As you celebrate the holiday (or don’t), Gallup has revealed that fewer Americans than ever before think religion can actually provide answers to the problems we face. Only 46% of Americans believe wishful thinking is our best bet against our very real struggles.
Jon Stewart once joked, “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.” But even that’s no longer the case for a majority of people.
As Americans’ views of the importance of religion in their lives and its influence on American life have edged downward, so too has their belief that it can answer today’s problems. For the first time in more than six decades, less than half of Americans, 46%, say “religion can answer all or most of today’s problems.” The public is now more closely divided than ever before in its views of religion as the answer to what ails society.
The same poll finds a near-record low 51% of Americans say religion is “very important” in their lives. (The lowest ever was 49% in May of 2015.)
None of this is all that surprising when you realize that white evangelical leaders have supported everything Donald Trump is doing to ruin the country, Catholic leaders continue to act shocked about sexual crimes and cover-ups within their own ranks, and groups like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have been exposed for their own ignorance of abuse. Religion seems to cause more problems than it solves. And the worst politicians in the country seem to be the ones who cite their religion the most.
Still, as Gallup notes, religion remains important (if not “very” important) to 72% of people. We still have work to do to bring that number down, but atheists should recognize that religious people themselves are now doing a lot of the legwork in making their beliefs unpopular.