Lyman Stone attempts to answer that question in a new paper published by the American Enterprize Institute. The title is “Promise and peril: The history of American religiosity and its recent decline,” and the key findings are:
- American religiosity is in rapid decline according to numerous measures.
- However, Americans today remain more religious than many other countries and, by some measures, more religious than at many times in American history.
- Alongside decline in the extent of religious belief and behavior, the social, political, and legal environment in America has become less hospitable to virtually all forms of religion over the past 75 years.
- The most likely causes of declining religiosity are the increasingly intense role that more and more secularized educational institutions play in children’s lives and the continuing delay and decline of marriage.
I find the last of those findings particularly significant.