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Thread: Lack of religious affiliation set to become mainstream in Western countries

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    Post Lack of religious affiliation set to become mainstream in Western countries



    Atheism and agnosticism have been gaining a lot of grounds in Western countries over the last decade thanks to the Internet.

    USA

    According to this chart (source), the percentage of unaffiliated in the USA started soaring from 1995, which is the year the Internet really took off. Most of the 'conversions' took place among the richer and more educated mainstream Protestants, while hardly any change can be seen among Evangelical Protestants, Black Protestants and Catholics.



    This chart only goes until 2012. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of unaffiliated (no religion) Americans increased from 16.1% in 2007 to 22.8% (+6.7%) in 2014. That's nearly 1% per annum. The Most of the loss of faith came from mainstream Protestants (-3.4%) and Catholics (-3.1%).



    At this rhythm mainstream Protestants will make up less than 1% of the US population sometime between 2032 and 2044.

    Unaffiliated are set to become the largest group in the US this year (25% of the population), overtaking Evangelical Protestants and Catholics. Nevertheless, this upward trend will surely slow down once most of the educated people have given up religion as poorer and less educated classes appear to be largely unaffected by this wave of atheism. In fact, there hasn't been any equivalent soar in atheism or agnosticism in Latin America (except in wealthier Chile and Uruguay) and Africa (except in richer South Africa and Botswana), probably because fewer people own computers or are connected to the Internet, but also because less educated people tend to read less for self-development purpose, and even when they do their priorities are economic rather than 'cultural'.

    The percentage of non-religious people varies a lot between states, but clear regional differences can be seen, with New England the the Northwest being the least religious. As of 2014, the least religious states were Vermont (37%), New Hampshire (36%), Washington (32%), Massachusetts (32%), Main (31%), Oregon (31%), Alaska (31%) and Montana (30%).



    Canada

    The National Household Survey of Canada in 2011 found that 24% of the population didn't believe in any religion, a few percents more than in the USA, although there are big regional differences. The most Atheist state is British Columbia (44% of unaffiliated), which contrasts sharply with Newfoundland and Labrador (6%). French-speaking Quebec has the second lowest percentage of non-religious people (12%).


    United Kingdom

    In the United Kingdom, the trend has been even more pronounced than in the USA. According to a detailed survey by NatCen, Britain’s largest independent social research agency, the number of Brits who reported not belonging to any religion steadily increased from 31% in 1983 to 40% in 1995 and 50% in 2009 (and stable around 50% since then). The loss of religiosity has come mostly from Anglican Protestants, who have dropped from 40% in 1983 to 32% in 1995, 20% in 2009 and 17% in 2014. Catholics only lost 2% (10% to 8%) in the same 31 year period, while other Christians (Methodists, Presbyterians) didn't move at all (17% in 1983 and 2014).


    Australia

    Australia is following the same trend as the UK. The country has kept statistics about religion since 1901, which I think is a world record. The 'no religion' group made its appearance in the 1970's and has steadily increased since, at the expense of Protestant Christianity. Like in the UK, Catholicism is mostly unaffected. As of 2011 there were 22.3% of Australians with no religious affiliation and an additional 9.4% with no stated religion.



    New Zealand

    New Zealand has an even bigger share of non-religious people, 42% according to the 2013 census, with 4.5% more with no stated religion, making it more similar to the UK.



    In summary, here are the religious beliefs in the main English-speaking countries.

    Non-religious Catholics Protestants Other Christians Other religions
    United Kingdom (2014) 50% 8% 25% 9% 8%
    New Zealand (2013) 45.3% 12.6% 26.8% 8.5% 6.4%
    Australia (2011) 31.7% 25.3% 32.3% 3.5% 7.2%
    Canada (2011) 23.9% 38.7% 26.9% 1.7% 8.1%
    United States (2014) 23.6% 20.8% 46.5% 3.3% 5.9%


    Europe

    Eurobarometer commissioned a detailed poll on religious beliefs (p. 207) as part of a biotechnology report in 2010. This survey does not ask about religious affiliation but belief in god (theism), belief in some sort of spirit or life force (deism, pantheism), no belief at all (atheism), or don't known (agnosticism). This alternative approach is interesting because some people who consider themselves Christian actually do not believe in god or aren't sure. For the UK we see that only 37% of the population are (mono/poly)theists, followed by 33% of deists/pantheists, 25% of atheists, and 5% of agnostics.

