In one of the most ambiguous poll questions ever, Gallup has asked Americans to once again act as a tenuous bellwether for the impending death of religion.
In a May survey, more than 1,000 people were asked to pick between two vague sense impressions of faith: "Do you believe that religion can answer all of today's problems, or that religion is largely old fashioned and out of date?
She wanted me to know it was a badge of honor for her. It’s always seemed a decent guess that we let political affiliations influence our attraction to a potential valentine. A recent study demonstrates that having similar political beliefs makes us more likely to be interested in a person when we view his or her online dating profile.
When the poll says "all of today's problems," is it referring to political gridlock? The underlying assumption is that secularization theorists are at least somewhat correct: Religion is somehow "old" or pre-modern or even anti-modern, whereas secular life is "new" or fully modern or post-modern.
Even though the poll is ostensibly asking respondents to say whether they think this is right, the premise of secularization theory is baked into the way they asked the question.
That's why it's framed in terms of "new" and "old"—or, in other words, relevant and irrelevant.
But, of course, Gallup asked the question (and, implausibly, has apparently been asking the same bad question since the 1950s), and if there's a poll question, so shall there be a graph: What we're meant to take from that graph, presumably, is that doubts about religion—and, along with it, secularization—are on an undeniably upward trend.