Who doesn’t like a scheme to explain everything? Well, Ross Douthat takes the recent Pew data and argues that we are seeing more a division into three camps. The religions, the secular, and the “spiritual”. And it may not stay that way.
Basically, the biggest thing we’re seeing happening, visible in those declining religious affiliation numbers and the steady rise of the “nones,” is that part of what I’m calling the vast “spiritual” middle of American life is drifting in a more secular direction. I say drifting because disaffiliation is not enough to define a person as secular, and indeed one of the striking things about the unaffiliated is how many of them still have religious habits — prayer, belief in God or an afterlife, etc. — and how few explicitly self-identify as atheists.