The Oxford University Press blog presents a highlight from the book “Five myths about church and state in America” by David Sehat. For example:
4. America is more secular than it used to be.
The American Revolution was actually a low point in American religious adherence. Sociologists have shown that no more than 20 percent of the population in 1776 belonged to a church. Then, under the influence of evangelical expansion during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century, church membership grew rapidly until, by 1850, more than one-third of Americans belonged to a church. In 1890, after another round of Protestant evangelization and Catholic immigration from Ireland, Italy and elsewhere, the proportion rose to 45 percent. And in 1906, church members became a majority — 51 percent of the population.
The trend continues. In 2000, 62 percent of the populace belonged to religious institutions, if not specifically Christian churches. Evangelical Christians still lead this expansion, and their influence has become more pronounced, not less, over the past two centuries. The presidency of George W. Bush — the most evangelical commander in chief — testifies that Americans are becoming more religious, not less.”