So what are you?

The newest survey on Americans' religious preferences is out. Guess what? People who have no organized religion are still a growing proportion, and the percent of atheist/agnostic is up to 12%, 34% in Vermont. Catholics are shifting from the Northeast to the Southwest, probably because of immigration in the Southwest more than anything going on in the Northeast. ABC has a summary of the findings, but please ignore their asinine 'informal survey on Twitter.'

At the very least, the country is becoming much more pluralistic when it comes to religion, and that is a good thing. When a dominating majority of Americans were one flavor of Christian or another, everyone assumed everyone was. Now, it's harder to tell. People have to ask: what are you?

But even that question sounds a bit creaky and outdated. One phenomenon that has grown is Americans changing their religious affiliation. What are you implies that your religious ID is permanent and fixed. What do you believe? Or What do you call yourself? May be more apt.

And finally, lets deal with the 'nones,' the 'seculars,' the atheist/agnostic/unsure catchall. Atheist is the new gay, as evidenced by the polling data that it has overtaken race as the thing parents don't want to find in their children's significant other. As gay marriage is approved by a new state every other week, atheism has become the new gay. But it may not last very long in that spot.

Somehow, in a hurry, the U.S. is joining Western Europe as a more open, tolerant, polyglot society. It seems to be driven by 'the young people' which our press subtly implies is anyone under age 45.

While waiting for the bus recently, I was talking with a friendly middle-aged, self-identified Jewish woman who is reading Chris Hitchens' book God is not Great. She found the book interesting, and not threatening to her beliefs. I haven't read the book, but read reviews and debates about it, and was able to chat about it a bit. The interesting part is she never asked me: so what are you? That is some real progress.

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