Political scientist Tobin Grant notes that religiosity in the United States is in the midst of "The Great Decline," a decline significantly exceeding previous declines in religious practice. Using information from scientific surveys on attendance at worship service, church membership, prayer, and feelings about religion, he and his colleagues have generated a computer algorithm to track over 400 survey results over the past 60 years.
Here's a summary of what Professor Grant and his co-researchers have found:
During the post-war, baby-booming 1950s, there was a revival of religion. Indeed, some at the time considered it a third great awakening. Then came the societal changes of the 1960s, which included a questioning of religious institutions. The resulting decline in religion stopped by the end of the 1970s, when religiosity remained steady. Over the past fifteen years, however, religion has once again declined. But this decline is much sharper than the decline of 1960s and 1970s. Church attendance and prayer is less frequent. The number of people with no religion is growing. Fewer people say that religion is an important part of their lives. All measures point to the same drop in religion: If the 1950s were another Great Awakening, this is the Great Decline.
And, of course, with the Barna Group and scholars like Robert Putnam and David Campbell (with their book American Grace reporting that younger Americans are walking away from churches in droves, primarily due to the homophobia of many churches, the future for organized religion (as opposed to spirituality) does not look bright in the U.S. Until the churches begin to engage their homophobia, that is to say . . . .