The Rise of the Irreligious

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One hears from a lot of secular people worries that the country is plunging over the edge into theocracy. At the same time, the press often seems to feel that the country is experiencing a massive religious revival that it needs to cover by hiring new "religion" correspondents. The truth, as shown in the above chart based on National Election Survey data, is more like the reverse -- more people than ever say "other" or "none" when asked about their religious beliefs.

It's this, rather than an intensification in fervor, that's made it possible to mobilize conservative Christianity for political purposes. Back in 1960 there were so few avowedly irreligious people out there that trying to rally opposition to the perils of secularism was a non-starter.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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