For years now, pollsters and demographers have been chronicling the decline of religion in America. And it’s not just religious affiliation that’s declining. Along with lower rates of church attendance, religious weddings and religious activities in the household are also waning. By every measure, America is becoming a less religious country, with huge implications for our political and cultural life.
But the story of the decline of religion in America is incomplete. What has gone less noticed, and less studied, is the rise of ersatz religions in America—secular substitutes for traditional forms of faith. The fastest-growing of these pseudo-religions occupy either end of the political spectrum, and are themselves explicitly political. They are also dangerous cults with almost no redeeming qualities, and if left unchecked will inspire their adherents to commit violence. In some cases, they already have.