For Immediate Release: May 14, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) responded today to the outlandish assertions made by Vice President Pence at Hillsdale College in Michigan on Saturday that religious belief is on the rise in America, due in large part to President Trump. CFI, an organization advancing science and secularism, presented scientific survey data to show that religious belief is actually on the decline, and rebuked Mr. Pence for using his role as vice president to promote religion.
“It’s important to point out just how inappropriate it is for Mr. Pence to proselytize on behalf of Christianity in his role as Vice President of the United States. It’s yet another example of this administration seeking to break down the constitutionally mandated wall of separation between church and state,” said Nicholas Little, CFI’s Legal Director.
“It is mind-boggling that the vice president can claim with a straight face that the presidency of Donald Trump is somehow causing faith to ‘rise again.’ In survey after survey, religious belief continues to decline,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “In one sense, the vice president is correct that church attendance and belief in the Bible have indeed remained remarkably consistent over the decades,” said Lemieux. “They have gone consistently down.”
According to Gallup, church attendance is going down, belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God is going down, and belief in God is going down. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated are growing as a share of the American population, and according to Pew Research, they are now the second-largest “belief” group in the country at 23 percent.
In addition, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that the nonreligious now outnumber white evangelicals. Between 2003 and 2017, white evangelicals dropped from 21 percent of the population to 13. During that same period, the nonreligious swung the other way, rising from 12 percent to 21.
“Mr. Pence is also wrong to claim that faith and religion are foundational to the American republic,” said Little. “It is the secular nature of our Constitution, and the Founders’ embrace of a government that privileges no religion, that gave the religious and nonreligious alike the freedom to live out their beliefs without interference from the state and without special favor for any one faith group.”