In God we trust… How much longer will the American Congress be able to leave this national motto adopted in 1956 on its bills? One cannot help wondering after the publication of a wide-reaching survey showing that 2019 may be the year that sees the “religiously unaffiliated” become the largest religious group of all.
According to the results of this study by the Pew Research Center on the year 2016, “atheist, agnostic or religiously unaffiliated” Americans represent almost a quarter of the total population of the United States: 22%, compared to 15% in 1998 and 8% in 1990.
The numbers of the “religiously unaffiliated” are even higher than those of the traditional Protestant groups (10% of the population) and the Catholics (23% of the population), and in 2019 they may outnumber the Evangelicals (25% of Americans), a confession that has been on the decline for the past 20 years.
The generation effect has an important impact on this wave of secularization. Denis Lacorne, research director for the Centre de recherches internationales (CERI) at Sciences Po in Paris, summed it up for the magazine Le Point on January 19, 2019, with the following phrase: “The younger you are, the less religion you have.” According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 40% of the 18 to 29 age group are religiously unaffiliated, which is four times more than in the 1980’s.
The survey also shows that, at least at first, the immigrant population is more strongly influenced by their original religion, but that their Faith wears away with the second or third generation; if this phenomenon proves true with the “convergence between the United States and Europe” mentioned by Denis Lacorne, the Submission described by the bestselling author Michel Houellebecq very well may become a reality.