Sociology Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

In defining families, discuss the current pattern of religion in America, and evaluate the rising trend towards secularism from a sociological perspective.

The current pattern of religion in relation to the family in America shows an increasing number of adults raised in non-religious families. This in turn influences their declining adherence to organized religion. Overall, this trend corresponds to sociological theories of secularization. However, the proportion of intensely devout believers and the overall continued assertion of belief in God are also significant American trends that run counter to the argument of continuously increasing secularization.

Expert Answers info

Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write5,741 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In the United States over the last two decades, the pattern of religious practice as it relates to the family shows a correlation between adult beliefs and behaviors and the religiosity of the family in which they were raised. Those whose families were not active in church attendance or other formal religious practices are more less likely to participate in such practices themselves. Secularization continues to be an important trajectory in modern American society, which is consistent with traditional sociological theory. The extent to which this is countered by growing trends in specific areas of religion, such as membership in faiths other than Christianity, is subject to debate.

The rise of secularism as an important social trend has been noted in sociology for more than a century. This position is closely associated with Max Weber, especially his 1920 essay about the declining importance and concomitant marginalization of religion in the modern world. In the United States in the 1960s, a similar position was advanced by Talcott Parsons. He viewed pluralism as an influence on diffusing Christian values and claimed that religion was retreating from public prominence into the private sphere.

There is considerable debate about the relationship between religiousness and secularism in twenty-first-century America. Many observers claim that the United States is increasingly a secular society, citing such factors as declining church attendance. In contrast, results from polls and surveys of the American religious landscape show that many Americans continue to assert belief in God and have strong religious convictions, including adherence to faiths other than Christianity.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial