One nation unaffiliated: Religious indifference is better for society

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Ilustration by Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea / Visual Editor


Just try to imagine a country where someone’s religion does not get in everyone’s way. A place where church and state, religion and politics all stayed far, far away from each other.

This is not just an agnostic’s wet dream anymore, it is becoming a reality.

In light of last week’s election results, it is clear that the power of religion over politics in this country is starting to fall by the wayside. And as a young, non-religious person, I am thrilled.

A recent study released last month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that about onefifth of Americans, or around 19.6 percent of the population, consider themselves “religiously unaffiliated,” and 6 percent of this statistic includes atheists and agnostics. About one-third of these 46 million people are under the age of 30.

The study also showed that while these people do not affiliate with a particular religion, 68 percent of them still believe in a god and 37 percent consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.” One in five of those surveyed also said they pray every day.

This data presents an interesting possibility: a strong, non-religiously affiliated youth vote. And this change in demographics will have a big, positive impact on what issues will take center stage in politics, be presented on future ballots and be important to our society in general. And this past election was simply the start.

Maine, whose voters rejected a gay marriage initiative just three years ago, Maryland and Washington all legalized gay marriage. This is a huge accomplishment for civil rights and the LGBT community as a whole. After years of a very traditional, outspoken religious right opposing same-sex marriage, it appears that the American public has changed its mind, and its vote.

This is just the first step in the right direction. There are so many possibilities with a more secular society: more accessible birth control, safe and legal abortions, marriage equality and opportunities to close the gender and class gaps.

This shift in demographics isn’t the only catalyst for social change in this country. All of this social achievement is aided by the fact that people who are religious are taking their beliefs out of their politics. The greatest example of this is Vice President Joe Biden, who, while on the campaign trail, talked about how he believes in the right for women to have abortions, even though he doesn’t personally support them according to his faith.

America is finally starting to follow the important principle of the separation of church and state, and it’s about time. The attitude of “I don’t like this, so no one else can have it!” which has permeated our politics, is reminiscent of a cranky preschooler throwing a tantrum. But with this sudden surge in secular politics, the immature child is finally taking a timeout.

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  • David the small-L libertarian

    So it’s okay to impose secular values on Americans but not okay to impose religious values?  Like it or not, this country was founded on Christian values and Americans have reaped the benefits.

    • Cleveland Steamers

      Wait, didn’t the “Puritans” leave Europe because of religious persecution, only to persecute people in American with their religion?

      • David the small-L libertarian

        This is the point I was attempting to make with my comment:  Dennis Prager: America Founded To Be Free, Not Secular

        • Cleveland Steamers

          I hate the Happy Holiday B.S. I hear when I go to a mall. Just say Merry Christmas. But I also am alienated by the right wingers who continue to preach “Christian Values” and use abortion and gay rights in politics.

          • David the small-L libertarian

            I hate the Happy Holiday B.S. I hear when I go to a mall. Just say Merry Christmas.

            I agree with you, and I consider myself agnostic leaning toward atheist.

            But I also am alienated by the right wingers who continue to preach “Christian Values” and use abortion and gay rights in politics.

            Would you feel less “alienated” if people held these opinions but they were not derived from religious beliefs?

          • Cleveland Steamers

             Would you feel less “alienated” if people held these opinions but they were not derived from religious beliefs?

            I know where you are going with this. Nice try.

          • David the small-L libertarian

            It seemed like a logical question to ask; I’m not trying to trick you.

            Based on your response, my guess is that you believe that religious-based values are somehow more objectionable or less legitimate than secular values.  That seems to be the position of many of those on the left.

  • Eileen Shaughnessy

    ….and the church out of our government, which clearly has never happened.  Well written, Tay.  You are becoming quite accomplished in your writings – makes me glad to see the growth.  Keep it coming!

    • Jon Soto

      Eileen, you forget that religion has played a central role in shaping the laws of the land for nearly 200 years. The first amendment was NEVER intended to remove religion from any public discourse, even politics. You forget that the U.S. was never intended to secular a-religious, but a constitutional republic founded on Judeo-Christian principles and the idea of personal liberty. The first amendment  was meant to prevent the government from censoring what you said, telling you how to worship or not worship, who or what to worship, cracking down on peaceful protest, and giving you the right to petition the government. There was never an intent to silence religious beliefs in the political sphere.

  • Jon Soto

    Dude, you are so misinformed about the first amendment when it comes to church and state. The first amendment ONLY forbids an official religion of the U.S. It is ment to keep the government out of your church. It was never intended to remove religion as part of the public discourse.