12) The Backpage: America Becoming Less Christian? … Or Not?

I read with interest the CNN story about the survey conducted (for the 3rd time in as many decades) regarding religious claimants in the USA. The title, “America becoming less Christian, survey finds,” is one of those comments that should give us pause. That all depends — on “which Christian” one is describing. While it’s true that the survey found that adherents to “mainline” congregations such as the Episcopal or Lutheran churches had fallen, the same survey also indicated that adherents to Roman Catholicism had remained stable and, surprisingly, members of “megachurches” had “skyrocketed from less than 200,000 in 1990 to more than 8 million in the latest survey” (conducted between Feb. and Nov. 2008). That change doesn’t sound quite like the summary CNN offered. A certain William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, was quoted as saying that he thinks “a radical shift towards individualism over the last quarter-century has a lot to do it.” Hmmm. It would seem to me that if a stream of Christianity grew from 200,000 to 8 million in the space of just 20 years, that works out to an average annual increase of more than 20% per *year*. I would have been thrilled if it were 10% growth per *decade*. What’s more, while it might be true that 1 in 5 now claims no religious identity, the truth is that 1 out of 3 claim to be an evangelical Christian, up from 1 out of 4 just 30 years ago.

If I were to re-write the summary for CNN, the title I would propose would be, “America becoming more evangelical,” and the text would include some personal testimonies of adherents that have found peace in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. That peace and faith might go a long way toward giving the world some hope in today’s troubling economic times.

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Your comments on the growth of evangelicals in your own country? Your own thoughts on the “state of the evangelical church” in general? Any thoughts on how this impacts missionary sending? … or the theological underpinnings of missions in general? If so, just log on and click “Comment”

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