ethnic, gender, and political lines. Men are more likely to turn away from religion than women; African-Americans and Latinos are more likely than whites to be affiliated with a church. Forty percent of liberals consider themselves to be unaffiliated, while only nine-percent of conservatives do. Age also seems to be a factor, as one-third of Americans under the age of 30 do not belong to an organized religion.
But while these statistics tell us much about religious demographics, they do not explain why this acceleration has occurred over the past twenty years. There are many reasons, I suppose: shifts in our culture, in our politics, and in the family unit (churchgoing has historically begun in the home). Whatever the case, I certainly understand the sentiment behind it. As I wrote in The Two Agreements, “You’ve … realized that some of the doctrinal pieces (of religion) do not belong to the puzzle for your life. Perhaps the religion of your early childhood included a doctrine that pitted your spiritual self against your fleshly self in an internal battle of good and evil. You were taught that your fleshly body—ever present with desires, thoughts, and shortcomings condemned your soul to eternal torment in hell and made you an enemy of God.”
Whereas in the past people used to ignore these feelings (and probably even feel guilty for feeling them), today they are choosing a different way. I also note in The Two Agreements that about every 500 years the world civilization experiences a major shakeup. Given the statistics above, perhaps that time
is now. Rather than taking the negative view that religion is disintegrating, we should look at it as an opportunity to reach the next level of spiritual awareness. The fact that people are turning away from organized religion does not necessarily mean they are denying the Creator; in fact, quite the opposite. It indicates that they crave the freedom to experience the spiritual connection without rules, regulations and conditions.
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