Atlantic magazine published an article by Derek Thompson on why the United States is losing its religious identity.
The article said that the exceptional characteristic that distinguished America from other countries is so dubious that the phrase has recently been used purely for irony.
The American exception
But when it comes to religion, Americans are an exception. There is no rich nation whose people pray as Americans do. There is no country whose citizens continue to pray as wealthy as the United States.
America's unique combination of wealth and worship has puzzled international observers and overturned the "greatest world theories" that lay secularists in the country, Derek Thompson said.
In the late 19th century, a group of famous philosophers - such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud - declared "the death of God" and that atheism would follow scientific discoveries and modernism in the West as smoke followed fire.
The United States is known for its religious pluralism.There are the major Christian communities (73.7%) made up of Anglicans, Catholics and Protestants, as well as Eastern and Orthodox Jews and Muslims, and there are renegades, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, or the LDS movement.
The "pious" Americans have secured the idea of secularism. Nine-tenths of Americans said in the last century that they believed in the existence of God, belonged to an organized religion, and the vast majority said they were Christians. This figure remained steady during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
But the historic cord that linked American identity to faith and faith was cut off in the early 1990s. The phenomenon of non-religious affiliation began to rise and continued to rise steadily, rates of secularization increased while the proportion of religious people.
By the dawn of the 21st century, the number of Americans who did not belong to any established religion doubled. By the third decade of this century, the number of atheists, amateur and agnostic spiritists who believe that God's existence is inaccessible is tripling.
According to a 2007 study, 78.4 percent of US adults said they were Christians, still high compared to Canada and Europe, whose 2005 Eurobarometer survey showed that only 52 percent of EU citizens "believe in God."
The Rise of Atheism
But the rise of non-Americans in America seems to be a rare historical moment that cannot be regarded as slow-moving, subtle, or successive, and may even be described as exceptional, as the Atlantic article put it.
The question remains: What happened in the 1990s? Christian Smith, a professor of sociology and religion at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic research institution in Indiana, attributed the trend of non-religiosity in America to the product of three historical events: the Republican Party's connection to the Christian right, the end of the Cold War and the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Religion and Politics
The 1970s were marked by the rise of the religious right in the United States, where Christians were politically active because of concern about the spread of secular culture in the country.
The marriage of the religious and political right produced leaders such as President Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and resulted in victories for the current at the state and national levels. But that has plagued Liberal Democrats, especially those with little association with the church.
Christian Smith believes that young liberals and Christians with broad religious affiliation may have turned their faces on the Christian right in the early 1990s, after witnessing for a decade for his active role in conservative politics.
Perhaps some have argued that it is not patriotic to reveal its potential for the idea of a God with the United States preoccupied with geopolitical confrontations with an evil empire that does not believe in God, in reference to the then Soviet Union.
In 1991, the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union disintegrated and atheism analyzed its association with the arch-foe of the United States.
A recent study showed that 13% of Americans consider themselves "ex-Catholics" and many have given up belonging to any organized religion.
Another organization replaced the Soviet Union as an enemy of America, but it was not a state that did not believe in God, on the contrary. The new enemy was a non-state religious movement that adopted what the author called "Islamic terrorism."
Al Qaeda and terrorism
He gave evidence of Islamic terrorism, as he calls it, in a series of bombing and bombing attempts by groups such as al-Qaeda that culminated in the September 11 attacks on the cities of New York and Washington.
It would be too simplistic, according to sociologist Christian Smith, to suggest that the fall of the World Trade Center towers in New York then prompted millions to abandon the church.
Over time, however, al-Qaida has become a pretext for atheists to justify their claim that all religions are inherently destructive.
In his article, Derek Thompson goes on to emphasize that in the past three decades religion has lost its aura of holiness, not because science has pushed the idea of God out of the public mind, but because politics has done so. Other social forces that do not pay much attention to political or partisan geography have played a major role in the rise of non-believers.
Weak trust in the institution
The Church is only one of many institutions - banks, Congress and the police - that have lost public confidence in an era characterized by the failure of elites. The scandals that hit the Catholic Church have accelerated the loss of moral standing.
A Pew Research Center study showed that 13 percent of Americans consider themselves "ex-Catholics" and many have given up belonging to any organized religion, a term referring to religion as a social institution.
The higher the number of non-religious, the more American society accepted them so that it was easier for them to meet, marry and raise children away from any real religious affiliation.
But the most important factor is the dramatic changes in American society. The United States Marriage Foundation has been hit hard. Divorce rates rose from the 1970s to the 1990s, coinciding with low marriage rates in the 1980s.
Finally, the phenomenon of "late puberty" may be another hidden factor that has exacerbated it. Many Americans, especially university graduates in large metropolitan cities, postpone marriage and pregnancy until they reach the age of 30 in favor of employment and the enjoyment of youth and bachelorhood.
Thompson says the rise in the number of non-Muslims in America shows no signs of abating.