A Religious Revival Soon – OpEd


Almost 50,000 Americans killed themselves in 2022, up by 2.6 percent from the year before. The Harvard School of Public Health reported in 2020 that women who attend weekly religious services are 68 percent less likely to die from the “deaths of despair”—suicide, drug overdose and alcohol poisoning—than others; men are 33 percent less likely. Men are nearly 50 percent of the population but makeup almost 80 percent of suicides: the male suicide rate is four times higher than the rate among females. The major increase in religionless Americans was not good for the American people.

Ryan Burge is an expert in analysis of religious developments in the U.S. He recently examined the 2023 Cooperative Election Study with its 25,400 respondents and found that the percentage of non-religious Americans has stopped rising. In 2008, the percentage of Americans who were non-religious in the Cooperative Election Study was 21%. Five years later, it had increased nine points to 30%. But between 2013 and 2018, the nones only rose from 30% to 32%. Just two points in five years. 

Then, there was a significant bump in 2019 to 35%. But the share of the non-religious in the last four years was flat:  2020: 34% 2021: 36% 2022: 35% and 2023: 36%.  And for the youngest group Generation Z the share who were nones in 2020 was 45%. It rose three points to 48% in 2022. Then, it dropped six points to 42% in 2023.

Also, after seeing a slow and steady rise from 28% in 2020 to 31% in 2022 – the Pew poll data from 2023 indicates that the share of nones in the general population dropped to 28% or back to the levels that they recorded in 2020. These two surveys point to the same conclusion: The rise of the nones may be largely over now.

This is good news; although many people will not be happy that both Jews and Muslims will also benefit from a religious revival in America. 

According to a 2008 Pew survey, one in five Christians in America believe that non-Christian faiths cannot lead one to salvation. That number soared to 60 percent for white Evangelical Protestants who attend church once a week. But a PRRI study reports that white evangelicals (who are often negative about the Qur’an) have declined from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent in 2020.

This is especially important for America’s Islamic and Jewish leaders because the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an are strong proponents of Religious Diversity: “Indeed, the believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does good will have their reward with their Lord. And there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.” (Quran 2:62)

And a survey of over 35,000 Americans in 2008 found that most Americans agree with the statement: many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life. Among those affiliated with some  religious tradition, seven-in-ten say many religions can lead to eternal life. 

This view is shared by a majority of adherents in nearly all religious traditions, including 82% of Jews, 79% of Catholics, 57% of Evangelical Protestants and 56% of Muslims. (From the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2008, Pew Research Center.)

Thus, in 21st century United States; most Christians, Jews, and Muslims have rejected the ‘only one truth’ religious mind set and believe in the Qur’an’s religious pluralism teachings: “For every one of you did We appoint a law and a way. If Allah had wanted, He could have made you one people, but (He didn’t) that He might test you in what He gave you. Therefore compete with one another to hasten to do virtuous deeds; for all return to Allah (for judgement), so He will let you know [about] that in which you differed.” [5:48]

It is very important to understand that ‘religious pluralism is the will of God’ is different from religious, moral or cultural relativism. Relativism teaches that all values and standards are subjective, and therefore there is no higher spiritual authority available for setting ethical standards or making moral judgments. Thus, issues of justice, truth or human rights are, like beauty, just in the eye of the beholder. 

Most people, especially those who believe that One God created all of us, refuse to believe that ethics and human rights are simply only a matter of taste. Religious pluralism as the will of God is the opposite of cultural psychological or philosophical relativism. 

The fundamental idea supporting religious pluralism is that religious people need to embrace humility in all areas of religion. All religions have always taught a traditional anti self-centered personal egoism type of humility. 

Religious pluralism also opposes a religious, philosophical, and self righteous intellectual egoism that promotes a tendency to turn our legitimate love for our own prophet and Divine revelation into universal truths that we fully understand and know how to apply. 

Religious pluralism teaches that finite humans, even the most intelligent and pious of them, can not fully understand everything the way the infinite One does. 

This is true, for every human being, even for God’s  messengers themselves. When prophet Moses, “who God spoke with, face to face, as a person speaks with a friend” (Exodus 33:11) asks to see God face to face, he is told, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see My face and live.” (33:20)  

Similarly, in the Qur’an prophet Jesus admits to God, “You know everything that is within myself, whereas I do not know what is within Yourself”. (5:116) 

And when Prophet Jesus was asked, in private, by his disciples, “What will be the sign for your coming (back) and the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus warns his disciples about upheavals and false Messiahs that will come. Then Jesus concluded by saying, “But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the son: only the Father”. (24:36) 

A similar statement was made by Prophet Muhammad when he was asked, “Tell me about the Hour”. He said: “The one questioned about it knows no better than the questioner.” (Muslim book 1 Hadith 1&4) 

God taught the general principle of epistemological humility through his Prophet who taught his followers “I am no novelty among the messengers. I do not know what will be done to me, or to you.” (Qur’an 46:9) In truth, the only universal truth should be the humility to admit: “Only God knows.” 

As Prophet Muhammad said: “Don’t give me superiority over Moses, for people will fall unconscious on the Day of Resurrection. I will be the first to regain consciousness, and behold! Moses will be there holding the side of Allah’s Throne. I will not know whether Moses was among those people who became unconscious and then has regained consciousness before me, or was among those exempted by Allah from falling unconscious.” (Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, #524)

As God declares through Prophet Zechariah: “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.” (Zachariah 8:16-7)

As Prophet Micah makes it clear, what God wants is not one religious belief or ritual but your whole heart and commitment. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what the Lord requires of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

And as Prophet Isaiah states: “Learn to do right; seek justice, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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