One common recent meme articulated by atheists is the US is becoming more secular while Christianity is fading. There are various polls offered to that effect, and while I don’t disagree that more people are willing identify as atheists, I am not sure that this particularly indicative of the fact Christianity is fading in its influence in the US.
I think better explanation of what is happening is polarization; rather than there being a large middle ground of where people fall on matters of faith, they are being pushed to take sides in what has become a much more contentious discussion about the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. Part of this has to do with the success of more conservative churches and the fading of mainline religious institutions. Part of this has to do with the openness and combativeness of the New Atheists who have no toleration for those they call accommodationists, or those who allow for the notion that religious ideas inhabit a different sphere of thought than science does.
A recent Gallop poll gives some weight to that interpretation. Asking respondents whether they believe human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life but God guided this process, human beings have evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life but God had no part in this process or whether God human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years, the survey found that 6% more people believed in the direct creation of humans than did just two years ago. This would seem to run counter to the notion that the US populace is becoming more ‘secular’ – particularly given the atheist position that God played no part in the development of humans dropped by a point. But the greatest drop was in what I would call the ‘middle’ position, the notion that God guided the development of humans over time. That notion dropped by an amount corresponding to the amount that the full blown creationist position increased. I think this is some indication that the middle ground is evaporating in the wrangling between Bible-believing Christians and the New Atheists.
While I don’t necessarily discount the idea that the U.S. is becoming more secular (the West certainly is to its growing detriment) and I think there are Christian principles that explain why this is so. But the current data suggest something else is going on, and that something else maybe a very refreshing distinction between the Christian and secular position that can’t be compromised away.