Christianity Declines Sharply in America. Here’s the One, Two Three of It.

Christianity Declines Sharply in America. Here’s the One, Two Three of It. May 12, 2015
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Recent polls show a seven percent drop in the past eight years in the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christians.

This is due to a number of influences. Here is a short list of things I think have contributed to this situation.

First, and absolutely foremost, the incessant Christian bashing and hazing of Christians has to be at the top of the list. Christianity is attacked from every quarter, every single day. Christians have become the new hate group and Christianity is the new hate faith. This is done by lies, slander, half-truths, mockery and flat-out hate. Being a Christian who stands for Christ means that you will be ridiculed, reviled and attacked.

Second, the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men — and it’s nearly all men — have abandoned Jesus Christ to go off after a political, little g god who — Surprise! — thinks like them. They have drop-kicked the Beatitudes and much of what Christ and the prophets taught to preach and teach the gospel of Ayn Rand and Arthur Laffer. They seriously claim that there is no moral requirement to policies and behavior where economics and moneymaking are concerned.

They have deified corporatism and war and claim a moral imperative for policies that impoverish the people of this country. They have become so identified with the Republican Party that they might as well take the cross down off the altars in their churches and put the elephant up there, instead.

Third, the other side of the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men and women — a good number of these are women — have drop-kicked the calls to justice and personal morality. There is no moral innovation or personal death-dealing philosophy that they do not support. Many of them have gone so far as to align themselves with militant atheists who openly state that they intend to destroy Christianity.

They have attempted to create a moral imperative for murder of the unborn, the elderly, the sick and the helpless. They support the limitation of religious freedom and join in with critics of the Gospels. They are so identified with the Democratic Party that, like their fellow wing-nut brethren on the right, they might as well remove the cross off their altars and replace it with the Democratic donkey.

Fourth, we have far too many preachers who eschew any controversy, including the controversy of the Cross. They are so namby-pamby and feel-good that you can’t tell by listening to them if they really believe in anything or not. This kind of preacher does well in wealthy parishes. All they have to do is mumble a few platitudes over the vicissitudes of life that their parishioners encounter and preach well-written sermons that are like soft pillows of reassurance to people whose problems are always wrapped in the comfort middle-class ease.

These pastors don’t convert anybody. In fact, they’re proud of not proselytizing, as if trying to save people from eternal hell was too gauche for them. You won’t find any mention of the R and D in their churches. And, except for the annual Christmas Eve candlelight service and the gauzy Easter service, you won’t find much mention of Jesus, either. They, and their churches are what Jesus called “neither hot nor cold.”

Item four is a good bit of why item one has been allowed to flourish. Their indifference to Christ makes defending Christ an impolitic overreaction for them.

Items two and three are what created the monster in the first place. It does not matter if they are aligned to the left or the right, clergy who practice the political heresy do not preach Christ. It is easy to caricatureize Christianity when you focus on fallen and false shepherds such as these. The Holy Spirit will not honor the preaching of heretics who preach a false gospel of political redemption and who lead people to political alliances rather than to the cross.

Yes, we need to take a stand against the Christian bashing that is going on in this country. We need to do it, not just as Christians, but as Americans. This vitriolic bigotry is a lethal poison in the body politic. No group of people in America should be subjected to the vicious and destructive hazing that has become normal for Christians.

Yes, those of us who are called to the political world need to stand up for the civil and Constitutional rights of Christians. We certainly should vote for an end to abortion and to save the family. No Christian can vote for murder, which means you cannot vote for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research. You may not kill people.

But by the same token, no Christian should vote for corporatism and corporate welfare that impoverishes the people of this country. Economically, this country has been at war since 1941. That, and not social security, is why we have a deficit. History is replete with the economic meltdowns that occur when wars go on too long.

Too many of our wars are fought for corporate greed rather than to protect the people of this country. Too much of our money is going to build a defense that is not even useful to the defense of this country.

Do you realize what I have just done to you? I have basically told you that you can not support either one of our political parties. That isn’t an accident.

We need to take the elephant and the donkey off the altars of our churches and put the cross back up there.

People need to hear the true Gospel of Christ in all its fullness. This generation needs the saving power of Calvary as much as the pagan world of the first century.

Our priests and preachers need to stop preaching politics and start preaching Christ. They need to preach Christ and Him crucified without shame or dissembling, with the full power of belief. We need to convert this culture, one person at a time.

We will not do that with politics. We will do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. We will change the world when we start trying to change the world for Christ and Him alone.

Our clergy need to preach Christ. You and I need to preach Christ as well; with our lives, with our words, with our daily witness. But none of us — not clergy, not laity — can do this without the power of the Holy Spirit. That begins on our knees.

Pray. Pray every day. Pray for real. Then be a living witness to your salvation.

As for our clergy, stop thinking it’s about you. It’s not. You weren’t called to do well. You were called to do good. Your vocation is meant to make a gift of you to God’s people. All vocations do that. They make us a gift to others.

We need shepherds.

Far too often, we’ve had wolves.

