Essay:The decline of the American church
WORK IN PROGRESS
With the abundance of web traffic generated by the religious right, the insanity promulgated by Fox News and the Tea Party, and a 2012 election that appears to be heavily split along religious lines it would be reasonable to assume that church-going in the USA is growing, and the "War on Reason" is being lost to the fundamentalists.
Consequently I was very surprised to learn that it appears the exact opposite is occurring - Church attendance in the United States has been on a continuous downhill slide for the past 60 years. Getting exact numbers will always be a challenge, due to the agendas of all of the various sources, however all sources agree that the overall trend is backwards. It's not all good news however (if Gallup is to be believed), as there may have been a slight hiccup in the years 2008-2010 with a fractional increase. Furthermore, it is clear that since 1990 there has been a huge increase in the number of people who define themselves as being "irreligious", particularly among the young.
 The 60 year trend
I reviewed several different sources, including "objective" sources such a Gallup, and "potentially biased" sources such as the Barna Group and the American Church Project.