Reuters reports that only 47 percent of Irish polled said they were religious people, a 22-point drop from the 69 percent recorded in 2005 to the Irish numbers for 2011. A 22-point drop in 6 years? Hello?
Ireland is a special case, with the scandal of sex abuse and how the hierarchy handled it. But the worldwide stats are also troubling. Average religiosity in the 57 countries included in the poll was 59 percent, a decline of 9 points since 2005. The number of people declaring themselves to be convinced atheists rose from 4 percent worldwide in 2005 to 7 percent this year. This is a significant increase.
North America reported 57 percent religiosity, Western Europe 51 percent. This suggests to me that we in North America aren’t that different from those ‘secularized’ Western Europeans. But maybe our Canadian neighbors to the north are dragging down our better US numbers?? But note this: the drop in religiosity in the US is from 73% to 60% – quite a hefty drop for 7 years.
83 percent of Protestants and 81 percent of Catholics described themselves as religious. It’s hard to tell how much that’s good news or bad news - recall that Jesus probably wouldn’t have described himself as “religious” as understood by the religious authorities of his day.
Is organized religion in trouble? Oh yeah, I think it is. Are we, in the U.S. and elsewhere, at the beginning of a massive decline in religious engagement? Too soon to tell, but I see increasing signs suggesting that is the case.