Yes we can be sorry about Christianity declining but we might be better off if it did it more quickly for awhile.
A friend of mine pointed out this story from Pew Research: “The Changing Religious Landscape: Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.”
It is bad news, but there is also some good news in the story.
The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.
To be sure, the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans – roughly seven-in-ten – continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith. But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%. And the share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also has inched up, rising 1.2 percentage points, from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2014. Growth has been especially great among Muslims and Hindus, albeit from a very low base.
So, seventy percent of Americans still identify with Christianity. We can be sure that some significant number of them are morally and doctrinally compromised, but that is still something. Also, Evangelical Christians are still the largest group in the United States. That’s pretty amazing to me.
Some of the Pew study’s good news for Christians is really bad news. The fact that “the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world,” means we are still waiting for the explosive growth of Christianity in China and in many other places mainly in the Southern hemisphere to overtake our declining numbers.
Furthermore, it seems to me that we might wish that the decline should happen faster. Why do I say that? Simply because I think most of these people who have shifted into the “unaffiliated” camp didn’t sin by leaving. They sinned by pretending as long as they did. We have too many “Christians” twisting the Gospel to justify abortion, homosexuality, and homosexual “marriage.”
I’d rather be part of a smaller group that actually trusted God and believed the Bible.