Scott Hudson * / (CC BY 2.0)

“The majority of Americans identify technically as Christians,” writes Amanda Marcotte at AlterNet, “but a deeper look at how our people act, believe, and think shows that we’re not at all a ‘Christian nation,’ but a largely secular nation that suffers a small but vocal minority of theocracy-minded conservatives.”

And “the secular-minded majority is getting even bigger and more secular all the time,” she continues:

None of this is a surprise. Just because people say they’re a member of a church doesn’t mean they fit the image of pious sheep following lockstep with the instructions of conservative religious leaders. The sexual behavior of religious people isn’t measurably different than the sexual behavior of the non-religious. Catholics and Protestants get abortions and use contraception at the same rate as non-believing women. When it comes to sex, we’re a secular country with just a few religious trappings for ornament. …

It’s not just about these moral questions, either. One of the ways that the religious right claims that we’re a deeply religious country unlike our secular counterparts in Western Europe is by pointing to our supposedly much higher church attendance rates. While the French and English spend their Sundays snoozing in bed, Americans supposedly get up and get to praying. And it’s true that if you ask Americans how often they go to church, they report putting their butts in pews on a regular, often weekly basis.

Those Americans, however, are not telling the truth. Research shows that pews are about half as full as they would be if Americans were telling the truth about church attendance. When researchers actually record Americans’ day-to-day activities, they find that they don’t go to church much at all. In fact, we don’t go anymore than our Western European counterparts. The religious right likes to claim we are a “Christian nation”, but we are a bunch of secularists who only show up for weddings and holidays, just like the Europeans. We just lie about it, possibly because we buy into this myth that we are a religious country, which makes some people feel pressure to front like they have more faith than they actually do.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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