not eighty religious or theological identifier anymore it's becoming cultural. In political identifier so to be eight to be it Republican. Is to be an evangelical. Right and to be a Democrat is to not believe it wouldn't be being a Muslim or being in on her being AG or whatever it is it's like where the public is figuring now. That there's a religious divide this country and it lays on top the political divide and I think the evidence is for mounting now. That politics is causing all those things happen much more than religions causing it happen. It's worth noting like historically. Lacked shirts. Black church denominations the black church is an entity. Was started. Uses a kind of alternative to white churches who were viewed as being insufficiently concerned. Bill going back to even opposing slavery here closing Jim Crow so blacks or does it count always been political. In a lot of the evangelical Whiting and filters movement started in the week round do you board of education some charges started the and that was part of a movement. Part of who started the Roe vs. Wade so deep that it won't even have waiting resulted as Everett Republican is kind of like this kind of feature of what they've kind of always been. Detective black churches are kind of a line with black political causes each year what they've always been so in that way churches always been political. Where I think it's changing is this in this sort of outside of those two is that. Increasingly a lot of people who used to be Democrats and Christian they have moved they've come to view christianity. White missing white. Democrats who once christened the team to believe that Chris Villa Kristen means being a Republican and there are Republicans of their moving away. From christianity and as Ryan city policies even some Republicans who. Or before and a different kinds of Christians are saying neon even yell over the unions means. Being a republic means are being is open your hole in the same things you're seeing. Alignment of religion and politics that was than usual or in some ways. Religion is following politics as Ryan was so but also. Religion was always connected to politics is that some of that as artisans gimmick to the structure. And in 1976. 50% of white weekly churchgoer for Democrats. So that's Catholics and Protestant 50% and 35% were Republicans. And now it's 50% Republicans and 25% are Democrats the church has never been so politically. Of divided as it is you know in the last fifty years at least as it is right now because basically to be. Why in Christian and devout be wiped out you know ghost church once a week is to be a Republican more and more and even. Amongst moderate denominations like the united Methodist they becoming more Republican over time to so. Really this fusion between white christianity and republicanism is only growing stronger over time. Adding it's casting out a lot of moderates who are becoming religiously affiliated because they just cannot fitted with increasingly conservative churches. In reading your book there are lots of charts can't conceptualize all of this data that talking about our and you see that as you chart religious tradition over time in America. Although the religious traditions you've seen a little bit of decline but relatively stagnant that's the case amongst Catholics is a months. Protestants Jews things like that. But then when you look neat line Protestants you just see the numbers of Americans affiliated with that religious tradition. Peter crater at the same time you see you kind of religiously unaffiliated people rising. It is trying to basically looks like and acts so I'm wondering did mainline Protestants has become religiously unaffiliated debate. Filter out to different religions and that's right those religions didn't decline so much like what is going on with. White mainline Protestants are. Yes those 30% of American 1976 is 10% today and it's on track he 5% by 23. The average male I'm prices almost sixty years old now and the episcopal church on Friday half the size it is today in ten years. A because only 15% of his couples have children hall I mean there are some staggeringly bad numbers remain iPod since because. They use that these were the upper educated sort of you know more sophisticated type Chris I called polite Christians. Guess they're gonna tell you're going to hell with the gonna go to church wants you twice a month and they're gonna help out with the food pantry you know it's like the social thing to do. But unfortunately what's happened. There's a lot of them were driven out. In the 1990s. Is really what evangelicals at its peak. It got almost a 30% in 1993. And I was really L confluence of events that was win abortion became a national issue. The summer of mercy happened in 19901991. Where abortion became German national talking point when it wasn't really before that. But the other thing happened Newt Gingrich contract with America 1994. Falwell Robertson told angels at its peak. And you know evangelicals are very good about telling you what it means Christian what it means that not Christian. And it looked a lot of mainline rods that are really Christians you know you don't really belong here because you don't believe all things that we believe about. You know the virgin birds and that little resurrection in which women can't be pastors and things like this. And so a lot of Methodists you know or Episcopalians were moderate said you know what. I'm sick of trying to be lumped