    The countries with the highest number of atheists are France (40%), the Czech Republic (37%), Sweden (34%), the Netherlands (30%), Norway (29%), Estonia (29%), Germany (27%), Slovenia (26%) and the UK (25%). Some EU countries have almost no atheists: Romania (1%), Malta (2%), Cyprus (3%) and Greece (4%). You can find the complete table here.


    Percentage of the population who believe in god


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    The worst point is atheism/irreligion grows between mainly protestan people in West and in Islam, between secular Muslims. Not the fanatics

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Poland and Ireland are sort of evenement in Northern Europe. I think I know why, and it comes from history of both nations. Both countries had rather long fight with their oppressors, Ireland against England, Poland against Russia, and also Prussia and Austria. In both countries there was also a religious struggle of Catholic church against Protestant English or Orthodox Russians. To be Polish or Irish meant to be a Catholic, and Catholic was a synonym of being Polish and Irish. Through centuries of this fight for independance Irish and Poles became hyper nationalistic and hyper Catholic, the church was the force which united nation against enemy. This is quite fresh history as both countries regained full independence just recently, in case of Poland in 1990.

    I don't have an idea why Czechs are at the other side of the spectrum than Poles, although both are very similar culturally and genetically. Anyone willing to take a stab at this?
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Poland and Ireland are sort of evenement in Northern Europe. I think I know why, and it comes from history of both nations. Both countries had rather long fight with their oppressors, Ireland against England, Poland against Russia, and also Prussia and Austria. In both countries there was also a religious struggle of Catholic church against Protestant English or Orthodox Russians. To be Polish or Irish meant to be a Catholic, and Catholic was a synonym of being Polish and Irish. Through centuries of this fight for independance Irish and Poles became hyper nationalistic and hyper Catholic, the church was the force which united nation against enemy. This is quite fresh history as both countries regained full independence just recently, in case of Poland in 1990.

    I don't have an idea why Czechs are at the other side of the spectrum than Poles, although both are very similar culturally and genetically. Anyone willing to take a stab at this?
    I think that the reason for the higher religiosity in Poland and Ireland is simply because they are Catholics. I pointed in the OP that in English-speaking countries the unaffiliated/irreligious people came from the ranks of the Protestants, while Catholics rarely lost their religion.

    Belgium also has far less Atheists than the neighbouring Netherlands, and the main difference is Catholicism vs Protestantism. In fact, the southern Netherlands, which are traditionally Catholic, remain much more religious than the Protestant North.

    The same phenomenon can be observed in Germany. East Germany, which was Protestant before Communism, is overwhelmingly Atheist, even more so than France and the Czech Republic. In West Germany, the Protestant North also has more Atheists today than the Catholic South and West.

    Here is a detailed map of the dominant religion (or irreligion) in the regions and provinces of Europe.


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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I think that the reason for the higher religiosity in Poland and Ireland is simply because they are Catholics. I pointed in the OP that in English-speaking countries the unaffiliated/irreligious people came from the ranks of the Protestants, while Catholics rarely lost their religion.

    Belgium also has far less Atheists than the neighbouring Netherlands, and the main difference is Catholicism vs Protestantism. In fact, the southern Netherlands, which are traditionally Catholic, remain much more religious than the Protestant North.

    The same phenomenon can be observed in Germany. East Germany, which was Protestant before Communism, is overwhelmingly Atheist, even more so than France and the Czech Republic. In West Germany, the Protestant North also has more Atheists today than the Catholic South and West.

