Ahead of the Trend: Is religion in America in decline?

Add another important voice to the debate over the health of religion in the United States, a nation that is a symbol of the staying power of faith in the West. In a paper for the Association of Religion Data Archives, Duke sociologist Mark Chaves finds “it is reasonable to conclude that American religion has in fact declined in recent decades – slowly, but unmistakably.” Others say the religious beliefs and practices of Americans have been remarkably stable. The latest Ahead of the Trend explores the conversation.

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Earlier columns related to this topic include:

Not everyone wins, but all faiths grow in competitive marketplace
The more competition, the better for American religion. Major immigration from Asia, the growth into the thousands of religious movements within and outside the church and an active and influential secular community have not stopped the growth of the nation’s largest faith – Christianity. Instead, the expanding religion marketplace is proving to be a win-win situation for all faiths, according to J. Gordon Melton, founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, Calif. Read this column.

Studies find God is alive and well among America’s youth
There has been a compelling storyline throughout American religious history of the serious temptations endangering the next generation of faithful. Moonlit buggy rides, dance halls, live theater, radio, movies, television, the Internet and social media such as Facebook all have taken their turn as the latest threats to young hearts and minds. But several recent surveys available on ARDA reveal few major changes in the core religious beliefs of young people. Read this column.

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