ATHEISM: “The Utility of Religion” / Atheist Experience / Tracie Harris and Clare Wuellner ☮

Tracie Harris & Clare Wuellner

INDEPENDENT GLOBAL JOURNALISM: “Who are the Real Terrorists in the Mideast?” / truthdig / Danny Sjursen ☮

Back when I still wore the uniform of a U.S. Army officer, and well before many of my former brothers in arms labeled me a traitor, I taught freshman (“plebe”) history at West Point. I loved asking my cadets provocative questions, the sort of queries they never heard in high school Advanced Placement U.S. history courses. Consider just one. At the end of the class on World War II, I always asked: “What is the moral difference between flying three planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon—killing 3,000 civilians—and using hundreds of U.S. planes to firebomb Tokyo on March 9, 1945—killing some 90,000 civilians?” Suffice it to say that most cadets didn’t like this question at all.

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ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS: “Gallup: Church Membership Has Dropped Sharply Over the Past Two Decades” ☮

Even Americans who identify with a specific religion aren’t necessarily choosing to join a church, synagogue or mosque.

Americans are increasingly unlikely to become formal members of churches and other religious congregations, a new Gallup report has found.

The number of U.S. adults who officially belong to a church or other religious institution has plummeted from 70% in 1999 to 50% in 2018, according to the study published on Thursday.

The decline in church membership dovetails with a concurrent decline in weekly church attendance. There has also been a well-documented rise in religious “nones” ― people who describe themselves as atheistic, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” The percentage of American adults who say they have no religious preference doubled from 8% in 2000 to about 19% in 2018, according to Gallup.

Even among Americans who say they are part of an organized faith tradition, however, Gallup found that church membership has declined. At the turn of the century, 90% of all U.S. adults were affiliated with a religious group and 73% of those religious people belonged to a church or other faith institution. Currently, about 77 percent of all American adults identify with a religion and only 64 percent of those adults are members of a church or other faith institution. That means roughly 1 out of 4 adults today call themselves religious without being members of a church, synagogue or mosque.

The data suggests to Gallup that Americans’ relationship with organized religion is changing.

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