Religious identification is on the wane in the United States, as in most other nations in the developed world. Yet, many scholars and pundits are somewhat dismissive of trends in disaffiliation as evidence of growing secularism because, they claim, Americans increasingly believe but don’t belong. However, Americans’ beliefs are changing as well. And, many who do not believe are nonetheless forced to belong because of social influences on religious commitments. Indeed, as I will show, there are far more people who belong to religious groups but do not believe than there are people who believe but don’t belong. And, furthermore, a growing proportion of Americans neither believe in the authority of religious creeds nor belong to organizations devoted to religion.Read the rest of Beyond believing but not belonging.
Darren Sherkat is Professor of Sociology at Southern Illinois University. He has published 47 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Social Forces, American Sociological Review, and Social Science Research. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Social Science Research and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. His work focuses largely on the intersections of family, religion, and politics.