Yes, I am throwing my hat in the religious ring. The latest numbers are out from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study, confirming the ongoing trend of the adult American public becoming increasingly irreligious. However, those who are affiliated with a religious tradition have actually become slightly more religious. The generalization being made by Pew and secondary outlets is that Americans as a whole are becoming less religious, but those who are religious are staying that way. The survey was taken in 2014 and succeeds a previous survey from 2007. Key numbers include:
- Belief in God dropped from 92% to 89%, considered “remarkably high” relative to Europe.
- “Absolutely certain” belief in God, or strong theism, saw a larger decline from 71% to 63%,
- The religiously unaffiliated population has grown from 16% to 23%.
- Theism among unaffiliates has dropped from 70% to 61%, and 65% say religion is not too important/not important at all, up from 57%.
- 77% of Americans identify with a religious faith, and about as strongly as they did in 2007.
- Religiously affiliated people still pray and attend church services at the same rate as before and have seen a ~3% increase in reading scripture regularly or with others.
- Only 52% of millennials are strong theists.
- There is pretty much a three-way-tie between millennials born 1990-1996 on whether religion is very important, somewhat important, or not very important/not important at all. Only 28% attend services weekly.
- For the first time, a plurality of Democrats are religious unaffiliates, taking that position in the party from Catholics.
- A plurality of Republicans remain evangelical Protestants.
- When all denominations are combined, Protestants still make up the majority of supporters of both parties.
- 68% of Catholics think some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life while 31% of evangelical Protestants do.
- Nearly half of evangelical Protestants say the growing number of immigrants has been a change for the worse, far higher than the share of other religious groups who say the same. Only about a fifth think it has been good.
- For Catholics, the split on immigration in terms of better-worse-neutral is even.
The United States remains a statistically Christian country—certainly more than any in Europe—but the faith has declined sharply among the rising generation. Yet for many Christianity remains central to a sense of Whiteness. So what does any of this mean? For the alt-right? For White nationalism? Identitarianism?
I will offer my two cents, and I think they should make sense for Christians especially: If a movement requires youth to succeed and the youth largely do not care about religion, there will be problems if one is required to be Christian to be a White nationalist. Among the traditionalist wing, it is often argued that Christianity is an integral part of European identity, but from American mouths this makes almost no sense; the Church is moribund on the mother Continent (Islam is technically the most practiced religion in Britain and France, for example, if you go by regular service attendance). If you do believe in "Deus vult" Christianity—a strong-armed, pro-European, countersemitic religion—one has to acknowledge that in the current year such an interpretation is at the metapolitical stage, not the institutional one. Setting up house churches and forming new communities is what deus-vulters should focus their energies on; the American way is to create new faiths rather than stand athwart degenerating ones yelling "stop".
Revitalizing Christianity and proselytizing White nationalism thus find themselves in a similar position, but they are not inherently prerequisites of one another. Consider that Christianity does not require one to become jewish and follow kosher laws in order to become Christian, something decided upon after ample debate among the Church Fathers. This reorientation allowed Christianity to spread beyond jewish communities in the Levant with much greater intensity. So if you are a European Christian, that’s who you have to thank for your religion. Similarly, White nationalism must present itself as something that value-adding Whites can play a role in regardless of whether or not they follow a Christian sect.
Which leads me to another point, the religious “nones.” This is a group that is growing and one that isn’t particularly uniform ideologically. This audience is as ripe for conversion as any other. The supposition that Christians are inherently going to be sympathetic to White nationalism does not mean non-Christians won't be. It is often said that the last two hundred years have been an age of ‘-isms,’ and that these ideological -isms functioned as secular religions. Millions of people once embraced communism in Europe while millions more were subject to it. Of course, sometimes there is syncretism between formal religion and, say, nationalism, to name another -ism from the preceding era. Does nationalism in Ireland or Poland exist without Catholicism? In India without Hinduism? Generally speaking, no.
Now in the United States, religious pluralism—chiefly that of Christian sects, deism and atheism—is a defining feature of the Anglo-American population. The djinn of non-conformity is long out of the lamp. It is part of who we are and has been a European institution since Westphalia. We cannot elevate any one of these faiths or non-faiths to being the ideal belief system of the Anglo-American nation without alienating the other parts, who have equal claim to White identity. This is crucial considering that only half of all young people consider themselves strong theists, with the remainder being agnostic or atheist. I further suspect if broken down by race, White youths would be even less theistic than blacks and hispanics—less than half perhaps. This cannot be ignored in a discussion on religion.
I am completely supportive of pro-White Christianity, pro-White atheism and pro-White Paganism. How that works itself out in each is for each of those groups to figure out. But the crucial variable is the secular religion of the fourteen words, not theism.