It is seen as a strength of religion that it keeps communities together. It is assumed, then, that the decline in community cohesion across many cities and suburbs is due to the decline in religion. This is not an argument in defence of the truth of religion, but of the usefulness of religion. I think the argument is unfounded.
I think the decline in community is due to the decline in true difficulty. Difficult times mean looking for help, and looking for help means creating and developing a tribe. A strong sense of in-tribalism is basically identical to the sense of community. The declining need to ask for help has done away with that.
Another part of this is our lack of time. Approximately 8 hours of our day is taken up with work, which doesn’t realistically leave us with enough time to rally together a small tribe and build an extension to our house, so we outsource it with the commodification of people (“human resources”). I’m not saying this is a bad thing; this underpins economics and our current model of resource allocation. However, it does dissipate the need to a tribe. Strife and difficulty are faced at work. This is a transient tribe, but it is where people would claim most of their friends are. People club together as friends at work, and that tribe evaporates at 5pm and only part-reforms when they are invited and can find the time to travel. They are an inconvenient tribe after hours.
I speculate that the removal of difficulty from our lives has encouraged our independence and evaporated our need for community in a full-time way. Having distanced ourselves from community, we are now able to see that religion was never an intrinsic part of that. Religion hijacked the idea of community in times of real difficulty. SPECULATION.
This is my plausible speculation, and I’d love some feedback on the idea.
NB: there is a habit quite a few people have to announce “FACT” at the end of utterances as if to make their utterance more believable. My friends (and I hope yours too) have started to satirise that by announcing “FACT” at the end of clearly nonsense statements. However, in the name of transparency (and comedy) I have begun announcing “FACT”, “OPINION”, “FACTOID” and “SPECULATION” sincerely after some utterances. FACT.