    Here is a detailed map of the dominant religion (or irreligion) in the regions and provinces of Europe.
    I agree, it is like Protestanism turning into the Atheism. However Czech Republic was homeland of clear Catholic majority, so they are unique about this issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boreas View Post
    I agree, it is like Protestanism turning into the Atheism. However Czech Republic was homeland of clear Catholic majority, so they are unique about this issue.
    Actually majority of Czechs were Protestant, before Ferdinand and Wallenstein re-catholicized them. Probably this forced catholicism was a bad foundation for developing a deitist belief in general?

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    I don't see any decline in Evangelical Protestantism in the U.S. Rather, I'd say it's growing, among Hispanics, among others. Ted Cruz, who is running for President, although Cuban on his father's side, is an Evangelical Christian. It was actually his father who converted, and indeed became a pastor. Marco Rubio's family, also Cuban-American, became Mormon for a time, although Mormons aren't really looked upon as Evangelical Protestants. The slight decline that appears in the graph is driven by the immigration of people belonging to other religions.

    It's not difficult to understand why there's this big decline particularly among mainline Protestants. It's to some extent inherent in the very founding principles of many of these religions, which led to the loss of central authority, and in the stripping away of what I might call the more "spiritual" or "mystical" aspects of religion and leaving behind mainly the "legal" or "ethical" aspects. A related phenomenon is that mainstream Protestantism has so watered down its theology that it has become virtually meaningless. They are religions without God in a way.

    In the Evangelical Churches, while they don't provide, in most cases, an outlet for the "mystical" side of the religious experience, God is most definitely present in an emotional, personal way, and they also provide an extremely strong sense of community, a community which includes, in particular, young people.

    There is some decline in affiliation as "Catholic" in the U.S. It's just not as great as the decline among mainline Protestants. I think it's also important to keep in mind with regard to Catholics that these charts just track affiliation and general belief in God. They don't track church attendance, which is low and keeps dropping, even among U.S. Catholics, although I've heard anecdotally that after taking a hit after the sex abuse scandals it has rebounded with the new Pope. The charts also don't graph adherence to church doctrine, particularly in terms of what I might call "lifestyle" decisions. I don't know any Catholics who take the proscription against birth control or sex before marriage seriously. I know divorced Catholics who are still given communion, and practicing homosexuals as well. Abortion is a different matter.

    So, there's no fanaticism where practicing Catholics are concerned. I'm not sure I would call most practicing Evangelicals fanatics either. They're certainly strong in their beliefs, and it's a part of their everyday life in a meaningful way, but while they may give you an ear full if you give them an opening, there's no coercion involved, and no desire to take away other people's rights to worship as they choose


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post

    It's not difficult to understand why there's this big decline particularly among mainline Protestants. It's to some extent inherent in the very founding principles of many of these religions, which led to the loss of central authority, and in the stripping away of what I might call the more "spiritual" or "mystical" aspects of religion and leaving behind mainly the "legal" or "ethical" aspects. A related phenomenon is that mainstream Protestantism has so watered down its theology that it has become virtually meaningless. They are religions without God in a way.
    Perhaps so, but I have one more explanation. There might be naturally more and less conservative nations. The more conservative ones always stuck to Catholicism, because it was their tradition. The less conservative ones didn't mind to reform their faith and became Protestants. Whatever it means to be less conservative? To take more risk, to be more open minded, more tolerant, more adaptable? Anyway, this less conservative side might have this natural propensity in turning more deist and atheist these days.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Perhaps so, but I have one more explanation. There might be naturally more and less conservative nations. The more conservative ones always stuck to Catholicism, because it was their tradition. The less conservative ones didn't mind to reform their faith and became Protestants. Whatever it means to be less conservative? To take more risk, to be more open minded, more tolerant, more adaptable? Anyway, this less conservative side might have this natural propensity in turning more deist and atheist these days.
    I don't think there was anything at all tolerant or open minded about John Calvin's Geneva or John Knox' Scotland or the Massachusetts of John Winthrop. (I just realized they were all named John. :) A coincidence owing to the popularity of the name, no doubt.)

