Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Losing Our Religion

So all over the blogosphere, Paganii are talking about this new study showing a significant decline in the number of Americans who call themselves xian, or indeed religious. Within xianity, dwindled though it may be, more people call themselves "evangelicals," but the authors of the report note that it's not always as easy as one might think to figure out what "evangelical" means.

I'm pretty fascinated with the fact that, over the last two decades, as xians have grown in political influence, their actual percentage w/in the population has been shrinking. For the past two decades, as xianists have made control of women's bodies their number one cause, as they've shown themselves to be obsessed with gay sex and denying evolution, as priests have been exposed as pedophiles and bishops as enablers, as xians have loudly and forcefully supported warmongers such as George W. Bush, Americans have been saying, in statistically-significant numbers: "No thanks. Not with my Sunday afternoon. Not with my kids. Not with my funeral service." Yet, among those who stayed or became xians, evangelicalism appears to be a growth industry. (Requisite disclaimer: There are lots of wonderful xians in America. Some of my best friends are xian. They haven't been out front and center, they don't get media attention, and they don't, sadly, seem very willing to criticize their co-religionists when necessary.)

I can't think that there's anything but good to come from this report. I don't expect Obama to close his unconstitutional, and expanded, Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. I don't expect politicians to stop kissing xian butt. But I am glad to see more and more Americans saying, "If that's religion, religion's not for me."

As for Wicca, as I was saying to a friend recently, we're basically a religion that doesn't want converts, a religion that would prefer that you go find something else, a religion that stands up and goes "Shhhsss. Shhhsss. Go away. Nothing to see here. We don't want you in our religion." And that's the way I like it. We've grown too much, too fast, IMHO.

One of the findings that interests me the most is captured in this chart from the report:

Gender Composition of the Religious Traditions 2008

% Male % Female
Catholic 46 54
Baptist 43 57
Mainline Christian 44 56
Christian Generic 48 52
Pentecostal/Charismatic 42 58
Protestant Denominations 45 55
Mormon/LDS 45 55
Jewish 49 51
Eastern Religions 53 47
Muslim 52 48
NRM & Other Religions 52 48
Nones 60 40

New Religions Movements (Scientology, New Age, Eckankar, Spiritualist, Unitarian-Universalist, Deist, Wiccan, Pagan, Druid, Indian Religion, Santeria, Rastafarian), [and it's pretty damn funny that the authors of the report consider Unitarians, Diests, Pagans, and Druids to be "new" religious movements] Eastern Religions, Muslims, and "Nones" (people who report no religion) are the only categories that report more men than women. And, yet, in all the various "traditional" religions -- where male leaders far outnumber and often claim the entire field from females -- women members outnumber men. It's odd for me, a Dianic witch, to figure out what that means. Are there that many Pagan men? The study says:

Since women live longer than men there are normally more women than men in the population. The current sex ratio or gender balance of the national U.S. adult population is 49 males to every 52 females. Table 7 reveals that there is a split among the religious traditions whereby Christian groups tend to meet or exceed
this female bias whereas all the non-Christians in the bottom five rows exceed the national average of 49 percent males. Among the religious groups having more female adherents are the Pentecostals, Baptists, and Mainline Christians of which 56%-58% are females. The most gender unbalanced group is the Nones, those who profess no religion or self-identified as atheists or agnostics. The ratio of 60 males to 40 females is a remarkable result. These gender patterns correspond with many earlier findings that show women to be more religious than men particularly in majority Christian societies. The male gender bias found among the minority religious traditions such as Muslims and the Eastern Religions is due to the high proportion of young immigrant males in these groups.

Go away. Find some other religion. Be a "None." Scat.

Photo found here.


Kraxpelax said...

Personal announcement!

My Art:

My Poetry:

My Philosophy:

- Peter Ingestad, Sweden

Liz said...

