Today, contemporary voluntary religion entails a “common-sense” epistemology that in some ways is strangely unaware of its own limits. Today’s widespread deference to a liberal voluntarism is so radically “open,” for example, that it can lead to intransigence, and to an inability to imagine that “others” see things differently from the way you do. A parallel development over at least the past three decades is the power of explicitly and unabashedly faith-centered political factions to bring their views to bear in the public square, to exclaim against imminent moral decay in American life, and to rail against rising unbelief.Read the rest of Shifting drivers of change.
Christopher McKnight Nichols
Christopher McKnight Nichols is the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in U.S. History at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in American intellectual, cultural, and political history from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century, with a focus on the Progressive Era and debates over the U.S. role in the world. Nichols is co-editor and co-author, with Charles Mathewes, of Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America's Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day (Oxford University Press, 2008) and is the author of Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age (Harvard University Press, forthcoming). Nichols is a Contributor and Project Associate for the multi-university interdisciplinary project Secularism in the Late Modern Age: Between New Atheisms and Religious Fundamentalisms at the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.
Posts by Christopher McKnight Nichols:
More and more Americans say they have no formal religious affiliation. National surveys, scholarly findings, and media coverage make that clear. Those identifying with “no religion”—often termed “nones,” “no religionists,” or the “unchurched”—jumped from 8.2 percent of the public in 1990 to just over 15 percent in 2008.
This trend causes some observers to cry out in alarm and others to rejoice. But the transition is far more complicated than a mere movement from faith to non-belief implies.Read the rest of Who has ‘religion’?.