Saturday, October 3, 2009
Where Have All the Christians Gone?
In a recent study of Americans’ religious beliefs shows the number of people who claim no religious affiliation has doubled since 1990, a reduction of fifteen percent, and is the highest point in history.
Those whom identify themselves as Christians are taking plummeting losses in America, while the number of non-believers is on the increase. Non-believers now represent the third-highest group of Americans, after Catholics and Baptists.
Protestants now represent half of all Americans, down almost 20 percent in the last twenty years. If this trend keeps up, in the near future America will become a minority Protestant nation for the first time since the pilgrims.
The demographics of those rejecting organized religion are the under 30 young people. Nearly a quarter of Americans in their 20’s professing no organized religion.
I should state at this time that these non-believers are not particularly atheist. Instead, these individuals have a belief in God but no interest in organized religion, or they believe in a personal God but not in a formal faith tradition.
Organized religions that have been catering to the fanatical right wing aspect believers have been a recipe for failure. It has only turned off and exposed the hypocritical views of this group and turned off the freer thinking younger Americans. Many of the “20 something’s” in Americans who could be interested in God, but they don’t think existing institutions are helping them draw closer to God. The constant drone of the religious right wing political preaching just does not hold up to the truths they can see for themselves.
It is also a fact that Americans’ interest in religion has not always been stable. It dipped following the Revolution and again following Civil War. In both cases it rebounded because religious institutions adapted and found new ways of relating to everyday Americans.
Today, the rise of disaffection is so powerful that different denominations will need to band together for financial reason and transform into shared religious message that will enable a movement beyond the fading divisions of the past traditions. If organized religion does not adapt then America will just become like Europe, where religion is fast becoming an afterthought.