While Christianity has been collapsing across Europe for the past half-century, with recent data indicating that a mere 18% of those who identify as Christian still attend church services regularly, the United States of America has traditionally been considered a far more Christian country. The electoral power wielded by the so-called Religious Right as well as the piety of many of America’s founders, settlers, and pioneers has infused America’s image with a religiosity that has defined the Shining City on a Hill for generations.
But a General Social Survey now indicates that for the first time in American history, atheists are the largest group in the nation at 23.1%, surpassing both evangelicals and Catholics as the largest portion of the population. Nonbelievers have increased a staggering 266% over the past thirty years, while mainline Protestant churches, which have largely embraced the Sexual Revolution and abandoned Christian orthodoxy entirely, have collapsed from 62.5% in 1982 to just 10.8% of the American population today.
We are already beginning to see the results of this collapse. In his recent book Them: Why We Hate Each Other—And How to Heal, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse details why experts believe there are four primary drivers of human happiness, which can each be phrased as questions: Do you have a family you love and who love you? Do you have friends you trust and confide in? Do you have work that matters? Do you have a worldview that can make sense of suffering and death?
Religious communities not only provide communities that supply answers to these questions, but religious people are far more likely to behave in ways that lead to long-term happiness. One example is getting married, which religious people are more likely to do. They are also more likely to stay married, and countless studies have proven that those who get married and stay married are far happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who do not. Needless to say, the resulting family stability is also of inestimable value from both a social and a personal perspective.