Organized religion will go the way of the dinosaurs in nine Western democracies, reports CNN
"Religion will be driven toward extinction" in Ireland, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands, researchers conclude in a
new paper. It will also fade in Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland,
and Switzerland, they predict. "If you look at the data, 'unaffiliated'
is the fastest-growing group," said the paper's lead author. The U.S.
could not be included in the study, because unlike the other countries,
census data on religion was not available. The study began with two
sociological assumptions. First, people want to be part of the majority
rather than the minority, making it increasingly desirable to avoid
church rather than to attend. "Just a few connections to people who are
[religiously] unaffiliated is enough to drive the effect," said the lead
author. Also, there are social, economic, and political benefits to not
being religious in these countries. "The utility of being unaffiliated
seems to be higher than affiliated in Western democracies," he said.
Despite the lack of U.S. data, other studies suggest people who identify
as "unaffiliated" are the fastest-growing belief group in the United