"Five signs that, despite the GOP's efforts, religion's impact on U.S. politics will soon decline
1. American religious belief is becoming more fractured
2. Non-belief — and acceptance of non-belief — on the rise
Last month was the first time atheists were knocked from the top of America’s most hated list, an honor that now belongs to the Tea Party. While this development may have more to do with the fact that the mainstream media’s love affair with the Tea Party is not shared by most Americans, it also dovetails with increased visibility and acceptance of atheism.
3. Growing numbers of young people who do not identify as religious
As recently as 1990, all but 7 percent of Americans claimed a religious affiliation, a figure that had held constant for decades. Today, 17 percent of Americans say they have no religion, and these new “nones” are very heavily concentrated among Americans who have come of age since 1990. Between 25 percent and 30 percent of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation — roughly four times higher than in any previous generation.
4. Hate group that exploited religion to bash gays hemorrhaging funds
In 2008, Focus on the Family had to cut its staff by 18 percent. Last week, FOTF had to do another round of cuts, again citing a drop in donations (though it claims the lower funding is a result of tough economic times).
5. Getting married by friends
A study last year by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com showed that 31 percent of their users who married in 2010 used a family member or friend as the officiant, up from 29 percent in 2009, the first year of the survey."
Salon Mag/Alternet Sep 29, 2011