In October 2012 there was a report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that reveals people in the United States are losing their religion.
Here is the main graph from the report:
From the poll, 20% of the people in the US say they are unaffiliated with a religion and this includes agnostics and atheists. That means 1 out of every 5 people in the US has no connection to any religion.
A deeper dive into the poll data shows that this increase in people being unaffiliated with religion can be attributed to younger people.
The rise in people who characterize themselves as unaffiliated with religion comes almost exclusively from Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1994).
There was one other piece of this report that I feel is noteworthy:
88% of those who are unaffiliated with a religion ARE NOT LOOKING! Gone are the days when churches worked to minister to those who were called ‘seekers’ because the people who aren’t religious are not seeking.
So what does this data tell us?
Just because someone isn’t affiliated with an official religion doesn’t mean that person can’t be considered a believer in a particular religion. A Christian doesn’t have to belong to an officially recognized church to be still considered in the Church/Faith. These people can still fellowship and worship with others in homes or other places outside of any organized religion but I have to believe that the vast majority of people who characterized themselves as unaffiliated with any religion don’t fall into this special exception.
The US is on a path to become a nation where a majority of its citizens are not associated with any religion. Drawing a trend line on the first graph shows that every 5 years the number of people who are unaffiliated with a religion increases by 5 percentage points so that means in 30 years half the people in the US will fall into that category.
And that estimate is conservative because as this NPR story shows, the percent of the US population that are unaffiliated with religion has increased significantly over the past decade.
So it is quite possible that in one more generation we could see a majority of US citizens unaffiliated with any religion.
As a citizen of the US and one who is passionate about individual liberties, the fact that more Americans are not affiliated with a religion is not that troublesome to me. Being affiliated with a religion is not, in itself, anti-American because this country was founded on Freedom of Religion and this also means respecting the Rights of individuals to decline religious affiliations.
But as a Christian and someone who has experienced the saving Grace of Jesus Christ, this data from Pew upsets me.
This data shows that Christians are not doing the work that we are called to do. The Bible is very clear that Christians are not to be relegated to a hermit lifestyle and keep this Gospel to ourselves. Jesus, as our example, lived and ministered to those who needed His help and we should too. The marching orders for Christians are very simple – Come and See, Go and Tell. Once we have come and seen the risen Christ (through a realization that our sins are covered through the death and resurrection of Jesus) we are then commanded to go and tell others.
When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone?
When was the last time you lived your life so that others would see you and realize that there was something inside you that set you apart from the world?
When was the last time someone asked you why you go to church on Sunday?
Gone are the days when we could rely on preachers in buildings reaching those who are lost and needing God’s Grace. Large stadiums are not filled with people hearing Billy Graham preach the Gospel.
God could’ve set up a system where angels periodically appeared to people and shared the Gospel but the Creator of the Universe didn’t choose to do that. Like it or not, ALL Christians have the responsibility to spread the Gospel and share our testimonies with those who need to hear it. This is not the time to stay in your comfort zone.
People need the Lord, now more than ever.
This is a very good essay that explains the position of “religious agnostics” which best describes my personal belief system.
It’s pretty rare for me to agree with something in the NYT but one of the reasons I still read it.
Reblogged this on The Peanut Gallery and commented:
Our Mission: to reach one more for Jesus. “Come and see! Go and tell!”
These trends are indicative of the mindsets that will characterize the last days. May I reblog this?
Absolutely, you can reblog this! Thanks!
Reblogged this on Reinventing the We'll and commented:
Let the church rise up. These are our days!
I think your statistics are the result of a) Christians being vilified by the media and Hollywood as “right wing wackos” and b) Parents wanting to be their child’s friend instead of what they should be. Oh, and c) I believe it is the father’s role to be their family’s pastor in the home and how many dad’s are doing that today? Do our children see us praying? Openly talking about our faith? As Christians, we do have an obligation to share the Gospel, but sometimes we forget it starts with our example, in our own homes.
We need to be salt and light to everyone we come in contact with.
Thanks for this one, Cosmocson. It’s a bit jolting.
I think the % of people who label themselves as Christian was around 75% in 2008, if I remember correctly. But those numbers are falling.
There is much that has changed in the US since I was a child. Discipline seems to have disappeared. The child is raised with parents in fear over harming his ego when his ego really needs reigned in. Knowing you are not the most important person in the universe is important. Knowing you are important to your family and to God is important.
Morality along with the fear of hurting children’s egoes has also gone by the wayside. We don’t hold the entertainment media, TV, music, gaming, social internet sites to any standard of conduct, much as we don’t our children. With no rules, how do we expect any knowledge of right and wrong?
I have always felt a little distate for Pew. They seem to find the worst in their polling about faith. or maybe it’s me. But I really should research the board members, the professionals, who do the polling. Some polling is very skewed.
But I do believe, as do you, Cosmocson, that we are to be light to the world. In this many of us have failed. The love that shows from us when we obey the Lord Jesus’ commands is real. We are truly to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” ..”and then the end will come…”
I get too busy with things in my life.
This is so important.
This is a link to a blogger who received 650,000 page views for her essay on this subject.
It’s worth reading for those intellectually curious in another perspective.
Thanks Blaine, I emjoyed reading both articles you linked in this comment section.