BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA, Washington Post Writers Group
Early 20th-century American author Wallace Wattles was fond of saying that “the exercise of gratitude will never fail to strengthen your faith and renew your purpose.”
Just because some people thought the man who wrote the 1910 self-help book “The Science of Getting Rich” was something of a spiritual charlatan doesn’t mean that his take on giving thanks is any less true or relevant today.
However, at a time when more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public) plus nearly 33 million others say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent of the population), Wattles’ view of gratitude begs the question: Faith in what?
The well-documented rise of the “nones” -- who report not identifying with a particular religion -- is changing our social lives in ways we haven’t yet begun to fully quantify, much less understand.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, about half of Americans say the growing number of “people who are not religious” is bad for our society. About the same number say it’s either a good trend or doesn’t make much difference.