    "In the thought of Calvin, state and church were distinct, but each in its proper sphere was to cooperate with the other in their great common purpose: to serve and glorify God. By the end of his career he had achieved a complete dominance of Geneva, which makes it possible for us to see what his full program was.

    All inhabitants had to renounce the Roman faith on penalty of expulsion from the city. Nobody could possess images, crucifixes or other articles associated with the Roman worship. Fasting was prohibited, together with vows, pilgrimages, prayers for the dead, and prayers in Latin. Nobody could say anything good about the pope. It was forbidden to give non-Biblical names to children. In 1555, a man who had been found lighting a candle before the body of his dead child was called before the Consistory.

    Attendance at sermons was compulsory. In addition, one had to arrive on time, remain, and pay attention. In 1547, a man who left during the sermon and made too much noise about it was imprisoned. From 1545, there were domiciliary visits, which were put on a regular semiannual basis in 1550. The homes of the citizens were visited in order to ascertain the state of the family's morals. A great many spies were maintained, to report on matters of conduct and behavior. Dramatic performances were suppressed, except for plays given by schoolboys. Sexual immorality was frequently practiced and frequently chastised. One of the offenses considered particularly serious was criticism of the ministers and especially Calvin.


    From 1546, cards and dice were forbidden. There were to be no taverns; instead, places were provided for eating and drinking, in which pious behavior would be encouraged. In these nurseries of righteousness, a Bible in French was to be displayed, religious conversation encouraged, and excessive drinking, indecent songs, cursing, cards, dice, and dancing forbidden. They were to close at nine in the evening. "

    http://vlib.iue.it/carrie/texts/carr...ilbert/14.html

    There was never anything like this in the Catholic world.

    Puritan New England was much like this, perhaps even worse. They wanted religious freedom only for themselves. The whole purpose of establishing the colony was to set up a theocracy. The result was that Massachusetts bled religious non-conformists who set up their own colonies: Connecticut, Rhode Island, part of Long Island. Even there, religious tolerance was spotty, with only Rhode Island actually being tolerant of other religions.

    This continued even until relatively recent times. Whatever one may think of Mormon theology, people should have the right to believe in whatever they choose, so long as no coercion or violence to adults or abuse of minors is involved, even if that includes one man living with multiple women. However, that wasn't the attitude of New World Protestants. Mormons were routinely beaten, lynched and even burned alive. That's why they trekked west to the deserts of Utah.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    The map above about religions in the Middle East is wrong. At the HEART of the Mesopotamia there is a non-SEMITIC, but Aryan (Iranid) religion of my people. The Yezidism. There are for about 1 million Ezdi Kurds in South Kurdistan, Shengal + Shekhan (Lalish) + Dohuk (= Ezdixan).

    My people don't believe in Allah and we call our GOD, 'Xode Shems' ('Xode' is an Kurdish word for 'God' and 'Shamash' is a Sumerian word for the 'Sun', therefore the Sun God), we believe in 7 angels created by God and the chief of those 7 angels is a upper angel, the Tawuse Melek‎. Tawuse Melek‎ is ruling our planet/universe.

    http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/god...s/lordutu.html
    http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Sa-Sp/Shamash.html



    Btw, I believe in my Sun God and Tawuse Melek‎...

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    Btw, people in the West are creating their own modern religions. Think only about the New Age religions, transhumanism or even the Star Wars religion. Also old religions (like Christianity) in the West are evolving too.


    Religion will be always part of human race...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I don't see any decline in Evangelical Protestantism in the U.S. Rather, I'd say it's growing, among Hispanics, among others.


    As we see in the first post, the number of Evangelical Prostestants are stable.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Romania is another interesting example. They are spending every single Euro to rebuilt old churches. Why communist propogandas abaut religion wasn't effective on Serbs and Romanians. Albania and Bulgaria are not that much stick.

    Also we should add that yes, many atheist have protestant roots but also I guess many neopagans have protestan root as well.

