UNL professor says ‘politicization of religion’ has led some to leave church

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — More and more Americans are deciding not to have a religious affiliation, according to a survey from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Philip Schwadel, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the decline could be tied to an increase in tolerance for lifestyles that fall outside certain religious sectors.

“Starting in the 1990s we saw religion decline in the United States, and a portion of Americans who claim they have no religion skyrocketed,” Schwadel said.

The survey reported that religious affiliation among Americans is down from 62% to 39%.

“Our research shows that as nations become more advanced, as people worry less about the basic needs of daily life, existential security, religion tends to decline,” Schwadell said. “We see this in a lot of advanced industrialized nations. As they progress, as people worry less about feeding their families, clothing their families, housing their families, their literal safety every day, religion tends to decline.”

If you’re wondering why the decrease has been steadily growing over the decades, it could have something to do with the intersection of religion and politics.

“We also have the politicization of religion which has been a big problem and has led some people to leave religion,” Schwadel said. “Increasingly, they’re seeing this as religion related to politics and they don’t want anything to do with that.”

Schwadel said the lack of religious affiliation can have immense long-term effects in society, including volunteerism, which is also down by nearly 10% throughout Nebraska.

It’s important to note that while religious affiliation is down, many Americans still identify with some form of non-organized religion.

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