Putnam and Campbell also fail to acknowledge technology's role in creating a less pious America. Increasing use of consumer digital electronics is soaking up so much of young people's time and interest that they are decoupling from the social organizations that used to fill a person's life before TV and computers. Of course, organized religion is just the sort of social "club" that is vulnerable to this potent side effect of technology. The secularizing effect of digital technology is so potent that it threatens to overwhelm the reproductive superiority of conservative believers.
That a grand combination of secure prosperity, mass consumerism and advanced technology is deeply eroding Western faith means that there is not much that organized religion can do to stem, much less reverse, the losses. Nor is there any reason to think that a less politically strident form of Christianity will do any better than it already is. What is ironic is that the Republican political alliance of the religious right with corporate interests has been a deal with the capitalist devil, which has been laughing its way to the bank as religion fades in the West.
Gregory Paul is a scientist and author who has written extensively on the decline of religion in the West.