in with the Falwell's on the Robertson's and evangelicals in the Jim Baker's. I don't like church that much anyway so I'm out. I'm on leave and it's easy to become a not I'd get up on Sunday go to church afterward up dopamine the donation box so which is easier to be in line right. That's part of it. But here's the here's really where religious changes happening. It's it's generational replacement. Right older generations who are more religious are dying off and remain liners are old so they're dying off rapidly. And they're not being replaced with many young mainline Protestants right so if you look at you know prince is eighteen to 25 girls when they come into adulthood. Used to got 10% of them were guns and debates over 30% of governance so what's happening is history is being raised nuns now. So there's less switching I think it just replacement where people are raised with no religious tradition at the other thing that we haven't thought about is. What do we do we have second and third generation families who were nuns all lead back to the grandparents we've really never seen that Arnold large scale before. It really we'd do what we know is retention is really hard to break so the knowledge retention used to be about 30% annual raise none would stain on his adult. Now it's about 70%. So what we're gonna see is a lot more solidifying I think in the nuns are gonna grow because people who were born nuns are going to be state nuns as they become adults. So. With the main line Salem became evangelicals small portion a lot of became nines but that a lot of has died off. And were replaced by less and less room drew religious people who came into adulthood which is less attachment to any religion all mainline Protestant or even joke or anything else. We'll be right it's in the book that I think it's important to emphasize is that we tell a story about people who are more liberal moving from church because that's right. There's another story here which is that generally society's. Countries you know Europe for example they have high education levels and high income levels. Are not particularly religious and so America is also having a lot more people with college degrees and master's degrees. And may be in maybe it maybe if we had a how we were we've been hired after a long time. But it may have been in and sort of inevitable course that America would be used. More a religious the way Europe is and is in were some of catching up to that courts anyways there may be a story here is and less about. Cult sur dynamic that is more belt like education. And just generally weren't so to be European bound country on some level and we're sort of catching up. To that and so Mike Simpson of acres of Ryan needs we we might get up in ten years we have is. We have black in black and Latino people go to church more than Jones a separate them out. We made up what sort of like. White searches that are nondenominational. What really are just full of Republicans. And in white Democrats who don't have to inserts a dollar call themselves and tickets whenever and the insanity core group of black and Latino people who Samoa or noticeable improvement in shirts I think this were working at it is. A world in which sir Arnold ton of white Democrats in the church. And there are a lot of require Republicans still do go to church and Arlen churches that have white Democrats and Republicans in the middle. Yet that's that's really I think the biggest story is that. Like trees if you're a white Christian liberal especially in rural or you know suburban America there's no church for you anymore. I mean a less what butchers of people or 75 years old episcopalian who were declining rapidly and even the united Methodist who wore the second largest denomination actually split. And the next couple years over the issue of gay marriage and the conservatives are right I think big hunk of this. So a year it's passing to meet two thirds of Americans are in favor of same sex matters right now. But you cannot find a church in those rural counties in America that would do a same sex what. I mean there's just such a huge divide cultural divide over you know what social issues but also cultural issues. In what we're seeing I think also in the social part of the story is we're seeing a lot of education hiker talked about secular nation comes education but even people who do get educated. Leave rural areas in go to suburban urban areas. You know in a lot of don't get attached to a religious tradition right so the people who stay stay in the church they grew up in people who leave. You'll ever get reattach the church and often are moderates or liberals so. It's a troll right the idea that rural America is Christian America. But he is becoming increasingly true overtime to BE white Christian rural America is to be Republican in I don't see anything. Turning that around actually I think I see it accelerate. If anything over the last five years I think to a like we'll Donald Trump is gonna turn off white evangelicals are gonna turn people off to christianity. The share of Americans who self identify as evangelical is that the same today. As it was twelve years ago. So he is not hurt evangelicals and as a brilliant at ball. However like we talked about the are less religious. But there's still about 2425%. Of the population and are still incredibly Republicans actually more Republican today than they were. Even a decade ago so it's really is seven whistler purifying. You know aspect