Two Worldnetdaily Columns on a Single Day

It’s a tale of two Worldnetdaily columns, each of them addressing the recent Pew report that shows a significant decline in Americans identifying as Christians and completely contradicting one another. First we have Jerry Newcombe, telling people not to buy that terrible survey:

Will the last true Christian in America please turn out the lights on the way out? A recent study on religion and America that has received much attention has been interpreted by some to indicate that Christianity is on its virtual deathbed.

But as the saying goes, “The good news is the bad news is wrong.”…

Dr. Byron Johnson, a great researcher who often works with Gallup on the subject of religion in America, cautions us on the interpretation of the data. The author of the book “More God, Less Crime,” Johnson teaches at Baylor and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.

I asked Dr. Johnson about the new study, especially about the rise of the “nones.” He said, “Don’t be fooled, Jerry. We have some of the world’s top religion scholars doing social science research. We publish books and scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals – the other side doesn’t do either.”

In a recent radio interview I did with him, Dr. Johnson made some fascinating remarks on the perceived decline of Christianity in America and the rise of the “nones.”…

For example, says Johnson: “In one of their recent studies, Pew found that 44 percent of Americans are not affiliated with the religious tradition/denomination in which they were raised. That finding was interpreted to mean that 44 percent of Americans had abandoned the faith. But this simply acknowledges that Americans shop around in a highly competitive religious economy – looking for the best product. It’s a sign of religion’s vitality, not a sign of leaving faith behind. ”

He added, “Much to the chagrin of most of the media, atheism has remained flat for over seven decades. Four percent of Americans fall into that category. It hasn’t changed. If atheism were on the rise, it would be such a phenomenal story. But instead, since it isn’t, they have to do what they can to make us believe that it is.”

But in the very next sentence, Johnson says, “You’d be blind not to know we have a secular society.” Not exactly a coherent position. But on the very same day, we have Joseph Farah touting that very same study as proof that America has “forgotten God.”

America has forgotten God, too.

It was just last week that a national poll showed just how quickly America is forgetting about and rejecting God today.

The Pew Foundation survey found a tremendous drop in the percentage of Americans who identify as Christians just since 2007 – from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent seven years later.

Where are those Christians going? Just where they went in the Soviet Union – to the embracing of atheism, agnosticism, vague spirituality and indifference.

Pick a horse and ride it, WND.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Where are those Christians going? Just where they went in the Soviet Union – to the embracing of atheism, agnosticism, vague spirituality and indifference.

    I’ve been to the Church of Indifference. It was okay, I guess.

  • eric

    For example, says Johnson: “In one of their recent studies, Pew found that 44 percent of Americans are not affiliated with the religious tradition/denomination in which they were raised. That finding was interpreted to mean that 44 percent of Americans had abandoned the faith

    What a complete straw man; PEW is very careful not to say that and nobody who read it for content would say that. They talk a lot about within-faith switches and where believers go when they leave a sect. Moreover, questions about retention vs. recruitment do not change the overall trend in membership, which for most Christian sects, slopes downward over time.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I’ve been to the Church of Indifference. It was okay, I guess.

    I love you, Modus, and your bull-dyke haircut, too!

  • anubisprime

    Johnson or Farah…one of them is sawing a fiddle…guess which one?

  • dingojack

    I asked Dr. Johnson about the new study, especially about the rise of the “nones.”

    Well OK then Byron, knock my socks off with your deep insightful cogitations on the rise of the ‘unaffiliated’ in the adult US population:

    He said, “Don’t be fooled, Jerry. We have some of the world’s top religion scholars doing social science research. We publish books and scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals – the other side doesn’t do either.”

    I’ll take non-sequiturs for $100 thanks Alex.

    Dingo

  • raven

    Very few fundies are even aware of the latest Pew survey. They don’t pay much attention to reality since it doesn’t have much to do with their religion.

    1. I visited a forum where a lot of fundie xians hang out and glanced at 5 threads. None of them even mentioned the new survey even though it has been in the news for days.

    2. The local fundie xian churches newsletter has been complaining that they are hemorrhaging money and members. They have had to lay off people and defer maintenance on their buildings.

