USA TODAY reports that "Despite population growth and immigration adding nearly 50 million more adults, almost all denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS data was released in 1990. The 2008 results, released today, April 25th, are based on 54,000 interviews with a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5%."

On their interactive map, data that was collected over 18 years from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) is available state by state. I will use Texas because that‘s where I presently reside.

The map is broken down by Catholic, other Christians, other religion, and no religion, and is based on changes in percentage of the population. In Texas, for example, the Catholic faith has risen 8%, while "Other Christian" has fallen 20%.

In Texas also, "Other Religions" have remained unchanged, while "No Religion" has increased 8%.

Overall, Christianity has had a net decrease of 12% in Texas, while those who are unaffiliated with organized religion has increased 8%. Definitely an amazing trend, considering the statistics include a large growth in population.

In the Catholic category, Texas leads the nation in the percentage change of new Catholics (+9%), followed by California (+8%), Arizona (+5%), South Carolina (+4%), and Mississippi (+4%).

In the "Other Christian" category, Texas again leads the nation, but in decline (-20%) followed by Vermont (-18%), Iowa (-15%), Nevada (-15%), and South Carolina (-15%). "Other Christian" gained ground only in Louisiana (+8), and Rhode Island (+2). All other states lost ground other than Montana and Connecticut which registered no change.

The "Other religions" category showed an increase in Connecticut (+4), Montana (+3), Washington State (+3) and Iowa (+3). "Other Religions" lost ground in Wyoming (-8), New Hampshire (-2), New York (-2) , and Massachusetts (-1).

The "No religion" category increased in Vermont (+21%), New Hampshire (+20%), Delaware (+16%), and Maine (+14%). There was not one single state that "No Religion" decreased in - none!

The above information, I believe, reflects a drastically changing panorama for America. Similar to European trends, religion is losing its impact on the population. With the exception of the spike in Catholicism which might be explained by immigrants (legal and otherwise) coming in from Mexico, there seems to be a disenchantment with organized religion.

Religion at one time was a sincere inquiry into our souls. A quest for truth that provided us with self exploration and personal results that we could see with our own eyes and believe in because we actually experienced a change in values.

But today's religion is fast food. We sit there like couch potatoes as our heads are filled with . . . whatever. We are spectators, no longer searchers of truth. The "Truth" is now spoon fed to us and we believe it. And repeat it like parrots. But whose truth is it? It's not something that we discovered for ourselves by inquiring into life. It's just hearsay.

So our organized religions have come down to whatever we want them to be. They change like the wind in order to keep their flocks happy and donating. Even politics are not out of bounds because whatever packs ‘em in is okay now. A huge social affair. The ends justify the means.

The internal spiritual search has ended. We know it all now, just ask anyone who has read their Holy Book, whatever it is, and they know it all. They can quote you a solution to any problem. No more questions for them, no more inquiry; they have found their salvation. Or they think they have.

But the problem is, Holy Books are not the experience, they don't even point to the spiritual experience or how to find it for yourself, they only say that you should obey. . .and believe. And that is not good enough for people today, apparently, based on the surveys.

What people are looking for today is not someone else's answers, but their own discoveries. And they aren't interested in blind belief or calling oneself a religious person yet hating anyone who believes other than you do. People see this, and regardless of what one says, actions speak volumes. And people don't want to get involved with this kind of hypocrisy.

They would rather do it themselves.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at: and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:

His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.