This November, the third Givers, Doers, & Thinkers conference will address the question: How will declining religious affiliation change civil society in the years to come?
Over the past three decades, a staggering number of Americans have left Christianity and now identify as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” These people are often identified collectively as the “nones.” The Pew Research Center has tracked these data over years, and projections indicate that “nones” will constitute a majority of the American population by 2070 if current trends continue. Currently, three in ten U.S. adults are religiously unaffiliated, and self-identified Christians made up 63% of the U.S. population in 2021, down from 75% a decade prior.
These trends prompt many to ask, regardless of their own adherence to faith: how will declining religious affiliation change civil society in the years to come? When we consider civil society to be composed of the non-governmental associations that bind our communities together, the consequences could be catastrophic. Many of the nonprofit organizations that provide charitable services and relief to those in need are religious in nature, but do not only minister to members of their own flocks.
Consider the work done by Catholic Charities when assisting with immigration and refugee services or providing nutrition to food-insecure children and families. Recall the constant service performed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in times of natural disasters such as hurricanes. These are just two examples of charitable acts carried out by people of faith. This is not to say that secular charities and civic associations cannot and do not add tremendous value to American civil society. That aside, the reality is, a decline in religiously affiliated Americans and associations could leave a void in how our society operates at the most basic level.
To address this issue, the Center for Civil Society will host its third annual Givers, Doers, & Thinkers conference this November 7th & 8th in Scottsdale, Arizona. Titled "Rise of the Nones: How Declining Religious Affiliation Is Changing Civil Society," this conference will include panel discussions on religious liberty and the courts, the future of religious education, how religious ministries are responding to declining church attendance, and how philanthropists are thinking about religious demographic trends. Our conference will also feature a fireside chat with Shelby Steele and a keynote address by Mary Eberstadt. We hope you will join us for this enlivening investigation of the ramifications of decreasing religiosity for American civil society.
Register here to join us in Scottsdale, AZ, this November 7–8 for the third Givers, Doers, & Thinkers conference, covering "The Rise of the Nones: How Declining Religious Affiliation Is Changing Civil Society."