SALT LAKE CITY — According to a new report on politics and religion, highly vocal religious people who espouse political views that others in the faith do not share are pushing them out, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
In “Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics,” political scientists David E. Campbell and Geoffrey C. Layman of the University of Notre Dame and John C. Green of the University of Akron contend that the growth in the U.S. secular population is because politics has pervaded faith, making it untenable for those who do not share these beliefs.
This trend is not new. Increasing numbers of people check "none" or "nothing in particular" when asked about their religious affiliation in surveys.
“This is a stunning change in the American social landscape,” said Campbell, said in a Zoom interview with Jana Riess of the Religion News Service. “To put it in context, prior to 1990, virtually no Americans identified in public opinion surveys as nonreligious . . . by the time we get to the year 2000, at that point you’re talking about 14% to 15% of the population."
Various studies have argued that backlash against the religious right is one reason for increasing numbers of people leaving their religion, as most are politically liberal.
One such study, conducted by Campbell, asked people's religious beliefs before and after reading a fictionalized article about clergy members combining religious and political messages.
People identifying as Republicans reported no change in their religious beliefs.
Democrats, however, dropped their religious affiliation by 13 percent after hearing the same messages.
Campbell said, "Imagine what happens when people are exposed to hundreds of stories over many, many years. It would only reinforce that idea that religion and the Republican Party go together, and that if you’re not sympathetic to the Republican Party, you don’t want anything to do with religion.”
“I would say to churches, on both the left and the right, that if you want to bring people back to the pews, you want to stay out of politics . . .While most of the allergic reaction is against the right, there is a general sentiment among people that they really don’t like the mixture of the two.”