Tuesday, March 10, 2009

i'm not looking forward to obsolescence

Hey, CNN has announced that America is becoming less Christian at a pretty quick rate. I mean, that's how the headline reads and everything. So what gives?

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League said he thinks a radical shift towards individualism over the last quarter-century has a lot to do it.

"The three most dreaded words are thou shalt not," he told Lou Dobbs. "Notice they are not atheists -- they are saying I don't want to be told what to do with my life."

Well, that's a simple answer. It's that pesky individualism that's got people giving faith a miss. We don't care for your rules. We're all rebels. We're all rockers.

But if you actually read the article, there's something else at play. Something that I find a little more disturbing.

The survey also found that "born-again" or "evangelical" Christianity is on the rise, while the percentage who belong to "mainline" congregations such as the Episcopal or Lutheran churches has fallen.

One in three Americans consider themselves evangelical, and the number of people associated with mega-churches has skyrocketed from less than 200,000 in 1990 to more than 8 million in the latest survey.

Right there, folks. I don't at all think it's a coincidence that as "'born-again' or 'evangelical' Christianity is on the rise," a larger number of people are being turned off by the idea of faith altogether. Really, I'm surprised that these fundamentalist, anti-intellectual, harshly judgmental, and (in the case of the mega-churches) impersonal versions of Christianity haven't chased off more people.

Especially as, more and more, this is the version of the Church most people are seeing.


Chris Ayers said...

And what's worse, the noisy obnoxious branch of Christianity can point out how they're really the persecuted minority they think they are.


Anonymous said...

(1) As a nation, we've also become more mobile in the last few decades. It's more common for folks to move to follow a job or promotion. It's hard to find a good fit with a congregation six states away from home, so one's offspring isn't raised in the church/synagogue/mosque...
(2) Maybe we've all come to our senses and realized that a large portion of global conflict is tied to religion, and that who and how one worships might not be anyone else's business...

Steaming bowl o' Calderone said...

From How We Believe: Science Skepticism and the Search for God...

According to a Wall Street Journal poll in 1996, 96% believe in God
90% believe in heaven
79% believe in miracles
73% believe in hell
72% believe in angels
and 65% believe the devil is real

Church membership has gone from a paltry 17% at the time of the Revolutionary war to 34% during the mid-nineteenth century to over 60% today (it should be noted that the book was originally released in 2000 and reprinted in 2003 so it's possible those numbers have gone down somewhat, but I doubt significantly).

Something to consider.