Why is Organized Religion Losing to Buddhism and Stoicism?
In 2020, Americans' membership in houses of worship dropped below 50% for the first time in Gallup's eight-decade polling of organized religion. 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque, down from 70% in 1999.
Depending upon which survey you believe, 1-10% of Americans now consider themselves Buddhists, and that number is growing quickly. Similarly, a rising number of younger people—led by philosopher/author Ryan Holiday and others—are flocking to Stoicism. So, what's the appeal of these two ways of being and living?
First, they're not religions dominated by dogma or an institution. In this era of DIY Spirituality, people are attracted to philosophies that feel aligned with how they would like to live their lives. Buddhism and Stoicism share a variety of viewpoints:
1. They both were founded by leaders (Buddha and Zeno) who saw the reality and even the transformational value of suffering (they're not alone amongst religions in this belief).
2. They're built on curiosity and inquiry, a reverence for the power of the mind. They're not looking for people to follow their teachings blindly.
3. Self-discovery is at the core of their belief system.
4. They eschew material wealth and, in their purest form, move toward asceticism. They also practice non-attachment.
5. They value the present moment more than anything else.
Why do you think more people are moving toward Buddhism and Stoicism?