Recent studies have shown that while 46 million adults are unaffiliated to a specific religion they are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor. With few exceptions, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.
It’s been said that when things look down, people look up and seek the help and comfort of their God. It will be interesting to see how these challenges to religion and the customs that will be playing out throughout the upcoming Christmas season will be further affected this year. A number of nativity events have been shuttered as a result of legal threats, but as we’ve seen throughout history, efforts to restrict certain practices or beliefs tends to have the reverse affect. It’s unfortunate that we go through these challenging periods of time, but like so many things we experience in life it all seems to be for a purpose in the end. Those of faith and those who chose a different path will hopefully look back on this time period as some type of turning point and however you chose to view these events, I hope we can all agree the discussions and outcomes will serve to strengthen our nation, our beliefs and our ability to be tolerant of each other.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.