Is religion losing its influence on American life? In 2014, more Americans than ever before—almost three quarters—said yes, according to Pew surveys. Only 22% said religion is increasing its influence. Do you think this trend is good, bad, or indifferent?
If you ask Clay Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, it’s definitely a bad trend. He relates an experience he had with a Marxist economist from China who was in the U.S. on a fellowship.
Christensen asked if he had learned anything surprising or unexpected.
The Chinese economist’s immediate reaction was this: “I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy.” He explained that democracy works not because the government closely monitors and controls people, but because “most people, most of the time, voluntarily choose to obey the law.”
Religion is the reason why people voluntarily choose to do so. People feel accountable to God, not just to society.
The declining influence of religion in America worried the Chinese economist, seeing that the moral bulwark of democracy might be eroding.
Christensen concluded, “If you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.”
Perhaps this is why an increasing number of Americans say that religion should play a larger role in politics, according to Pew.
The results from the Pew survey show that we are starting 2015 with the perception (perhaps the reality) that the influence of religion is waning in America.
Do you believe that religion is losing its influence?
Is faith essential for the functioning of democracy?
Want to see Clay Christensen pose this argument? Click the video below …