work the people were left or even more Republican people who work left a long time ago when wit to become something else. Rhetoric that happens oftentimes we're kind of group identity as you see yourself as more. All an outsider or smaller group the group identity becomes even stronger. In the even if you're saying that the actual levels of religiosity oral tapped client. I'm curious. That it kind of looking ahead. Religion has in many ways. Served as and organizing structure principles for American life for a long time. And as we've mentioned politics. As America becomes less religious what do you believe. Structure our society and politics. Around it does politics become its own religion. Partner other kind of liked secular institutions or organizations that come into play I lived in Madison for awhile Madison Wisconsin they actually had its freedom from religion foundation. Which cause you know as you can imagine it's like a very progressive. White college educated towns or states that the stereotypes of an atheist or an agnostic but like. Why what B calms the kind of organizing structure principal for society and politics. I definitely mrs. lists academic and Morton's cannot what I see its yield to me like. Crossed it gyms yoga. On the left puzzled visited an exercise culture that's oyster Bronx as an exercise culture maybe runs over to a specific answers culture on the left the sort of taken veterinarians and because. In Alvin takes place on Sundays you meet together with the same people. I think that's partly I think some other sort of Twitter social justice. Who reading Hebrew Kennedy book sitting there is up there's a religious aspect of sort of that part. Of the left as well that I think people. Are sort of getting motivated and energized me each other reading the same books trying to push forward and I think that's part of it is well site do you think there's. Part of it that's sort of do you left ripping the icu. On the right and I think there is still a fair amount of light churchgoing as such I'm not certain is that is certain is what sort of replacing that we think right. That's you know I live in a rural area like I forty opulent 151000 and it feels like. Religion is still very strong church going is still very much the norm here but the other thing it's actually growing sports. You'll local sports kids' sports travel sports. It almost had kids around here you've got a light travel two hours to go to turn every weekend. And that's souls become sort of some word weird like pseudo community for a lobbies parents there get to play all these different sports and that'll tie together. But I I think will we are just beginning to understand like the impact social media is having. Everywhere in this country especially in small towns like FaceBook is 00 so influential in small towns in America when you have the mayor. Or the coroner or the share of posting things political things on FaceBook all the time. I think that it's always organizes these groups in some sort of weird way it sort replaces. Religion and a lot of ways and I think that. America is becoming even more fragmented to by the way I think you know urban idea idea the urban lonely digital living apartment so urban America is that is doing now but also real Americans and is in religion declines how. Have to be replaced by something. You know people like all be so happy when religions gone in America but my thought is do you think it's not be replaced by something it's not as bad if not worse. That religion I mean. Europe has not sold all its problems because it threw off religion. In the post war period is just replace them with there are things you know lobby this thing is religion is just a totem for lots of other things going on society. Whether do you race or whether gender whether it be ethnicity or whether it be politics. Those divisions human beings are very good about treating us vs them Weathers Catholic vs Protestant Republican vs Democrat. We are always got to find ways to separate ourselves in different groups and the decline of religion is letting these other things I think politics is chief among them. Rise up and become your take on even more prominence in the lives of the average American that he did he would have twenty years ago. Acting there are some dangers of the decline it was and is Ryan's game is like the black black churches have been up killer of communities where people. You know get food they can't support. They get so once you are used as a dozen as very big uses of that. White guilt or hasn't traditionally had refugee programs they've supported people what you have active units out you'd need support. So churches are actually an institution that had been helpful for a lot of people for. Generations they have out of city create division as well site that I think. Where does that go and sort of where abuses that can help you if you need help and what do those look like. Is there real question and also doesn't payments over the years ago you know commodity called bowling alone and also just this sort of churches do you provide a sense of community. And bowling leagues do to him we are seeing a general sort of fragmentation. And institutions. While people look on their YouTube Twitter and FaceBook accounts. For community and I think we're I think received more studies showing why. Dance problematic and I think it's already clear the affected people believe so much misinformation is prominently in the fact that they're not. Down any