The Graying of the Priesthood, Continued

Pope Francis's visit to the U.S. this week is generating reams of breathless, anticipatory coverage. But all the media excitement can't change that there are severe, long-run problems for the church that are already having an impact, and that a papal red-carpet tour isn't going to fix.One of those big problems is the aging and dwindling of the priesthood. Simply stated, priests and nuns are growing old and dying, and there's nowhere near enough new recruits to replace them. I've written … [Read more...]

How Low Will It Go? The Continuing Decline of American Christianity

The Pew Research Center has released a huge new survey of the American religious landscape, showing how the demographics have shifted from 2007 to 2014. And the lede is very, very good for us:[A] major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to … [Read more...]

The Atheist Community Is Diversifying


I was pleased to read about a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute on millennial views about sex. It confirms our generally pro-choice and non-judgmental attitude, with a few caveats:"What we see running through the answers is that where principles of fairness come up, millennials want to see equal access to health services, abortion and contraception. They think people should have individual freedom to make decisions," said [Robert] Jones [CEO of PRRI].For the most … [Read more...]

An Honest Look at Catholicism’s Decline


I came across an essay by Peter Daly, a Catholic priest, that I wanted to address: "An attempt to answer the question: Where are the young adults?" It's notable for being the frankest admission I've seen from a Catholic of the demographic crisis the church is facing, as well as a bracingly honest study of the causes.Daly begins with a statement of the problem:Everywhere from Boston to Minneapolis, Catholic churches have closed or been consolidated into regional clusters. The chief … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: The Peaceful Side of Atheism


I've published a new column on the Guardian: "If peace on earth is our goal, atheism might be the means to that end".From the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to the disintegration of Syria, to the atrocities of Islamic State and Boko Haram, it sometimes seems as if the world is spiraling down a vortex of bloodshed and violence. But in spite of these headlines, the truth is that the world is becoming more peaceful, not less. In the new piece, I argue that the rise of atheism in America and … [Read more...]

Lee Strobel Says Atheism Is Winning


Here's some welcome news to start out 2015: Lee Strobel, the famed Christian apologist, says that atheism is winning and evangelical Christianity is "facing a crisis":"We are facing a crisis in America. Skepticism is rising. Too many young people are leaving the faith. Few Christians are able to effectively share Jesus with others," Strobel said in a statement released exclusively to The Christian Post. "At many churches, reaching spiritually lost people falls to the bottom of their … [Read more...]

Book Reviews: Fighting Back the Right, Living the Secular Life


(Author's Note: The following reviews were solicited and are written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Fighting Back the Right by David NioseI previously reviewed Nonbeliever Nation by David Niose, a past president of the American Humanist Association. His new book, Fighting Back the Right, tells the story of how the right wing became a formidable force in America's culture wars and what we can do about it.The modern conservative movement, in Niose's account, is … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: The Millennials and the Midterms


My newest column on the Guardian is up!It's titled "Godless millennials could end the political power of the religious right", and it concerns the demographic trends toward a more secular America that I've been covering for some time. In it, I argue that there's evidence these trends are making themselves felt in electoral politics. Here's an excerpt:The 2014 midterm elections are drawing near, and it appears that the Democrats may well lose the Senate, since they're fighting on … [Read more...]

The Coming Secular Era


The most important changes don't come in the form of attention-grabbing headlines, but subtle trends that quietly gather momentum until, by the time they finally burst into public view, they're unstoppable. Such is the case with the most important, and paradoxically most underappreciated, trend in American religion today: the long-term, across-the-board decline of Christianity and the corresponding rise of atheism, which has been going on behind the scenes for more than twenty years and is now … [Read more...]

The South Will Not Rise Again

Last year, I wrote about the continuing exodus of members from the Catholic church, and apologists' fumbling suggestions for how to reverse the trend. I noted with amusement that there was an elephant in the room - the church's retrograde doctrines which drive away young people - which the apologists were carefully tiptoeing around while they made minor suggestions about the decor and the color scheme.Well, as they say, history rhymes. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant … [Read more...]