According to Mr. Google, 92% of Americans believe in God, 83% are Christians and a majority of Americans say that religion is “very important” in their lives. But it could all change very quickly.
When Ireland joined the European Union — at a time when the then Archbishop of Dublin boasted that 90% of Ireland was Catholic and that 90% of the 90% attended Mass every Sunday — it was predicted that within 30 years Ireland would be as feeble in its Church-going as France, Italy or Spain. The prediction was off only by a few years. The next three decades in the U.S. may well see a major shift in the religious landscape.
There will still be a “Bible Belt,” but despite all the noise that Protestant Fundamentalists make, I believe that their political and cultural influence has long since reached its high-water mark. From the accounts I’ve read, the “mainline Protestant” churches continue to lose members and their influence diminishes. The Catholic Church is reeling from the abuse scandal, its schools are closing in many parts of the country and the clergy shortage is beginning to bite.
As Bette Davis so famously said, “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.” But, with all that, I need to remind myself that America is a country of constant surprises. Who knows what’s going to happen to our belief system? Only God.