    They have absolutely no idea why this is happening. None. I’d tell them to look in a mirror but it isn’t going to work. Fundies don’t cast reflections in mirrors!!! Which should tell them something as well.

    3. As many have noticed, and Amanda Marcotte wrote about, the fundie xians are getting worse. They are turning up the hate, lies, and hypocrisy. Which should help them decline faster.

    It is a well known principle. When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is…stop digging. They aren’t going to stop digging though.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    We publish books and scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals – the other side doesn’t do either.

    But if the demons aren’t producing scientific reports, who writes all those evolution papers?

  • dingojack
  • raven

    Family Christian Stores, America’s Largest Christian Bookstore Chain, Files for Bankruptcy,

    Hopes for Restructuring Process. The largest Christian bookstore chain in the United States filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday in Michigan.Feb 13, 2015

    Family Christian Stores, America’s Largest Christian …

    www. gospelherald. com/…/family-christian-stores-americas-largest-christian…

    Another sign of the End Times. For US xianity.

    The largest xian bookstore in the USA filed for bankruptcy. Another xian bookstore chain did as well.

    To be sure, part of this has do to changing retail i.e. buying online. But part of it is definitely people not spending as much money on xian merchandise. Vacuous books on how to keep the Brownies from annoying your cats and so on.

  • Randomfactor

    Will the last true Christian in America

    There are no true Christians.

  • NitricAcid

    Why shouldn’t a magazine or whatever WND print two articles that disagree with each other? Freethoughts doesn’t insist that articles in Pharyngula agree with those in Butterflies and Wheels, does it?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden “I love you, Modus, and your bull-dyke haircut, too!”

    Really? As a hipster, I only liked me before I got popular. Now I can only like me ironically. It’s too bad. I knew me back before I sold out, back when I was so underground I didn’t even know me.

  • Artor

    “Johnson or Farah…one of them is sawing a fiddle…”

    Are you sure they aren’t dueling banjos?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tqxzWdKKu8

  • Scientismist

    But in the very next sentence, Johnson says, “You’d be blind not to know we have a secular society.” Not exactly a coherent position.

    I really hope that Ed’s wrong about that — I hope that religious belief and recognition of a secular society are compatible. At 70% Christian, neither atheists nor “nones” are going to be a majority in America anytime soon.

    In principle, there should be no reason religious believers can’t also recognize and support a society where many institutions, including (especially) government, operate without religious considerations; and many of them do. The word has come to mean someone who rejects religion in all contexts (and Johnson may mean it that way, too), but a secular society can still leave plenty of room for faith — just don’t burden the rest of the community with taboos, requirements and other dubious assumptions that are supported only by the tenets of your own faith.

  • http://rationalrant.blogspot.com/ sbh

    Dr. Johnson: “Much to the chagrin of most of the media, atheism has remained flat for over seven decades. Four percent of Americans fall into that category. It hasn’t changed.”

    Pew study: 1.6% described themselves as atheist in 2007; it’s 3.1% in 2014, a considerable increase, though short of Johnson’s “Four percent”. We could get four percent in 2007 by adding atheists and agnostics together, but if that’s the case then it’s 7.1% in 2014–again, a considerable increase.

    The Pew study has only been done twice (2007 and 2014) but the Gallup poll on religious affiliation shows an increase in “none” from about 2% in 1950 to 16% in 2014. It’s hard to believe that “Four percent” were atheists in 1950 if only 2% were unaffiliated.

  • dmcclean

    “More God, Less Crime”? :headdesk: Seriously? Presumably just as well researched as its namesake.

    Also, note the sectarian nature of selecting that title over the more parallel “More Gods, Less Crime”.

    But this simply acknowledges that Americans shop around in a highly competitive religious economy – looking for the best product. It’s a sign of religion’s vitality…

    … and the completeness of its sham of “universal” truth.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Odd, I wasted time reading the first article on their website and couldn’t find a single cogent argument about why the study’s results are wrong. The one relevant claim the guy makes, saying that atheism hasn’t increased, is clearly belied by the study itself. It’s also clear that the “nones” are not a bunch of closet evangelicals; some may be, but the share of those who say that religion is “important in their lives” has declined precipitously, so the nones aren’t just growing rapidly, they’re becoming more secular.

