Why Christianity is collapsing

By James A. Haught | 29 September 2022
Freethought Now

(Image by Monika Neumann from Pixabay)

We are living through a historic culture change that many of us oldsters weren’t sure would ever happen. Christianity is collapsing in Western democracies with astounding speed. The long-awaited Secular Age is rolling like a juggernaut. Freethought efforts finally are winning the day.

Christianity remains strong in tropical places, where millions “speak in tongues” and exhibit holy-roller behavior. But it is disintegrating in America, Europe, Canada and Australia. Soon, Christians will be a minority in the West. Hurrah. Intelligent scientific thinking now dominates — not supernatural fairy tales.

Why did this great transformation arrive in our lifetime? Many explanations have been offered.

Several sociologists contend that Western life has improved so much — with prosperity, health care, job security, few wars, modern comforts, good pensions and better education — that people no longer need to hope for rewards after death. When couples stop going to church, their children grow up without being indoctrinated.

Some scholars like Mary Eberstadt, author of How the West Really Lost God, suggest that the sexual revolution curtailed much of the patriarchal family, leaving fewer traditional households to fill church pews. Others, such as computer scientist Allen Downey, say the rise of the internet, with its great power to spread skeptic messages, has helped fuel the decline.Yet others have reasoned that never-ending sex scandals involving priests and ministers have taken their toll. And it is frequently observed that the intense involvement of white evangelicals in narrow-minded politics has alienated millions of moderate young Americans.

I want to add another explanation: I think rising intelligence and growing scientific knowledge have enabled millions to see that supernatural gods, devils, heavens, hells, prophecies, miracles, etc., are just fantasies — they don’t actually exist. Magical church tenets are fiction — complete lies.

For instance, each human personality — all 8 billion of us — is created by our huge brain, the most complex object in the universe. When the brain dies, along with the body, it’s unlikely that the psyche can come out of the corpse and travel to a hereafter. The personality simply dies with the brain. So, church promises of heaven are vaporous.

Undoubtedly, all these factors pushed the profound transition we are watching. It’s mostly a phenomenon of young adults. As old churchgoers die off, they are followed by young generations who say their religion is “none.”

Christianity, which shaped our world for millennia — causing crusades, inquisitions, witch hunts, Catholic-Protestant wars, pogroms against Jews and Anabaptists, burning of “heretics,” blasphemy trials and the like — is quickly retreating before our eyes.

Sixty years ago, philosopher-historian Will Durant wrote in The Age of Reason Begins:

“Is Christianity dying? Is the religion that gave morals, courage and art to Western civilization suffering slow decay though the spread of knowledge, the widening of astronomic, geographical and historical horizons, the realization of evil in history and the soul, the decline of faith in an afterlife and of trust in the benevolent guidance of the world? If this is so, it is the basic event of modern times.”

Durant’s prophecy seems to be coming true at last.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

James A. HaughtJames A. Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia’s The Charleston Gazette-Mail and a senior editor of the Free Inquiry magazine. He is also the author of numerous books and articles; his most recent book is Religion is Dying: Soaring Secularism in America and the West (Gustav Broukal Press, 2010). Haught has won 21 national newswriting awards and thirty of his columns have been distributed by national syndicates. He is in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Contemporary Authors, and 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century. His website is haught.net.

Growing number of Americans are leaving organized religion

Is religion dying in America? | Rush Hour Roundtable

Why Christianity is in Decline in the West

Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook


  1. "Intelligent scientific thinking now dominates". Oh, were it only so. Have you been reading the news lately? There is still a massive amount of popular support for Donald Trump, arguably the worst president of all time, to date. And the Supreme Court, and the various state legislatures all working to set the clock back decades… All while the rich get richer, especially the oil companies, and it seems like they are all labouring mightily to destroy the ecosystem, that keeps us all alive.

  2. Can the decline of Christianity come any faster please? As a Muslim, I have seen this group that harassed Muslims over ‘sharia law’ conspiracies and supported Muslim bans now demand everyone adopt Christian law and that they’re discriminated against. They also oppose environmental laws, go nuts against drag shows, are against vaccines and mandates, destroy sensible guns laws assuring mass shootings, are destroying free speech and sensible curriculums.
    Let’s hope Christianity dies off fast do that the rest of us can live.

  3. Religions are human constructs and nothing more. As humanity progresses, and as information reaches more of the global population, humanity is understanding this point. The truth of reality is pervading our awareness. And this is a good thing. Religion is the single most cause of hardship this earth has known.

  4. What scientific evidence is there for our “huge brain, the most complex object in the universe” being the source of the creation of our personalities?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here