The Collapse of American Christianity

Discussion in 'Religion' started by JoeNation, May 12, 2015.

  1. JoeNation

    JoeNation Patron Saint of Idiots

    I guess the weight of hypocrisy finally caught up with it.

    Millennials leaving church in droves, study finds
    By Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor
    Updated 4:37 PM ET, Tue May 12, 2015

    Pew Research Center survey shows Christian percentage of population dropping to 70%
    More than one-third of millennials say they are unaffiliated with any faith, study finds
    Just 3% of the religious "nones" call themselves atheists, a small bump from 2007​

    (CNN) Christian life is a set of sacred traditions -- an unbroken circle, in the words of an old hymn -- connecting generations of Sunday school stories, youth ministry morals and family gatherings sanctified by prayer.

    In modern America, that circle may not be completely severed, but it is wobbly and severely bent, according to a new landmark study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

    Released Tuesday, the survey of 35,000 American adults shows the Christian percentage of the population dropping precipitously, to 70.6%. In 2007, the last time Pew conducted a similar survey, 78.4% of American adults called themselves Christian.

    In the meantime, almost every major branch of Christianity in the United States has lost a significant number of members, Pew found, mainly because millennials are leaving the fold. More than one-third of millennials now say they are unaffiliated with any faith, up 10 percentage points since 2007.

    The alacrity of their exodus surprises even seasoned experts.

    "We've known that the religiously unaffiliated has been growing for decades," said Greg Smith, Pew's associate director of religion research and the lead researcher on the new study. "But the pace at which they've continued to grow is really astounding."

    It's not just millennials leaving the church. Whether married or single, rich or poor, young or old, living in the West or the Bible Belt, almost every demographic group has seen a significant drop in people who call themselves Christians, Pew found.

    The drops have been deepest among two of the country's most formidable faith traditions: Catholics and mainline Protestants, so-called for their prominence in American history. At the same time, Hinduism and Islam, religions tied to recent immigrants, according to Pew, have made small but significant gains. While they have declined as a percentage of the overall population, the number of evangelicals has remained relatively steady in the past seven years.

    Because the U.S. census does not ask questions about religion, Pew's survey, called "America's Changing Religious Landscape," provides one of the most reliable sources of data about the country's religious demographics. Based in Washington, Pew calls itself a nonpartisan "fact tank" and regularly produces vast and detailed studies of religion.

    People who profess no faith affiliation -- often called "nones," as in "none of the above" -- now form nearly 23% percent of the country's adult population, according to the Pew study. That puts the unaffiliated nearly on par with evangelicals (25.4%) and ahead of Catholics (about 21%) and mainline Protestants (14.7%).

    Seven years ago, according to Pew's previous study, the unaffiliated formed about 16% of the population, mainline Protestants were about 18%, Catholics were about 24% and evangelicals 26.3%.

    The world's fastest-growing religion is ...:

    Looking at the long view, the generational spans are striking. Whereas 85% of the silent generation (born 1928-1945) call themselves Christians, just 56% of today's younger millennials (born 1990-1996) do the same, even though the vast majority -- about eight in 10 -- were raised in religious homes.

    To put it simply: Older generations of Americans are not passing along the Christian faith as effectively as their forebears.

    "It's not as if young people today are being raised in a way completely different from Christianity," said Smith, the Pew researcher. "But as adults they are simply dropping that part of their identity."

    Meet the Friendly Atheists Next Door:

    While Pew's study will likely to cheer the hearts of atheists, the rapid rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans hasn't necessarily spawned a generation of infidels.

    Just 3% of the "nones" call themselves atheists, a small bump from 2007, when 1.5% did the same. Four percent say they are agnostic, meaning they don't know if God exists, a gain of 1.6 percentage points from seven years ago.

    "We are very cognizant that this does not mean there's been a straight-up spike in nonbelievers," said Paul Fidalgo, communications director for the Center for Inquiry, a secular advocacy group. "But it's still really good news to see a whole generation of people who are making their own decisions about belief, religion and spirituality."

    It's also good news for strict church-state separationists, Fidalgo said, especially those who want to see traditional religious morality disappear from debates over women's health, abortion, same-sex marriage and climate change.

    While the study isn't likely to surprise many mainline Protestants, it throws their decades-long collapse in membership into stark relief. Almost every American town is dotted by historic Episcopal, United Methodist, Evangelical, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches. Increasingly, those churches are empty of young faces. Just 11% of millennials call themselves mainline Protestants. (Only 16% identify with Catholicism.)

    Of America's major faiths, mainline Protestants have the worst retention rate among millennials, with just 37% staying in the fold, Pew found. By contrast, nearly two in three millennials raised without a faith continue to eschew organized religion as adults.

    Most millennials are actually saving for retirement:

    The collapse of American Christianity can't simply be laid at the feet of religious leaders, demographers say. There are bigger societal swings in play: Americans are marrying later, increasingly to spouses who don't share their faith, and having fewer children. (Mainline Protestants have particularly low birth rates.)

    Other experts blame innovations such as the rise of the Internet and social web, where religions can be fact-checked in real time and seekers can find communities of like-minded iconoclasts.

