This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Welton Gaddy dedicates the entire show to the changing religious landscape of America. We’ll hear from three guests on the issue, each with their own unique insight – you won’t want to miss any of it! First, Welton will check in with Greg Smith of the Pew Research Center about their new study showing a steep decline in religious identity in America. Then it’s Baylor University’s Byron Johnson on why it’s too soon to write religion’s funeral song. Finally, Welton will discuss some of the reasons behind America’s changing religious demographics with U.C. Berkeley Sociologist Claude Fischer.
Survey Says… Christianity in Decline, Unaffiliated on the Rise
Last week the Pew Research Center released its report, America’s Changing Religious Landscape: Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow. Seven years since the last time Pew conducted this comprehensive this survey, the research team has found some fascinating trends. We’ll be joined by the lead researcher on the project, Dr. Gregory A. Smith, who’ll walk us through the numbers, which parallel other reputable studies consistently identifying an increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated. CLICK HERE FOR EXTENDED INTERVIEW AND TRANSCRIPT
The End of Religion? Not So Fast…
While many have greeted the Pew survey with dismay at what looks like an apocalypse for religion in America, others – like Baylor University’s Dr. Byron Johnson – say hold your horsemen. Baylor recently held a symposium that did not shy away from casting aspersions on the methods – and even motives – of more mainstream public surveys. Are we looking at a legitimate alternative interpretation of the data? Or a defensive attempt to muddy the waters with charges of a “liberal media” conspiracy against religion?
A Little More Nuance and a Lot Less Politics
We’ll round out the show with a scholar who has long studied trends in religious affiliation in America – and focuses on the reasons behind those trends. Dr. Claude S. Fischer is a sociologist at the University of California – Berkeley who’s been studying the forces behind religious change in America for over a decade. Even as some on the right insist its moral permissiveness that has damaged attendance in mainline churches, Dr. Fischer says it’s the politicization of religion around culture war issues that has moved many to disaffiliate in frustration. CLICK HERE FOR EXTENDED INTERVIEW, TRANSCRIPT, AND LINKS