From The Washington Post, columnist Perry Bacon, Jr. reflects on his journey away from organized religion:
I’m currently a “none” or, more precisely, a “nothing in particular.” But I want to be a something.
“None” is the term social scientists use to describe Americans who say they don’t belong to or practice a particular religious faith. This bloc has grown from about 5 percent of Americans in the early 1990s to nearly 30 percent today. Most nones aren’t atheists but what researchers call “nothing in particulars,” people who aren’t quite sure what they believe.
In their new book, “The Great Dechurching,” Jim Davis, Michael Graham and Ryan Burge estimate that about 40 million Americans used to attend church but don’t now.
I could not have imagined when I was a kid or even a decade ago that I would be in this group.
After describing his upbringing as the son of a Charismatic pastor, Bacon writes about a shift he discerned after the election of Donald Trump:
I didn’t leave church for any one reason. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, I was reading more leftist Black intellectuals. Many of them either weren’t religious or were outright skeptical of faith. They didn’t view Black churches as essential to advancing Black causes today, even though King and many other major figures in the 1960s civil rights movement had been very devout. I started to notice there were plenty of people — Black and non-Black — who were deeply committed to equality and justice but were not religious.
At the same time, my Republican friends, many of whom had been very critical of Trump during his campaign, gradually became more accepting and even enthusiastic about him. While my policy views had always been to the left of these friends’, our shared Christianity had convinced me that we largely agreed on broader questions of morality and values. Their embrace of a man so obviously misaligned with the teachings of Jesus was unsettling. I began to realize that being a Democrat or a Republican, not being a Christian, was what drove the beliefs and attitudes of many Christians, perhaps including me.
And I couldn’t ignore how the word “Christian” was becoming a synonym for rabidly pro-Trump White people who argued that his and their meanness and intolerance were somehow justified and in some ways required to defend our faith.