    But Christian leaders still bear some responsibility for not connecting with younger believers, said L. Gregory Jones, a senior strategist for leadership education at Duke University in North Carolina.

    Many young Christians seemed bored by church, he said, pointing to youth ministers as particularly ineffective at piquing millennials' intellectual interests.. One study cited by Jones showed that nearly 70% of full-time youth ministers have no theological education.

    "Christianity in the United States hasn't done a good job of engaging serious Christian reflection with young people, in ways that would be relevant to their lives."

    Instead, many Christian denominations have been riven by internal struggles over homosexuality, particularly in the last decade. While most millennials back gay rights, according to separate surveys, they are more interested in working with the wider world than holding endless debates over sexual morality, Jones said.

    "If it is the case that millennials are less 'atheists' than they are 'bored,' then serious engagements with Christian social innovation, and with deep intellectual reflection (and these two things are connected), would offer promising signs of hope," Jones said.
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  2. JoeNation

    JoeNation Patron Saint of Idiots

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  3. JoeNation

    JoeNation Patron Saint of Idiots

  4. LucyRay

    LucyRay Active Member

    How very sad that you believe all of these things. We will be our own demise. :(
  5. David

    David Proud Enemy of Hillary

    How do you feel when folks like BO, Biden, Jimmy Carter talking about their faith in God?
  6. clembo

    clembo Well-Known Member

    I highly doubt this question was addressed to me. However I shall answer.

    You should have addressed this question as how do you feel when ANYONE talks about their faith in God.

    I am not a religious person myself. Do unto others fits me best.

    If ANYONE feels the need to tell me "I'm a good Christian" I really have my doubts.
    Why did you need to tell me?

    How you treat ANYONE you meet is more important to me.
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  7. Believe it or not a God gene has been discovered in the Human genome that is expressed in some but not others. The same for the gay gene, smart gene and alcohol gene. I believe that something intelligent created the universe but do not believe in any religion. By definition that makes me Agnostic.
  8. Recusant

    Recusant Member

    Hello and welcome to Partisan Lines, Robert Siebert. By your own description, I think that "non-religious" or "unaffiliated" is accurate. What do you understand agnosticism to be?
  9. I have always thought that an agnostic believes in God but none of the man-made religions.
    I have always thought that an atheist does not believe in God and therefore does not believe in any of the man-made religions.
  10. Thanks for the welcome aboard.
  11. Recusant

    Recusant Member

    You're welcome--new members are rare on this site, and those that stick around for any length of time are even rarer. :D

    Hmm, that definition of "agnostic" is at odds with any I've seen. Can you give a source for it?
  12. I pulled my definition of agnostic as I remember it from United Methodist Church in Hilliard, Ohio when I was a teenager some 50 years ago. From watching TV "nostic" means knowledge in ancient Greek and I am guessing that "ag" means against in ancient Greek. Does agnostic mean against knowledge?
  13. Recusant

    Recusant Member

    You're nearly there. The base word, "gnostic" in the religious context refers to knowledge of a deity. When the term is capitalized it generally refers to a quasi-Christian sect that existed during the first few centuries of the Christian era. The "a" in agnostic is a privative: a part of a word (prefix or suffix) that negates or reverses the stem word. So again in a religious context, "agnostic," as I understand it, means somebody who asserts that nothing can be known of a deity--that sort of knowledge just isn't available to people. Some people use the word to define themselves as fence-sitters in regard to the question of deities, and that has become a very popular understanding of the term but is not its original meaning, as coined by Thomas Huxley.
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  14. Thank you but I am not a "fence-sitter" as coined by Thomas Huxley. I have only had one encounter with Jesus and hope I do not bore you with an old war story. When we were being shelled and we where shelling back in Vietnam when first being exposed to combat, I prayed real hard to God and he sent Jesus in his stead. I was somewhat disappointed that God did not show up but Jesus said God is too busy with the rest of the Universe to take care of my trivial problem and Jesus was somewhat angry with me. Jesus told me that everything will be alright and disappeared in a flash. I did not find Jesus in a church but found him on the battlefield.
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  15. IQless1

    IQless1 trump supporters are scum

    If it's going to be somewhere, that's not a bad place. It calmed you. In combat, as well as in general life, calmness makes a big difference.
  16. Takiji

    Takiji Well-Known Member

    You sound in some respects like a deist. Although I doubt that a deist would be having encounters with Jesus. Whatever you are, you seem thoughtful and a good guy and maybe capable of raising the tone around here a little. Welcome.
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  17. clembo

    clembo Well-Known Member

    I second that motion.

    A new voice is always welcome.

    One that actually thinks is a bonus.
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  18. Yes it did calm me tremendously, I knew it was a real encounter because I was scared to death and after Jesus left saying everything will be alright, my fear forever disappeared. I knew it was Jesus because he told me his name and will go to my death bed believing in him. I see Jesus in nature rather than in a church. Gosh this thread has turned into a long one. : )
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  19. Thank you clembo, you are making me blush.
  20. I am not sure what a Deist is except that Dei is ancient Latin for God.

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