Christian “decline” is just Nominals becoming Nones

The headlines about the Pew Report, including at this blog, say that Christianity is declining in America.  But if you look closer, says Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer, the data shows that the decline is in “nominal Christians”–those in name only–who are becoming open about their unbelief and calling themselves “Nones.”  The number of “convictional” Christians–those who really believe all that stuff–is holding steady.  See his analysis of the data after the jump.

There was a time when church membership was a cultural advantage.  Belonging to a church was good for business and a sign of fitting into the community.  So church membership rolls were filled with “pewsitters” or “Christmas/Easter” members.  Today, belonging to a church can be a cultural disadvantage.  So there is no reason for nominal Christians to bother with it.

This exit of the nominals can be a good thing, on one level, but I want to make two important caveats. [Read more...]

New study shows percentage of Christians declining

The Pew Research Center has released a new study of American religion.  In 2007, the date of its previous research, the percentage of Christians was 78%.  By 2014, the percentage dropped to 70%.   The percentage of those with no religious affiliation has shot up from 16% to 23%.  (Atheists have gone from 1.6% to 3.1%.)

Much of the decline in the number of Christians has come from dwindling mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics.  Evangelicals (and the study explicitly puts the LCMS in this category) are holding pretty steady.  Though declines are evident across regions, ages, and other demographics, the study says much of it can be accounted for by the Millennial Generation.  A link to the study, which has lots more fascinating details, after the jump. [Read more...]

The fastest growing religion

A new Pew study of trends in world religions says that Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion.  Though Islam will come close, Christianity will still have the greatest numbers, with 40% living in sub-Saharan Africa.  The number of atheists, agnostics, and the unaffiliated–though increasing in the United States–will dwindle worldwide.   Details and more findings after the jump. [Read more...]

The world’s most Christian nation. . .

. . .is soon to be China, according to scholars who project that in ten years the still-Communist country will have 160 million Protestants (the USA has 159 million) and in 15 years 247 million Christians in all, more than any other nation. [Read more...]

The religious spectrum of liberals and conservatives

E. J. Dionne is a liberal columnist who is also a  faithful Catholic.  He has written a column warning liberals about the anti-religion reflex that some of them display.  In doing so, he cites a useful study of where both liberals and conservatives fall on the religious spectrum. [Read more...]

Unorganized religion

Michael Gerson discusses the 20% of Americans who describe their religion as “none.”  It isn’t that the “Nones” (not to be confused with “nuns”) don’t believe in God, necessarily.  64% of them do.  They just don’t want to affiliate with any “organized religion.”

The statistics about “Nones” probably don’t include the number of self-described Christians who feel the same way.  I know of some who haven’t found a church they can agree with or that is up to their high standards.  So they don’t go to church at all.  After all, with their “me-and-Jesus” theology, why do they need a church?  But they do.

The good news is that 40% of those raised as “Nones” drop out of their non-religion to join an actual religious institution.  Hey, isn’t that about the same drop out rate, according to one measure, for young people raised in churches? [Read more...]


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