Belief Limbo

In September 2017, the Public Religion Research Institute published a study of religion in America that showed a tripling of the religiously unaffiliated since 1990, from 8 percent to 24 percent of the population. The majority of the unaffiliated call themselves secular; a quarter of the unaffiliated call themselves atheists or agnostics. Consistent with this trend, a Pew Research Center study showed that half of Americans now attend religious services rarely or never, while half of these people admit their attendance represents a decline from the past. Basically, today's religiously unaffiliated separate into two groups: determined atheists hostile toward religion, and a much larger group of people who are unsure, uninterested, undecided, or just too busy for religion, and who live in "belief limbo."

Most media attention focuses on fights between atheists and the faithful. Less attention is paid to the inner lives of those in belief limbo. Many of the latter just drift along in life, following the world's way. Some of them dislike organized religion, while others simply fell out of the habit of going to a house of worship. Some of them are superficially resolute, but in the depth of their minds feel puzzled about how to live their lives, while others admit to spiritual hunger. They are a diverse group, and no single factor accounts for their attitude toward religion.

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