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    We are also forgetting that these people that claim religious affiliations to a particular group, in reality are not practicing and live very secular lives and 'sin' is a very integrated part of their lives (including the Muslim one which is maybe the most bullied one by clerics). There are TRUE believers and practice what they believe , but they are very very few. Others modify their particular believes they are brought up with to their own lifestyle, which is normally a realistic and one of common sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    There is some decline in affiliation as "Catholic" in the U.S. It's just not as great as the decline among mainline Protestants. I think it's also important to keep in mind with regard to Catholics that these charts just track affiliation and general belief in God. They don't track church attendance, which is low and keeps dropping, even among U.S. Catholics, although I've heard anecdotally that after taking a hit after the sex abuse scandals it has rebounded with the new Pope. The charts also don't graph adherence to church doctrine, particularly in terms of what I might call "lifestyle" decisions. I don't know any Catholics who take the proscription against birth control or sex before marriage seriously. I know divorced Catholics who are still given communion, and practicing homosexuals as well. Abortion is a different matter.

    So, there's no fanaticism where practicing Catholics are concerned. I'm not sure I would call most practicing Evangelicals fanatics either. They're certainly strong in their beliefs, and it's a part of their everyday life in a meaningful way, but while they may give you an ear full if you give them an opening, there's no coercion involved, and no desire to take away other people's rights to worship as they choose
    Modern Catholics rarely hold fanatical religious views, at least in developed countries. In Belgium over half of the population still consider themselves Catholics, even though churches are empty. 90% of the secondary/high schools in Belgium are Catholic. Yet most Belgians Catholics would say they are just Catholic by tradition. In fact, when Catholicism appeared in Roman times, it absorbed a great deal of older Roman and Celtic traditions and deities, refashioning pagan gods as "saints", with similar cults and attributes. Instead of giving offering to Roman temples to pray for the healing of a sickness, for success in love, or to avoid being killed in combat, people venerated dedicated saints inherited from the ancient Indo-European polytheism cultures.

    Three main kinds of Protestant movements evolved.

    1) Anglicanism appeared for purely political reasons - Henry VIII's refusal to submit to the Pope's authority, leading to the religious independence of England. But the dogma remained essentially the same as the Catholic one. The Episcopal Church is the American version of the Church of England.

    2) "Enlightened" Protestantism (e.g. Lutherans, Methodists, Unitarians, Quakers), aka mainstream Protestantism in the USA. This is the most liberal and secular group, those were disgusted by the corruption of the Catholic Church and rejected its perversions and its political role. They aimed to create a purer, more individualistic form of Christianity, with a stronger accent on morals than on rites, traditions and superstitions.

    3) Evangelical Protestantism (including Baptism and Pentecostalism) is the most fundamentalist and radical form of Christianity. It took the exact opposite direction of Enlightened Christianity, toward blind, ardent faith rather than toward secularism and atheism. It is most popular in the American Deep South (former Confederate States), which has the highest poverty in the US, due to the high percentage of African Americans. It is also quite popular in Brazil as well as English- and Portuguese-speaking regions of Africa. It is not surprising that hardly any Evangelical Christians become Atheists. They are more toward stronger, not weaker religiosity.

    You can compare the poverty map of the USA with that of the main religious affiliations.







    Catholicism prospered in parts of Europe with an Italo-Celtic heritage. Enlightened Protestantism is essentially a Germanic form of Christianity. The Brits have mixed Celto-Roman and Germanic heritage, but politically the Celto-Roman one prevailed with the centralised, authoritarian, top-down Anglican Church modelled on the Catholic Church. Evangelicalism is most strongly associated with people of African descent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Goga View Post
    The map above about religions in the Middle East is wrong. At the HEART of the Mesopotamia there is a non-SEMITIC, but Aryan (Iranid) religion of my people. The Yezidism. There are for about 1 million Ezdi Kurds in South Kurdistan, Shengal + Shekhan (Lalish) + Dohuk (= Ezdixan).

