US propaganda is actively promoting a positive image of Americans to the world, i.e. of people of faith with staunch religious principles. The US Department of State even has the position of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. In the opinion of promoters of such propaganda campaigns, shifting the focus to Americans’ tolerant attitude towards religion can offset a global image, which is becoming more and more deeply rooted, of Americans as aggressors. After all, they have been actively using religion as a tool to stoke conflict in the Middle East between Sunnis and Shias, and to ignite disputes among Orthodox Christians in the post-Soviet space. This has resulted in thousands of deaths among civilians in armed conflicts all over the world.
This is why media outlets and the US film industry are actively seeking to create an image of a typical American civilian who supposedly goes to church every Sunday, prays before mealtimes and always has a Bible with them. Of course, such a premise allows for the existence of atheists in the United States but they account for a tiny proportion of the entire population of this nation. And in fact, most Americans view atheism as something strange.
But is this the actual state of affairs in the United States?
Customarily, the older generation of Americans were more religious than the younger one, and women attended church more frequently than men. Earlier, Southern states and Utah were among the most religious states in the USA, while states in the Northeast of the country (referred to as New England) and on the West coast (i.e. California, Oregon and Washington) were viewed as less religious. In the United States, race has always played an influential role on how religious a person is, African Americans go to church more often than White Americans, while the latter do so more often than Asian Americans. Church attendance by an American also depends on his or her religious denomination. Mormons and Christians who are members of traditional congregations, for example, of Orthodox and Coptic churches (with the exception of Catholics) tend to be more frequent church goers.
However, in recent years, interest in religion has waned and church attendance has decreased substantially in the United States. Thus the country appears to be transforming into a post-Christian nation that has abandoned their belief in God.
In the opinion of a number of analysts, this decline in religious beliefs and practices in the United States has been compounded by issues plaguing churches these days, such as the rejection of traditional orthodox teachings on the difference between the two sexes, and high-profile scandals involving sexual harassment of children by Catholic clergy. Moreover, we must not forget that if earlier churches functioned as community centers where people could talk to each other and discuss topical societal issues, nowadays, everyone, from the very young to the elderly, are immersed in the internet and social networks that offer limitless opportunities to communicate.
The Times, a British newspaper that can hardly be accused of spreading anti-American propaganda, reported that in recent years the number of Americans who said they had no formal religion had increased. Since 2014 the size of the non-religious population in the United States grew from 8% to 21%, with no signs that this change would decrease in pace. The latest study, conducted by political scientist Ryan Burge, showed that this group accounted for 23.1% of the entire US population, a higher proportion than that comprising evangelicals. The latter had the highest number of members in the 1990s when evangelicals accounted for 30% of the US population, currently, their proportion decreased to 22.5%. His research highlighted that, at present, the number of non-religious individuals is equivalent to that of Catholics in the USA. This religious group is actually twice the size of those comprised of members of more traditional American Protestant denominations in the USA, such as Anglicanism, Quakerism and the United Methodist Church. And the younger generation were not the only ones who said they were non-religious. Nowadays it is 4 times more common for people under the age of 40 to express such views than it was in 1972. “However, the jump in those over 40 is six times as likely,” wrote Ryan Burge.
According to The Times, this trend to express non-religious views coincided with “a rightward shift, politically, in US churches.” It seems that many Americans distanced themselves from Christianity, when some churches, especially evangelical ones, expressed their support for Donald Trump openly.
The Times also reported that the US President may well exemplify an individual without any formal religious beliefs.
“He has been given broad support from evangelical Christians but showed little sign of personal faith before he began his campaign for the White House. Trump has no knowledge of how to handle himself in a church in America because he has never been there before,” opined Dr Burge.
American media outlets have also openly written about Americans’ waning interest towards religion.
US magazine The American Conservative has reported that the United States has become a post-Christian nation that has abandoned their belief in God, and forgotten the meaning of mercy, penitence and forgiveness.
National Review has also discussed topics such as the loss of traditional Christian values in the United States and the ease with which people accuse those with traditional views of fanaticism. The magazine has reported that most conservatives, Christian conservatives in particular, feel that they cannot talk about their religious views or practice their beliefs as freely as five, ten or even twenty years ago.
Another story published by American Conservative has expressed a strong unease about the fact that there is a movement supporting homosexuality within orthodox American religious groups. This article also warns its readers that churches that have rejected orthodox Christian teachings about the difference between the sexes are descending into a moral cesspit of theological chaos.
Nowadays, Americans no longer identify themselves with religion first and foremost, but earlier, people did associate human decency with religious beliefs. As a result, numerous people no longer follow key religious teachings and postulates. Instead of Christian commandments such as “Love God and thy neighbor as thyself”, money dominates the world where the strongest survive. In the interests of oligarchy and its military industrial complex, many armed conflicts have been initiated all over the world, and, in the meantime, commandments such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” are all but forgotten.
It is thus not surprising that the issue of the post-Christian civilization is becoming a global one in the United States. According to The Washington post, in the meantime, a fairly new (if we may use this word) organization, The Satanic Temple founded in 2013, already has branches all over the United States and is prepared to open clubs for Satan worshippers in primarily schools in every corner of the nation.
Vladimir Odintsov, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine ‘New Eastern Outlook’.