Maybe the decline in the number of Americans who call themselves Christians, or religious is because Christianity, or religiosity just don't deliver. And maybe that's because it's all about keeping the sheep in line, to control them, what you think, what you read, what movies you can or cannot watch, what you can or cannot do with your body. The doctrine of guilt and fear, eternal damnation and burning for eternity in hell, unless you do what Father or Brother Whoever tells you is the right thing. Never mind thinking, seeking for yourself, you aren't capable of knowing these mysteries! Humanity is waking up, I believe, over the bullshit religion has been feeding us for centuries. And maybe that's why Wicca has such appeal, it's outside the religious box,as it were. And just be token of being outside the box, I'm afraid it could become trendy for some, and not a real seeking for personal truth. That's my rant. And there are wonderful Christians, like my darling friend Debbie, born again and baptized in the holy ghost, who has no problem with my Goddess worship.

Celestite said...

Kraxpelax...are you sure you are on the right blog????

Celestite said...

I think the explanation of numbers of young immigrant males tipping the scales a bit may be accurate.

I fear that part of the reason may be a disturbing trend for young women to seek religion, marriage and jobs where a man will take care of them and tell them what to do.
What century are we in again?

Liz said...

And the Bush crucifix picture was totally creepy....

Persephone said...

Don't worry about me. I'm just a solitary pagan witch, not Wiccan. But I happily share my books, Wiccan and otherwise, and what little bit I've learned, and I love finding more and more women in my life who are looking for something else, who, as their lives move from mother to crone, look beyond what they've always believed, or at least accepted. And I watch my sons growing up questioning everything (sometimes extremely annoying) and I'm happy because I hope this means they will not buy into anything just because someone tells them it is the way, the only way. And I regret that I will probably never see my parents again before they die because of their involvement in a death cult masquerading as the truth. But it's a small regret now. It is sad they will not know their beautiful grandsons, but that is their poor choice.

nanoboy said...

I love how women make up a sizable majority of the Southern Baptist Church (my own childhood church) but are not allowed to be preachers, deacons, or often music directors. They keep coming back for more.

That said, in a given SBC church, the women run the show. They're the ones who organize events and so on. I'm not sure why they put up with it.

Then again, as a non-religious person myself, I don't see why anyone puts up with a religion as rigid as Southern Baptism.

ARIE said...

As for Wicca...

I personally am sensing the awakening of the Goddess. More and more people are becoming attuned to her energy. Like an energy field that is becoming stronger and stronger.

We are experiencing change. But it is only the beginning.

Maybe as a Reclaiming Witch I feel myself as part of a larger circle and am experiencing things differently as those who work in closer circles.

But Hey, We are the Change.

Spring Blessings.


Rhondda said...

Hey, Persephone, I am with you. If the Wiccan elite don't want me, I know the Goddess does. I too watch my sons, but really they have to come to it themselves. I am solitary too and am aghast at some women's exclusivity, especially on the net and their shunning.

Xan said...

I think I understand where Hecate is coming from with the "shhh...go away" even while I have to admit I too found it personally somewhat...hurtful. There *is* a danger in things that grow too fast: teachers turn into gurus who turn into bureaucrats tracking growth rates with PowerPoint. Customs are codified into accepted practices which harden into doctrine. Etc. Every one of the religions considered "major" today went through the process in becoming as big as they are, and who wants that?

Here in very rural west Tennessee I have little choice but to be a solitary. But I'm not sure if I heard of a circle an easy hop skip and jump away that I could get to, that I would be in any hurry to join. Working with other people on such a personal thing is scary, even disregarding the probable response of the more nutcase Xians around here to such a thing in their midst.

All any of us can do is walk our own path. A trip into the wilderness to find our totem, our voice, our purpose or our whatever has a long tradition in our species. sometimes the trip takes days, sometimes it takes our whole life long.

Derek said...

I see what Xan is saying and it makes sense. If a religion grows too big, too fast, it can become something completely alien from what it began as. However, I'm also hoping that people who truly want to join Wicca won't be turned away simply out of the fear that the religion will lose it's way if it does grow. The only constant is change. BB

Sia said...


"Shsss, Shss, Nothing to see here. Go away".

Yes, absolutely.

and then later,

"oh, are you still here?" Well? What are you going to do about it?. Well? Don't just stand about! A witch deals with things. "


Persephone said...

I didn't mean to sound pissy in my comments. I am truly sorry if they were interpreted that way. I am not Wiccan as I don't find it an appropriate fit for me. I started as a solitary, slowly finding my way. I hope that I will someday find others who will join with me at least sometimes for learning and comparing.