Divergent Cultural Trends

Religious observance/affiliation is changing in the U.S. Those of us who fall under the label “none” are gaining ground.

But in the background, a growing number of Democrats — and Republicans — have decided not to associate with a specific church or traditional faith. As of 2017, religiously unaffiliated voters made up a third of all Democrats and 13 percent of all Republicans. Last year, religious “nones” became as numerous as evangelical Christians in the broader population. Catholics, evangelicals and those with no religion each made up 23 percent of the overall U.S. adult population, according to the General Social Survey.”


At the same time, the people who are affiliated, especially the religious right, are more zealous. Because they tend to track more closely with red state Republican majorities, they exercise — in my view — outsized influence in the wrong direction on the courts and in our political discourse.

It’s a bit like the NRA. Fewer people claim to be hunters or rural farmers who need shotguns to kill for food or to protect their livestock, but those who do own guns own a lot of them and are zealous in protecting their unfettered rights. In 2008, in the Heller decision, armed Americans got Justice Scalia and his conservative brethren to come down on their side, and now there are almost no restraints on gun ownership in our culture at all.

Just as the country is moving increasingly toward “none” for religious practice, the most unrelenting believers among us are turning the court system at all levels and Republican policy making in the opposite direction.

I don’t know what happens when the law of the land bears little resemblance with how the majority wants to live our lives. We “nones” are not the majority yet, but the trend is going our way. The laws of our country are not, as we can see from these cruel and overbearing anti-choice bills being passed in midwestern and southern states.

Something will have to give.

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