44% of Americans *abandoned the faith of their parents.
I don’t know all the details about why this may be happening to other religious traditions, but this is absolutely not a surprise for Christianity. Have you been to church recently? Even in 2008, most churches seem to be hanging onto the past and completely irrelevant to the younger generations of believers and even more irrelevant to the millions of people outside of the Christian faith.
A survey of 35,000+ adults conducted by The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey was released yesterday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Here are some of the conclusions:
•A new map of faith in the USA shows a nation constantly shifting amid religious choices, unaware or unconcerned with doctrinal distinctions. Unbelief is on the rise. And immigration is introducing new faces in the pews, new cultural concerns, new forces in the public square.
•There are as many self-proclaimed pagans (0.3%) as there are Disciples of Christ, Orthodox Jews or Greek Orthodox.
•”Nothing” matters: 12.1% say their religious identity is “nothing in particular,” outranking every denomination and tradition except Catholics (23.9%) and all groups of Baptists (17.2%).
•Nearly 20% of all men and 13% of all women are unaffiliated. So are 25% of adults under age 30.
•The major Christian denominations are losing numbers fast. Only non-denominational churches showed growth outpacing losses.
“Church historian Diana Butler Bass, a senior fellow at the Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. says, ‘these new voices mean you can’t do business as usual. There has to be an entire rethinking of how to do religion and what it means to be Christian in this new cultural context.'”
Go here for the entire article.
*This 44% number includes people who change denominations within Christianity, so it seems a bit higher than it should be since so many denominations are so similar.
Here are my conclusions:
This fluid faith can be good news! So many people are actually searching for something more than a set of moral guidelines or rules to follow. People aren’t looking for religion, but people are looking for meaning, significance, and community. We don’t need to “rethink how to do religion.” We need to stop doing religion all together!
If those of us who have genuinely connected with Jesus can live the kind of lives we are called to live and choose to love, serve, and share with those around us – a new movement will emerge. The fluid faith of our nation can become an ancient future faith!