Religion Is Dying? Don’t Believe It


In an article published today in the Wall Street Journal, RFI Senior Fellow Byron Johnson, who also directs the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, and Jeff Levin, professor of epidemiology and population health at Baylor University, challenge the prevailing narrative that religion is declining in the United States. They write:

Reports of religion’s decline in America have been exaggerated. You’ve heard the story: Churchgoers are dwindling in number while “Nones”—those who tell pollsters they have no religious affiliation—are multiplying as people abandon their faith and join the ranks of atheists and agnostics. Headlines declare that the U.S. is secularizing along the lines of Europe. From Britain’s Daily Mail in 2013: “Religion could disappear by 2041 because people will have replaced God with possessions, claims leading psychologist.”

These conclusions are based on analyses that are so flawed as to be close to worthless. In a new study with our colleagues Matt Bradshaw and Rodney Stark, we seek to set the record straight.

Data from five recent U.S. population surveys point to the vibrancy, ubiquity and growth of religion in the U.S. Americans are becoming more religious, and religious institutions are thriving. Consistent with some previous studies but contrary to widely held assumptions, many people who report no religious affiliation—and even many self-identified atheists and agnostics—exhibit substantial levels of religious practice and belief.

Read the full article: “Religion Is Dying? Don’t Believe It.”