We live in tough times for important institutions. Service clubs that were once the backbone of small-town life are seeing their membership dwindle.

Political parties lose influence every election cycle, as voters split tickets with impunity. Newspapers that once had a monopoly on disseminating information now compete with every teenager with a smart phone.

It’s no surprise that religious institutions are also losing their hold on the formerly faithful. Membership in mainline churches is plummeting, especially in Maine, which has the distinction of being the least religious state in the union.

Only 27.6 percent of Mainers say they belong to a religious denomination, down from 36.4 percent 10 years ago. Those numbers are in stark contrast to Utah, where 79 percent of residents are religiously affiliated, or Alabama where 62.9 percent are.

Mainers must be finding community and spiritual support outside the houses of worship that have shaped our communities for two centuries. That trend will make this a tough time for these institutions as well.