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If it seems the world is becoming less religious, blame the Internet

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Tim Wang-CC

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 01/19/18

Seriously. A studyfinds it is so:

Contrary to what you might assume after hate-browsing Facebook, it seems the internet may have actually made people less dogmatic about religion. A recent study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion has found evidence that the more we use the internet, the less likely we are to have a specific religious affiliation or to believe in and practice one religion exclusively. Paul McClure, a doctoral student in sociology at Texas’ Baylor University, decided to take a broad look at how the internet has influenced our religious proclivities. He was inspired, in part, by previous research that suggested the rise of the internet since the 1990s has contributed to an increase of people becoming religiously unaffiliated (a group otherwise known as “Nones,” which includes, but isn’t limited to, atheists and agnostics). He analyzed data from an ongoing project that’s been managed by his university since 2005, the Baylor Religion Survey. He specifically relied on the 2010 version of the nationally representative survey, conducted by the Gallup Organization, which was the first to feature questions about people’s use of the internet as well as how they felt about religion.
  He found that a person’s greater internet use, even after accounting for factors like age, education, and political affiliation, was correlated with a higher likelihood they would endorse statements like, “All of the religions in the world are equally true,” and “All around the world, no matter what religion they call themselves, people worship the same God.” Being younger, identifying as a Democrat, and living in a larger city was also associated with being less religiously exclusive.
“I [also] found that increases in Internet use were associated with decreases in religious affiliation of any kind,” McClure told me in an email. “Of course, one can refuse to be affiliated with religion and still believe in God or a higher power of some sort, but there is obviously a lot of overlap between non-affiliation and atheism.”

Read on.

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