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5 Signs That America Is Moving Away from Religion

If you look closely there are promising signs that American attitudes are changing in a way that may blunt the impact of religion on politics and culture.

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4. Hate group that exploited religion to bash gays hemorrhaging funds

As Americans increasing reject the politics of hate, the right-wing groups that thrive on it are facing tough times.

While many practicing Christians live their faith without trying to impose their values on others, the aggressive Christian extremism of organizations like Focus on the Family has always been charged by the demonization of people who are not like them.

Unfortunately for FOTF, many Americans just don't hate gay people enough to keep them afloat. In 2008,  FOTF had to cut its staff by 18 percent. Last week, FOTF had to do another round of cuts, again citing a drop in donations (though it claims the lower funding is a result of tough economic times). On the issue of gay rights, Focus on the Family CEO Jim Daly said:

“We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage,” Daly said in the interview. “I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age—demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that.”

It's important to note that the Religious Right is still exceptionally powerful, as evidenced by the prominent role right-wing Christianity still plays in American politics. It is a powerful movement with lots of followers, smart PR and tons of organizational muscle. But as Sarah Seltzer pointed out, "The Christian Right is far from dead, but it's good to see one of its biggest wedge issues losing its power to wedge."

5. Getting married by friends

On a lighter note, it looks like increasing numbers of Americans are looking to jettison religion out of their marriages as well. The Washington Post reported last week that more Americans are choosing wedding ceremonies without the trappings of religion, including the clergy. Reporter Michele Boorstein  finds a crew of college friends who officiate at each other's weddings:

Their decision to forgo the more traditional route is a slightly extreme example of a once-quirky trend that is becoming more mainstream. A study last year by  TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com showed that 31 percent of their users who married in 2010 used a family member or friend as the officiant, up from 29 percent in 2009, the first year of the survey.

Boorstein points out this trend is likely the result of young people's drift away from traditional expressions of religious faith.

Tana Ganeva is an AlterNet editor. Follow her on Twitter. You can email her at tanaalternet@gmail.com.

 
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