    My people don't believe in Allah and we call our GOD, 'Xode Shems' ('Xode' is an Kurdish word for 'God' and 'Shamash' is a Sumerian word for the 'Sun', therefore the Sun God), we believe in 7 angels created by God and the chief of those 7 angels is a upper angel, the Tawuse Melek‎. Tawuse Melek‎ is ruling our planet/universe.
    Interesting. I didn't know about that religion. I didn't make the above map, but northern Iraq is shown in a lighter green colour, meaning that Islam is not the only religion in the region, although it has the largest percentage.

    Btw, people in the West are creating their own modern religions. Think only about the New Age religions, transhumanism or even the Star Wars religion. Also old religions (like Christianity) in the West are evolving too.

    Religion will be always part of human race...
    Transhumanism is not a religion at all. I don't think anybody truly believes in "Star Wars religion". They just answered that at the religion census in the UK as a joke instead of 'no religion'.

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    Maps, and statistics, for that matter, which don't distinguish between white Evangelical Christians and black Evangelical Christians are going to give a slightly misleading impression. Another factor is that there are Evangelical Catholics as well, some 20% of all Catholics in some studies.

    If we're talking about "all" Evangelicals or "Born Again" Christians their percentage of the population in the U.S. is very high indeed.

    However, what most people mean when they talk about "Evangelical Christians" in the U.S. is "white, non-Catholic Born Again-Christians". Usually, these people are asked to define themselves in the survey with a simple question: are you an Evangelical or "Born Again" Christian. Then the group is subdivided into Catholic versus non-Catholic, black versus white. Even with this set of restrictive definitions, these white Protestant Evangelicals can be upwards of 30% of the population, and that's not including, as I said, Catholic Evangelicals or black Protestant Evangelicals, or Mormons etc.

    As to this restricted group, this is what Gallup has to say:

    "

    • Evangelical Christians, as defined, are slightly more likely to be female and aged 50 and older than the overall national adult population.
    • Evangelical Christians are somewhat less likely to be college graduates than the total population, but have an income structure that generally mirrors the national population.
    • Evangelical Christians are over-represented in the South, and are underrepresented in the East and, to a lesser degree, in the West compared with the basic U.S. population distribution.
    • Evangelical Christians skew strongly Republican in terms of their political orientation. More than half (54%) identify themselves as Republicans, compared with 35% of the total population. On the other hand, 22% identify as Democrats, compared with 33% of the total population.
    • Along these same lines, almost 6 in 10 evangelical Christians are conservatives, compared with just about 4 in 10 national adults, and they are less likely to identify themselves as moderates or liberals."


    This is what Pew has to say:
    "
    Differences in income across religious traditions largely mirror the differences in educational attainment. Jews and Hindus are among the groups most likely to report an annual household income of $100,000 or more (44% of Jews and 36% of Hindus). By contrast, large shares of members of the historically black Protestant tradition (53%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (48%) and people who say their religion is “nothing in particular” but that religion is at least somewhat important in their lives (47%) report household incomes of under $30,000 a year.

    Catholics and Protestants overall largely mirror the U.S. general public in their income levels, though Protestants in the mainline tradition are somewhat more well-off by this measure than are their counterparts in the evangelical and historically black Protestant traditions.


    Atheists and agnostics tend to be relatively wealthy, with about six-in-ten in each group making $50,000 or more per year. By contrast, those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” and who say religion is unimportant to them closely mirror the population as a whole, while those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” but that religion is at least somewhat important to them tend to have below-average family incomes."

    http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/c...igious-groups/

    It's not as simple as religious commitment equals low education and low income.

    I think family and community trumps everything else if they are particularly strong. That's why groups like Orthodox Jews and Mormons have high levels of education and/or income but remain very conservative in their religious views. As part of this "community" and what I think keeps many of the young committed, these religious groups have set up their own schools, even up to the university level, such as Brigham Young University, Texas Methodist University and dozens of other Methodist and Baptist colleges and universities, and the many Jewish affiliated universities.

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