U.S. church membership plummets

Less than half of Americans are in a church, according to Gallup, the lowest in the history of its survey. A membership rate around 70% held steady from 1940 to 2000, with more granular polls in the 1990s suggesting a little back-and-forth. By the late 2000s, it was bouncing off the high fifties. By the late 2010s, it was waning fast. The latest total, 47%, shows it sinking like a rock.

The trend coincides with growing numbers of Americans who don't express a religious preference—which has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 21% in the last three years—as well as a drop in the number of religious Americans formally belonging to a church, which has fallen 13 points over the past 20 years to 60%.

The conservative Christian grip on U.S. courts and the GOP is a symptom of decline, an effort to precipitate an annihilating culture war before the possibility of victory slips away. Trump was a dangerous accelerant: young people, minorities, and Christians uninterested in being part of a partisan-political death cult are scrambling for the exits faster than ever before.

A challenge for the non-religious is understanding that "hypocrisy" is irrelevant to all this and that evangelicals laugh when that is brought up, the way partners in personal injury law firms do when people call them "ambulance chasers". It tells them that you are interested in the appearances of things, and that they are free to work on the substance.