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This weekend's column: Religion out; civil society in ...

Published October 13, 2012 2:02 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Above: Is Doctor Who a religion?

This weekend's column. Peruse and comment.

Religion replaced by civil society — George Pyle | The Salt Lake Tribune

... A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey puts the number of Americans who follow no organized religion at nearly 20 percent of the adult population, and growing. For the first time in American history, mainline Protestant churches claim the loyalty of less than half of us.

Following no organized religion does not mean that individuals do not believe in God, or a higher power. It just means they are compelled to define and follow that power on their own, being responsible for their own decisions, not outsourcing their thinking to any Earthly leader. And that should make democracy easier, not harder.

When no single religion is in a superior position of power, participants in a democracy must find another common language, the language of civil society, in which to converse. Preferred policies must be argued in terms of rational facts, because no one can simply claim it is God's will and shut down the conversation.

Think it won't work? It worked for Martin Luther King Jr. Yes, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., best known for his I Have A Dream Speech, 99 percent of which could have been embraced, even delivered, by the staunchest of atheists. Because it was all about America's civil creed of equality and freedom. Because it was about man's laws, not God's. Because we, not our religions, are responsible for the choices we make. Or, in the case of the Pakistani Taliban, the little girls we shoot. ...

— Rise of 'nones' huge change — Scranton Times-Tribune

... For the nation the trend is a step into historically uncharted territory that might leave voids in society beyond diminished religious practice itself.

— Here's who you aren't seeing at church — Lauren Markoe | Religion News Service, via Springfield Journal Register

Survey: Americans overestimate Mormon, Muslim numbers — Jeanie Groh | Religion News Service, via Salt Lake Tribune