Americans have become far more tolerant of atheists and non-believers than ever before. Most Americans now believe that there is no link between faith in God and morality.
Around 56% of Americans said belief in God is not necessary for moral behavior, Pew reported. That number was up sharply from 2011 when more than half (51%) of the Americans Pew surveyed said faith god was necessary for morality.
This means religious beliefs have changed dramatically among 7% of the population in just six years. It looks as if American Christianity is collapsing faster than most of us realize.
This represents a paradigm shift in America’s religious and philosophical beliefs. Pew’s data also points to deep philosophical differences among Americans of different races and faiths that are sure to heat up the culture wars.
Driving such divisions will be the weakening of faith and changing attitudes among American believers. Particularly destructive will be shifting in beliefs along racial and ethnic lines.
Americans more Divided Along Religious Lines than Ever
Pew’s data shows us that beliefs about God and morality in Post-Christian America diverge along ethnic, class, and racial lines. For example:
- Only 26% of black Protestants thought “belief in God is not needed to be moral.”
- Yet 41% of all Protestants (including presumably 41% of whites) felt faith in God was not necessary for morality.
- Just 32% of “white evangelicals” felt people that did not believe in God could be moral.
- In contrast, 63% of members of “white mainline Protestants” said belief in God is not necessary for morality.
- A majority; 57%, of white Catholics accepted the notion that morality and belief in God can be separate.
- Less than half, only 38% of Hispanic Catholics felt the same way.
- The nonreligious are losing faith in God even faster. Back in 2011 around 78% of them said belief in God was needed for morality. By 2017, the vast majority of them; 85%, were willing to admit that God is not necessary for morality.
One thing is clear; faith in God is waning fast in modern America, even among churchgoers. Back 2011, 42% of the “religiously affiliated” said it was not necessary to believe in God to be moral, by 2017 that number rose to 45%. Four out of ten American churchgoers no longer link God with morality.
Beliefs seem to be changing or evolving faster among evangelicals, white Catholics, and African Americans. In 2011, only two out of 10, or 19%, of Black Protestants thought a person can be moral without faith in God, by 2017 that number rose to 26%, – an increase of 7%. As recently as 2011; only 26% of white evangelicals were willing to admit a godless person can be moral, by 2017 that number rose to 32% or nearly one third.
Americans are More Tolerant of Nonbelief
An explanation for this might be the growing number of nonbelievers and secular people in America. Personal experience; particularly with friends or family members that do not believe, might have changed some minds. Growing disillusionment with the church and its’ leaders may also play a role.
This might explain why evangelicals are more likely to support Donald J. Trump, who seems to have no religion. It also means that values issues may no longer have any power or influence in politics.
It looks as if Americans are more tolerant and of atheism and agnosticism. The idea that America is a post-Christian or post-Protestant democracy is more valid than many of us would like to admit.
We’re entering a new era of American history when beliefs and values will be vastly different from the past. America’s culture wars might be over and the Christians lost.