The Barna Group has an interesting report on just how “post-Christian” America has become and is becoming. They try to go beyond mere labels and look at what people actually believe, using 15 different specific attributes. Here’s how they defined it:
To shed light on this, the Barna team created an aggregate metric of post-Christian culture based upon 15 different measures of identity, belief and behavior. To qualify as post-Christian, individuals met 60% or more of the factors (nine or more out of 15 criteria). Highly post-Christian individuals met 80% or more of the factors (12 or more of these 15 criteria). These 15 factors are shown in the infographic below…
“For decades, our research shows the variations of asking people about faith. For example, many self-described atheists also claim to pray to a deity. Long-time churchgoers often lack basic orthodox beliefs. People who effortlessly self-describe as ‘Christian’ may live like practical atheists in most other parts of their lives.
“Also, understanding secularization in the U.S. begins with realizing the enormous footprint of Christianity in this country. The Barna measure is designed to take an over-arching, aggregate view of society’s engagement with faith generally and Christianity specifically. While Barna Group interviews all U.S. adults in our polling, regardless of their faith, we have a unique vantage point on measuring engagement with Christianity. Therefore, our measure looks at the degree to which the nation is post-Christian.”
The differences by generation are striking, and they suggest a less “Christianized” nation in the decades to come. The younger the generation, the increasingly post-Christian it is compared with its predecessors. Nearly half of Mosaics (48%) qualify as post-Christian compared with two-fifths of Busters (40%). One-third of Boomers (35%) and one-quarter of Seniors (28%) are post-Christian. These patterns are consistent with other studies that show the increasing percentage of “Nones” among younger generations.
I don’t like some of their criteria. For example, one is whether someone has read the Bible. I dare say that atheists have generally read the Bible more than many Christians, so if someone says they’ve read the Bible, that should not be considered a “hit” for not being “post-Christian.” But this data is very interesting.