    There’s just no way to spin an 8% drop-off in Christianity in a mere 7 years time as anything other than Christianity growing less popular. They’d be better off trying to figure out why (a good look in the mirror would help) than wallowing in denialism.

  • http://mostlyrational.net tacitus

    Since the previous Pew survey I have been saying that I expected the trend away from religion in America will continue, but I have to profess that I was (pleasantly) surprised by the latest survey reporting an acceleration in that trend over the last few years.

    It seems as though we have finally reached a tipping point — one that most other western nations reached some time ago — the moment when society no longer penalizes you for declaring yourself as “not religious”.

    Next up, the moment when politicians can no longer use their religion as shorthand for claiming to be an upstanding and moral person. Still some ways off, I fear.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    But this simply acknowledges that Americans shop around in a highly competitive religious economy – looking for the best product. It’s a sign of religion’s vitality, not a sign of leaving faith behind.

    And what if people decide that Islam is the best product?

  • llewelly

    Newcombe:

    That finding was interpreted to mean that 44 percent of Americans had abandoned the faith.

    By who? I tried googling that, and all the sites I found making such an interpretation were conservative christianitytoday sites.

    Newcombe quoting Johnson:

    “Much to the chagrin of most of the media, atheism has remained flat for over seven decades. Four percent of Americans fall into that category. It hasn’t changed. If atheism were on the rise, it would be such a phenomenal story. But instead, since it isn’t, they have to do what they can to make us believe that it is.”

    There is no data for atheism for most of the last 7 decades. But in the survey Newcombe is yabbling on about:

    Atheism rose from 1.6% in 2007 to 3.1% in 2014 . Actually we’re not even 4% in the pew survey!

    Agnostics rose from 2.4% in 2007 to 4.0% in 2014

    We are still a small portion of the unaffiliated, smaller than the “religion important” unaffiliateds, but we’re growing faster.

    scroll down for the table on the composition of the unaffiliateds.

    http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/chapter-1-the-changing-religious-composition-of-the-u-s/

  • llewelly

    dingojack says

    OT but kinda interesting:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/05/20/this-chart-explains-why-faith-and-science-dont-have-to-be-in-conflict/

    It does offer some hope, and it’s interesting, but I cannot help but note the bubbles in the lower left are much larger than the bubbles in the upper right. The biggest bubbles are quite middling … but, realistically, in order to strongly establish no conflict with science, they should be a lot further toward the upper right – after all, it is a supermajority of climate scientists who accept that global warming is caused by humans and requires regulation, and a supermajority of scientists who accept evolution.

    Religion isn’t strictly required to prevent people from accepting science, but it doesn’t work too well with science.

    What the chart really showes is that dogma strongly influences what science and environmental regulations religious people accept, and for all these religions except JWs, dogma is strongly correlated on these two topics.

    It’s worth pointing out that plenty of sciences have cultures that do not much encourage support for environmental regulations as strongly as evolution. In fact I suspect climate science is one of the few others that does – most sciences probably don’t encourage supporting environmental regulations much. In a sense, the graph is not very two dimensional, since the axes are strongly correlated.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    …and for all these religions except JWs, dogma is strongly correlated on these two topics.

    The JW thing bewilders me. Can anyone explain why Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are stridently anti-evolution, happen to be above average in their environmental conscientiousness? I simply don’t know enough about them to understand why this would be.

  • StevoR

    @11. NitricAcid : “Why shouldn’t a magazine or whatever WND print two articles that disagree with each other? Freethoughts doesn’t insist that articles in Pharyngula agree with those in Butterflies and Wheels, does it?”

    I agree and think that’s a good point. Its actually a fairly common practice that case that even a Murdoch paper will run two articles side by side taking opposing positions on the one topic of debate. These are different authors so it isn’t even the case of one person making two cases at the same time.

    Pick a horse and ride it, WND.

    OTOH, it’d be kind of funny to see them trying to ride two horses simultaneously!

  • dingojack

    Stevo – “OTOH, it’d be kind of funny to see them trying to ride two horses simultaneously!”

    Perhaps send WND a copy of Ben Hur on DVD?

    Dingo