Americans, and younger adults in particular, are also abandoning social religion. I use the term “social religion” because there are reasons to believe that the religious minds of people of all ages remain active, searching for some form of transcendent meaning. Most still believe in God or a universal spirit, describe themselves as spiritual, are captivated by the supernatural, and long to be part of something larger and more enduring than the mortal self. However, more than ever they are disinclined to identify with a traditional faith, belong to a church, or attend religious services. Young adults are consuming more New Age spirituality and paranormal-related media and products, but these are often solitary or superficially social behaviors that do not promote deep or lasting relationships and community bonds.
Though it may be tempting, it would be a mistake for liberals to see these trends as politically favoring them or helping the nation. A decline of principled conservatism doesn’t mean we will see a rise of liberalism or the diminishing of tribal politics. This brings us back to the ascension of Trump and the potential election of Roy Moore. The issue is more qualitative than quantitative. Low-quality conservative candidates won’t stop Republicans from tactically signaling their conservatism and finding ways to win elections. Regardless of the state of the party, people will probably continue to vote for their Republican tribe for a number of reasons. But will they personally live up to and favor political candidates who live up to conservative values? Winning elections is not the same as using conservative principles to address pressing social and economic challenges.