Monday, March 09, 2009

Bad Stats for Christianity in America

The bad news was on the CBS evening news tonight, and it was also on the USA Today website today. Here are some excerpts from the USA Today article by Cathy Lynn Grossman:

“The percentage of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. . . . These dramatic shifts in just 18 years are detailed in the new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), to be released today. It finds that, despite growth and immigration that has added nearly 50 million adults to the U.S. population, almost all religious denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS survey in 1990. . . . So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, ‘the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion,’ the report concludes. . . . Baptists, 15.8% of those surveyed, are down from 19.3% in 1990. Mainline Protestant denominations, once socially dominant, have seen sharp declines: The percentage of Methodists, for example, dropped from 8% to 5%. . . . Kosmin and Keysar also found a ‘piety gap’ in how Americans understand God: While 69% say they believe in a personal God, the Judeo-Christian understanding of the Almighty, an additional 30% made no such connection. The piety gap defines the primary sides in the culture wars, Kosmin says. ‘It's about gay marriage and abortion and stem cells and the family. If a personal God says, “Thou shalt not” or “Thou shalt” see these a certain way, you'd take it very seriously. Meanwhile, three in 10 people aren't listening to that God,’ he says. ‘There's more clarity at the two extremes and the mishmash is in the middle,’ Keysar adds. Mark Silk, director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, sees in the numbers "an emergence of a soft evangelicalism — E-lite — that owes a lot to evangelical styles of worship and basic approach to church. ‘But E-lite is more a matter of aesthetic and style and a considerable softening of the edges in doctrine, politics and social values,’ Silk says.”

The “E-lite” religion is what I find most disturbing. The E-lite folks find themselves in a convenient place. They don’t have to be biblical salt and light in their culture; rather, they can just fit in without making waves. For them, culture is more authoritative than the Bible. America will continue its descent into heathenism unless true Christianity is revived.