Americans Aren’t Just Becoming Less Religious—They’re Abandoning Religion

Over the past three decades, the proportion of Americans who say that they have no religion at all has risen steeply, from about 5 percent to about 25 percent. Numerous social scientists, journalists, and clergymen have commented on the growing numbers of these “nones” (as demographers have dubbed them), but Stephen Bullivant adds something new in his book Nonverts: The Making of Ex-Christian America. Mark Movsesian writes in his review:

What makes his book original and worthwhile, in addition to the engaging writing and interesting case studies, is [Bullivant’s] focus on an important factor that scholars sometimes overlook. The vast majority of nones, about two-thirds or three-quarters, weren’t born that way. They made a conscious choice to disaffiliate from the faith traditions in which they were raised. They converted, in other words, from having a religion to not having one: they are, in his phrase, “nonverts.” Focusing on nonverts specifically, rather than nones generally, is a useful way to understand the changes that are roiling American culture.

Bullivant rejects the conventional view that nonverts tend to come from the ranks of people whose religious affiliation was indifferent to begin with—those who were Christians in name only. Many nones “were once genuinely believing and practicing—even ‘painfully devout,’” he writes. It isn’t simply weak Christians who are drifting away, but true believers. As a consequence, he believes, the crisis facing American Christianity is real and worse than many would like to admit.

Bullivant is quick to point out that American Christianity, even conservative Christianity, is by no means dead. American Christianity still has many millions of followers and great spiritual resources. Indeed, traditional religions in general have shown some surprising resilience lately. As Bullivant points out, the culture wars have done wonders for ecumenism, encouraging conservative followers of many faith traditions—Catholics, evangelicals, Mormons, Orthodox Jews, and so on—to make a common cause. Still, Bullivant’s basic point, that “America is demonstrably becoming less religious than it was,” seems correct. Nonverts give a good sense of exactly what is going on.

Read more at Law and Liberty

More about: American Religion, Christianity, Decline of religion

Would an American-Backed UN Resolution Calling for a Temporary Ceasefire Undermine Israel?

Yesterday morning, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by Algeria, that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As an alternative, the American delegation has been circulating a draft resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” Benny Avni comments:

While the Israel Defense Force may be able to maintain its Gaza operations under that provision, the U.S.-proposed resolution also warns the military against proceeding with its plan to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel says that a critical number of Hamas fighters are hiding inside tunnels and in civilian buildings at Rafah, surrounded by a number of the remaining 134 hostages.

In one paragraph, the text of the new American resolution says that the council “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

In addition to the paragraph about Rafah, the American-proposed resolution is admonishing Israel not to create a buffer zone inside Gaza. Such a narrow zone, as wide as two miles, is seen by many Israelis as a future protection against infiltration from Gaza.

Perhaps, as Robert Satloff argues, the resolution isn’t intended to forestall an IDF operation in Rafah, but only—consistent with prior statements from the Biden administration—to demand that Israel come up with a plan to move civilians out of harms way before advancing on the city.

If that is so, the resolution wouldn’t change much if passed. But why is the U.S. proposing an alternative ceasefire resolution at all? Strategically, Washington has nothing to gain from stopping Israel, its ally, from achieving a complete victory over Hamas. Why not instead pass a resolution condemning Hamas (something the Security Council has not done), calling for the release of hostages, and demanding that Qatar and Iran stop providing the group with arms and funds? Better yet, demand that these two countries—along with Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon—arrest Hamas leaders on their territory.

Surely Russia would veto such a resolution, but still, why not go on the offensive, rather than trying to come up with another UN resolution aimed at restraining Israel?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship, United Nations