Friday, March 13, 2009

Less Christian...More Honest?

America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found. Seventy-five percent of Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1990, the figure was 86 percent.

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."

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...

The rise in evangelical Christianity is contributing to the rejection of religion altogether by some Americans, said Mark Silk of Trinity College. "In the 1990s, it really sunk in on the American public generally that there was a long-lasting 'religious right' connected to a political party, and that turned a lot of people the other way," he said of the link between the Republican Party and groups such as the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family. In an earlier time, people who would have been content to say, 'Well, I'm some kind of a Protestant,' now say 'Hell no, I won't go,'" he told CNN.

As I read this, it seems to be good news for evangelical and non-denominational churches experiencing significant growth, Catholics, despite all the bad publicity of late, are holding steady, classical Protestants are in freefall.

Religions whose adherents do not seem to have the wherewithal for their faith to survive the political cycles of our society really should re-examine their message and methods. Christianity, after all is about Christ and his message! Political persuasion and activism is very peripheral, minor even, when compared to the daily commitment to love and follow Christ, serving Him and our neighbor with courage, gladness and singleness of heart.

From another perspective, to be perfectly honest, “I am some kind of Protestant” sounds like a profession of faith most pastors pray their parishioners do not grow up into!The kind of devotion that seems unable to give a more clear explanation of faith and denominational affiliation is definitely not what churches aspire for in their congregants. In my opinion, when it comes to faith, clarity is a lot better than ambiguity.

Maybe more Americans are finally to a point of greater honesty! With increasing social acceptance of the non-religious, why is it necessary to be a member of churches whose basic tenets you reject, or claim to be followers of a teacher whose teachings are objectionable?

I fail to see how that is a bad situation at all. America may be no less Christian, just more honest!