Chart of the Day: We Are Becoming a Nation of Heathens

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There’s nothing new here, but the chart below happened to show up in a new Pew report on the rise of Americans with no religious affiliation, so I thought I’d pass it along. As you can see, religious affiliation held fairly steady until 1991, but in the twenty years since then the number of people reporting no religion has more than doubled. This has come almost entirely out of the ranks of Protestants.

We all have our own guesses about why this might be, and obviously this has been a common phenomenon throughout the advanced economies of the world. In the American context, I blame the rise of Jerry Falwell and the politicization of religion for the drop in the number of people who want to call themselves Protestants. It’s just become a toxic label for a lot of people who aren’t rabid social conservatives, especially among the young. The Pew report has more on this, and Ed Kilgore has some comments too.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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