Monday, December 21, 2009

The Decline of Religion in the US

According to Pew Research the fastest growing religious affiliation in the US is "no religion". The percentage of unaffiliated Americans has risen from 7 percent to 16 percent in just one year. What's behind this shift?

Religion is a product. If you want to expand your market share, you have to deliver what your customers want. What do religious customers want? Answers. Answers that will actually help them in their daily lives. The old stand-by's still work: Treat others as you would have them treat you. Honesty is the best policy. However, you don't need religion to abide by those. Believing that a whale can swallow a man whole, or that spinning a wheel several times a day will bring you good fortune, hasn't produced a lot of measurable results.

The question then becomes, Do you really have to buy into a pre-packaged dogma to be a good person and live a fruitful life? More and more people are answering; No.

Some of the old traditions from major religions actually did make good sense and may have saved lives. Things like not eating pork, occasional fasting and those types of acts of faith have actually been proven to have health benefits. But now we have logical explanations for those benefits. Improperly cooked pork and eating too much don't kill you because they displease God, they're just not healthy.

If religion is going to make a comeback, they have to come up with a better pitch than the promise of heaven if you say enough Hail Mary's or Lord's prayers, or the threat of hell if you don't put enough dough in the collection basket. Religion is in dire need of some creative innovators. They need new ideas that produce real benefits for 21st century members. I'd give some examples, but I'm not going to do your homework for you. Try praying on it.

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