Is Christianity Fading in America?

This week’s newspapers are full of disturbing news about the state of Christianity in America.  A new report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford surveyed over 54,000 adults last year and discovered.

  • The percentage of Christians in American has declined significantly in recent years.
  • The number of people who claim to have no religion is increasing – from about 8 percent of the population in 1990, to about 14 percent in 2001, and today it’s 15 percent.
  • Northern New England has surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region of the country.
  • The state of Vermont reports the highest share of people claiming no religion—34 percent.
  • The percentage of Americans who say they have no religion has increased in every single state in the union.
  • The number of Americans who claim to be Christians has decreased from 86 percent in 1990, to 77 percent in 2001, and to 76 percent now. 
  • Evangelical or born-again Americans made up 34 percent of all American adults.
  • The survey found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives.  Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony, and 27 percent say they do not want a religious funeral.

Another survey, this one by the Barna Group, found that less than one percent (1.0 %) of young adults hold to a biblical world view.

Perhaps the most dire report was an editorial in the Christian Science Monitor, entitled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse.”  The article said, “We are on the verge – within ten years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity.”  More about this tomorrow.

For now, a few thoughts:

First, it’s fair to say that the future doesn’t seem bright for Christians in America.  We have to be prepared to live for Christ an anti-Christian culture.  We have to be intentional about preparing our young people to live in a post-Christian society.

Second, we have to pray for revival!  But even if revival doesn’t occur, we’ll be faithful to the end.  Things are no worse than they were in the first century when the early Christians were dragged through the streets and thrown to the lions.  Persecution against Christians is at fever pitch in much of the world today, and our job isn’t to avoid it at all costs, but to be faithful against all foes. 

Third, it’s always a mistake to assume Christianity is dead and buried.  As we saw on Easter Sunday, the “corpse” has a way of resurrecting and outliving the critics.