Everyone knows that religion’s hold on the American society is weakening. Christianity, still the religion of 78.4 percent Americans, is being practiced by 10 percent fewer Americans today than it was nine years ago. In the same period, the number of nones, people unaffiliated with any religion, has increased from 16.1 percent in 2007 to 22.8 percent in 2014. If the trend continues, we will have more atheists in the US than Christians in less than a generation. Is America becoming atheist? No.
A closer look at the Pew Survey, which came up with these numbers, reveals an interesting story. Although 22.8 percent Americans identify themselves as nones, only 1.2 percent consider themselves atheists. That leaves us with a population of more than 60 million that is neither affiliated with any religion nor atheist. What are all these people up to? I confess I don’t have an answer backed by solid number. But I do have some observations to share which are based on my own transformation from a typical choir boy into a free-thinking spiritual seeker.
I was born into a Christian family. I was typical choir boy who attended church on Sundays and was content with his life. It was much later in life that I realized there were other religious traditions, Which author Kahlil Gibran called “others paths to truth”. Being brought up in the Christian, it was difficult for me to accept this simple truth in the beginning because it seemed to contradict everything I knew. But the more I explored, the more I came to realize the extent of my error.
Now I am can report that I explore other spiritual traditions – Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism among others. And that hasn’t caused me to leave my Christian community. I still consider myself a follower of the Christ; I attend church on Sundays, and I promote religious diversity in the corporate world. I can do this because now I know the essential principles of all the world’s major religious traditions are identical and I have a supportive community around me. My hunch is that the “nones” are spiritual seekers who haven’t discovered the essential truth and who lack a supportive community. Many have left organized religion but don’t identify as atheist. Here are two suggestions if you are one of them.
If you have discovered that Christianity isn’t the only way to find God, it’s easy to be demoralized. Your lack of enthusiasm is reflected in the Pew surveys. The good news is that this stage of uncertainty and inaction can be overcome.
The next logical step is to educate yourself about the essential truths of other religions and use the new knowledge to re-discover the “faith of your fathers”. It may help clear the clouds. There are two ways to begin.
You can find a teacher; one who will not judge you for having doubts and questions.
I’ve written a book, Epiphany: Finding Truth Without Losing Faith, documenting my faith journey. You can read it to avoid some of the mistakes I made on my journey and accelerate your journey to truth.
To sum up, America is becoming less religious, but not more atheist. There are still people longing for spirituality. They can share their concerns with their religious leaders for answers. And if they are interested in my journey, they can read Epiphany: Finding Truth Without Losing Faith.