institutions that have rules and norms and saw. I was thing in in my head like. So if if church goes away church provides food for people closer people prides or you know refugees places to go. It churches don't do that who is going to step in the gap I mean. Atheist agnostic growing rapidly I don't see them setting up social service organizations that work on even at a regional level or state right so how are they gonna fill the gap. Do you want the government to fill the gap. In freight is a not a lot of was a yes I do want the government to fill the gap for lots of Americans big dull moment. More government in involved in anything so it church declines and the government doesn't step up. Then what do we have we have as the site has fewer social safety nets not more and I think that generally create a worst outcome for all of us. I think we really you'd think about the impact the social impact the church has as much as that religious and theological. Are there any social or political advantages to a society becoming less religious I don't that's a weird question to ask our pastor. But. Obviously there's a pretty grim picture that we've painted of the direction that America is headed dead. Does it have to be set out. You know I think in the book I write about secular nation was basically inevitable like globalization was inevitable you know we. Politics have been trying to hold back globalization for decades now with tariffs in. You know artificial wage supports and subsidies in the Audi -- out of what we get. We got more offshore we got more globalization no matter how hard you fight secular nation. There are how many do wager churches or how evangelistic events you guys do you still losing people that is a natural course what secular nations going to do. I don't. I don't see anything that's going to be better. With fewer churches in America because right now I think you'll self selected churches who were hurt by the and by the way I do not want to minimize of all the fact that churches have heard people. You know especially LG BT community racial minorities especially women in conservative churches they've all been hurt by religion. But I think. Generally speaking you know at the aggregate level religion does this thing called social capital like her was talking about. The idea that we care about our neighbors we care our communities and some in the church you know helped us create. And durst is nothing in American society that replaces that in any meaningful way. In social media actually I think makes it worse than a lot of ways so we're really all these bridges that were built over the last fifty said he not yours to churches are now slowly eroding. And there are being replaced by nothing. So we're gonna be on islands that are disconnected from each other and it's much easier to be tribal if you don't know your neighbor if you don't you interact with him on Sunday to Sunday basis you'll see them. As someone like you easier to some different and you. That's not a good picture for the future Americans works like I did not see any social organizations that union gonna fill that gap. It seems to me even note one each when he was a very close election in twenty seamless well. Any culture in which there's less religiosity. Is generally going to favor the Democratic Party. It is is long and that network for growing less religious and Republican parties trying to hold onto his of the religious tenor. It would seem to mean its secular nation is going to help the Democratic Party or. Police force the Republican Party to be Mora left in order to weakness seems to me this is an advantage for the Democratic Party. And so that's kind of policy over the sciele part of it like it was game it was that I think that there are some good elements seem. Centralization of the people who church did not work for -- the question is like. We look at the polls suggest as a declining trust in the media in government in the police in churches and so on. And held a weed rebuild trust in some kinds of institutions. And therefore trusting each other. I think is maybe inadequate and I had thirty podcast is still like an important question about how we cannot rebuild trust and it seems to me that. It is now if you maybe churches have lost trust me people get a think about what is to two Asians and what people we can build trust. The downsides of the two party system is that the Democrats have to figure out how to keep black Protestants happy. But also atheist Republicans the figure out you to Christian nationalist happy. But also maybe some moderate or even you know slightly right of center ninths I mean these are tough things we have did you go and Ford but. Then does on the battlefield going four after the girl demographic they're looking they're not locked into one party or another. In both parties have a good opportunity I think to reach out the larger and larger shares them as they grow. All right well thank you so much Ryan impaired for joining me today this has been a really interesting an informative conversation. My name is dealing three Tony chow is in the virtual control room Claire gritty dirt courtesies on audio editing you can get in touch right emailing us at pod cast at 530 dot com you can also of course leaving us with any questions or comments. If you're a fan of the show beavis or reading a review in the apple podcast store or tell someone about us. Thanks for listening and policies.
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