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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Does This Explain the Culture War's Heat?

Trinity College's 2008 American Religious Identification Survey was released last week, and among its major findings is that America is less religious today than it was 20 years ago. Christianity, specifically, is losing ground. According to the survey, 86 percent of Americans identified as Christians back in 1990. In 2008, the number was down to 76 percent.
But here's what's interesting: Within Christianity, the number of evangelicals is growing—while nationwide, the number of people with no religion is also on the rise (from 8 percent in 1990 to 15 percent last year). In other words, it looks like there's an expanding gulf between two extremes—likely contributing, in some part, to the kind of polarization in public discourse that sociologist James Hunter calls an "eclipse of the middle."
Here's a nifty, interactive graphic that really shows the widening gap (first click on "Catholics" and "Other Christians" and then click on "No Religion.) —Heather Wax