Susan Jacoby, the author of The Age of American Unreason and a writer for the Washington Post, is celebrating the top developments in American secularism in 2009. They are as follows:
#1: In April, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that those with no religious affiliation—the unchurched–were the fastest-growing group in the American religious landscape. More than 16 percent said they belonged to no church and identified with no religious group. Jacoby responded to this development by saying, “I consider this an extremely positive development, because those who identify with no religion—whatever their beliefs or non-beliefs about the existence of a supreme being—are least likely to support religious intrusion on government and are least vulnerable to appeals from right-wing religion.”
#2: In his inaugural address, President Obama mentioned nonbelievers as a group of Americans worthy of respect. This is the first time a president, in a major address, has gone beyond the usual litany of respect for Americans of various religious faith and included Americans who reject religion.
#3: One of the first actions of the Obama administration was to overturn the Bush administration’s policies banning research on new embryonic stem cell lines.
#4: Predictions that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 would bring about a “return to religion” proved unfounded. Church attendance spiked briefly in the first month after 9/11, after which the drop-off in churchgoing, and the rise of the unaffiliated, has continued until today.
If you’re a Christian, then these developments ought to concern you. But more than that, these developments ought to motivate you to live out your faith in 2010 with renewed vigor. There is great spiritual need right where you live. May God grant you the faith and strength to live missionally in the coming year.
Happy New Year!