From the USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.

That’s the top finding — one that will ricochet through American faith, culture and politics — in the Pew Research Center’s newest report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” released Tuesday.

This trend “is big, it’s broad and it’s everywhere,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research.

Christianity still dominates American religious identity (70%), but the survey shows dramatic shifts as more people move out the doors of denominations, shedding spiritual connections along the way.

Atheists and agnostics have nearly doubled their share of the religious marketplace, and overall indifference to religion of any sort is rising as well. Only the historically black Protestant churches have held a steady grip through the years of change.

 

 

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9 responses to “Christianity Declines Sharply in America. Here’s the One, Two Three of It.”

  1. On items 2 and 3 I don’t know if you can just pin that all on the clergy. The laity deserves equal blame. We arn’t the laity of old who can’t read or can barely read and probably have never had time to examine the scriptures and for Roman Catholics other documents written by the church doctors on which they base their traditions upon. We have insanely easy access to all of it via the internet and can if we want to be well read and informed on these matters. Because the laity is educated they too must share responsibility for allowing their politics to dictate their faith.

    Although I have to say personally that I tend to think a lot of this is a little overrated. The reason is that I believe church attendance hasn’t changed much over the entire history of the country. My view is that a lot of this is that years ago people who didn’t go to church still felt forced via culture to associate themselves with a religion and they would associate themselves with Christianity because it was by far the most popular religion. But that doesn’t really indicate that they where all that serious about the church or it’s doctrines.

    Basically a lot of people are just more comfortable about telling the truth.

    But now it’s more acceptable to say you arn’t associated with any church. So now these people who might have in the past named a church just to fit in a little better with the population are just outright saying that they arn’t religious.

    • I whole-heartedly agree with the sentiment you expressed about people nowadays feeling more comfortable telling the truth, but I believe it is only the truth if it relates to sensitive matters, like religious allegiance. It is about time that honest people can “come out” as “nones” without facing extreme discrimination. As this PROGRESS continues, there will be more honesty in these matters. Honesty such that when you talk pro-life, you don’t exclude a prohibition on capital punishment – yes, capital punishment is murder; it is just legal in many jurisdictions. If you want to split hairs and exclude legal murder, then you also need to exclude euthanasia (where legal) and abortion. You just simply can’t twist the truth to fit your point of view. So, let’s have more truth telling BY ALL.

  2. I can understand why clerics pursue the path of heresy. Jesus was considered heretical by the orthodox of his own time. There was a time when the only way to prevent heresy was to eliminate the leading heretics with acts of violence. The legacy of orthodoxy is not pretty.

    • Actually, the reason Jesus’ attackers had such trouble at His trial before the Jewish leaders was that they couldn’t prove heresy. They were unable to do this until He Himself told them that He was the Messiah. That is the “heresy” they claimed. Then, when they put Him before Pilate, they lied and claimed that He wanted to overturn the Roman Empire.

      He was never considered a heretic. He was considered a danger to the power of the powerful and totally fallen priests.

      • His perspective on purity certainly contradicted orthodox dietary rules. He also violated the Sabbath in the eyes of the orthodox by healing folks.

        • That wasn’t heresy. It was just what they thought of as disobedience. Of course, Jesus was God, as the same Scripture says in that same area you are referencing, “The Son of Man is Master of the Sabbath.”

          They had no proof of heresy at his trial until He gave it to them Himself by saying that He was the Messiah.

          On a side note: It is a practical impossibility for God to commit heresy.

        • Sophia, The Law was given because of the Israelites’ disobedience in the desert. The Messiah was to come to fulfill the law. In the Mishnah it said that if one man kept the whole law for even one day the Kingdom of God had arrived. Jesus came to fulfill the law and He accomplished that.

  3. Wait, it’s not just the religious men. You’re forgetting the LCWR nuns and their shrine to the left. Your last sentence in “Second” had me laughing. Did I tell you I have a shrine set up with an elephant as the corpus on the crucifix? LOL, I’m kidding.
    Seriously I don’t think it’s any of your reasons. There have always been problem clergy. Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales was knocking bad religious. The problem is the culture which substantiates a secular, non mythic world view, and it’s further substantiated by our relativist universities. We are litterally teaching ourselves into atheism. Secularism and relativism is destroying western culture.

  4. So the number one reason for people leaving Christianity is people bashing Christians. To prove this, on points 2,3 and 4 you proceed to bash groups of Christians you disagree with. Classic.

    Seriously though, you are making too much of an issue over this. When we live in a world so bizarre that somebody can be openly and unequivocally pro-war, pro-torture, pro-death penalty, with social-economic policies centered around the idea of “survival of the fittest” and still call themselves “Christian” without a hint of irony, then “Christian” has essentially become a meaningless label.

    That’s why outside the context of a theological discussion, I really don’t care that much about people’s religious beliefs. The values you uphold transcend the religion you believe in. What you care about, what you stand for, what’s your vision of society and the future, tell me far more about a person than where do they worship on Sundays.

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