The American Psychiatric Association recently released a study on religious identity, and it was a shocker.
The study, which surveyed nearly 8,000 adults from a large cross-section of the United States, found that the overwhelming majority of Americans are Christian, but a very small percentage of them identify as religiously unaffiliated.
For a full breakdown of the results, read our analysis of the findings.
As a Christian, I’ve never felt comfortable being an atheist.
But this is America, where the majority of my fellow citizens have embraced religion.
To my mind, this is the most important question of our time.
How do we reconcile our religious and secular identities?
How do our religious beliefs impact our daily lives?
How can we best make the best of our shared humanity?
This is a difficult question to answer.
A few years ago, I began studying the topic of spirituality, and I came to a few conclusions.
First, most of us have very deep spiritual experiences, which we share with others.
This can be quite profound.
If you have no interest in the religion of your parents or grandparents, you can always go back to them.
Second, the world is populated by people with different beliefs and values, including the beliefs and value systems of others.
Some people believe in God and others do not.
For most people, the concept of spirituality is just as important as religion.
Third, the experiences of many of our ancestors who believed in God also influenced how they viewed the world, and this is an important factor in shaping our beliefs.
While I find these insights quite fascinating, I also realized that there are still so many unanswered questions.
Why are so many Americans so religiously unafflicted?
Are we all, as the study found, “religiously indifferent?”
What is the relationship between the religious and the secular?
Are there people who do not fit into either group?
Do people who belong to one religion really hold more beliefs about the world and about other people than do people who are not?
The answers to these questions will have a profound impact on how we live our lives, how we worship and how we interact with others and with the natural world.
The American Psychiatric Society and the Association of American Publishers recently released their report on religious affiliation, which provides the answers to all these questions.
One of the most intriguing findings from the study is that a significant number of people who identify as Christian are actually religiously unafflicanted.
Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed said that they have “not given much thought to a religious affiliation” during their lifetime.
According to the report, more than half of the religiously unafferents have never attended church.
This means that most of the unaffiliated have no desire to attend religious services.
For the religiously affiliated, the experience of attending religious services is more important than the time spent.
When I was growing up, my religious experience was one of a family, of which I was the only member.
I was surrounded by others who did not share my beliefs, and these people would talk to me as if I was just a little child.
This experience taught me that I was unique.
In contrast, a large percentage of those who identify with a religion are religious.
These people do not have a large family or a large congregation.
They are more likely to be friends with members of their faith, attend religious worship services, and even attend religious schools.
For example, more men than women identify as atheists.
It is this difference in the way religious and nonreligious people relate to each other that creates the most significant impact on the way we interact.
Most of the research suggests that the religious experience can play an important role in how we perceive the world.
A 2013 study found that a large majority of the nonreligious do not see themselves as part of a religious community.
They view themselves as the outsiders.
That is a key insight.
When we are in a group of people that does not identify as part to some particular religious tradition, we can perceive them as outsiders.
In contrast, when we are part of an organized religious group, we have a strong sense of belonging.
Our religious experience provides us with a sense of self.
This gives us a sense that we are not outsiders, and we do not feel alone.
It is a powerful way of thinking about ourselves.
So, if you are a Christian or an atheist, you may not have an easy answer.
Do you identify as a Christian?
Do you believe in the Christian God?
If so, what do you believe about him and the Christian faith?
Are you religiously unafflagged?
Is there a significant difference between you and other people who have the same beliefs and experience as you?
Or do you feel you fit into both groups?
Do your beliefs impact your daily lives as much as your religion?