Four years ago, the Pew Research Center released a report showing a decline in religious affiliation in general — and Christianity, in particular — in the United States.
Still, over 70 percent of Americans surveyed in 2014 identified themselves as Christians. But that is down from 78.4 percent in 2007, the last time Pew surveyed religious affiliations.
“America’s Changing Religious Landscape” found the biggest gain was in a group identifying its affiliation as “none.” That group is up to 15.8 percent from 12.1 percent in 2007.
But, just because the “nones” have no religious affiliation doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t believe in God. Only 3.1 percent of the population describe themselves as atheists; 4 percent call themselves agnostics.
It is worrisome to see the drop in affiliation. Despite widespread and highly publicized breeches of trust by leaders, religion is traditionally the repository of a society’s moral code. Parents are assisted by churches, synagogues, mosques and temples in teaching children to respect the rights, feelings and beliefs of others.
In short, religion has traditionally played a large role in developing consciences and civilizing the young.
Yes, there have been perversions of religion throughout history — some continue today. But the central role religion has played in creating a civilized society should not be ignored or downplayed.
Portions of this editorial have appeared previously in The Maui News.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.