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Is the American public becoming less religious? “Yes,” says the latest research.
Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, a poll making headlines across cable networks (love those) said mainly the new generations — Millennials and Snowflakes — are rejecting the Christian faith. It was reported that they rated the importance of faith around 20 percent, with money, success, and family at the top. Was this a misleading headline? Let’s look further…
From the Pew Research Center: “The Pew Research Center study also finds a great deal of stability in the U.S. religious landscape. The recent decrease in religious beliefs and behaviors is largely attributable to the “nones” – the growing minority of Americans, particularly in the Millennial generation, who say they do not belong to any organized faith.”
This headline coincided, or should I say, head-butted, straight into other events across the United States over the past few months. I’ll start with the Florida Panhandle:
Twenty minutes east of me, some homes and businesses were destroyed. Go farther than that, into Panama City and beyond, many (most) homes and businesses destroyed, Tyndall Air Force Base devastated, thousands and thousands of massive trees piled up like mountains, families displaced, tent cities in parking lots, a world of hurt across a still beautiful stretch of beach, with pure white soft sand and turquoise seas.
Within 40 hours of Hurricane Michael, Christians were mobilized. Every local church, every denomination went into overdrive. No one waited for a green light, or FEMA, or local government. Trucks on the road, hauling food, generators, fuel, water, and other essentials into the war zone. Red Cross, Salvation Army, both Christian organizations were on foot. I saw it with my own eyes — receiving texts asking for supplies from churches nearby. I dropped them off as fast as I could gather and bought more.
President Trump, along with Governor (now Senator-elect) Scott helped out and organized relief immediately. Local landscapers poured into the neighborhoods they could reach, cutting down trees, many free of charge, tarping roofs, cooking meals. This is the Judeo-Christian America that is supposed to be waning.
During the mid-term elections, I received prayer requests from local churches on my phone. Granted this is the Bible Belt, but it happened. A Catholic client from Dallas said she was stationed in front of her TV the night of the elections with a rosary — so was I. Don’t write off the power of prayer. And don’t mess with the Catholics.
This past week, I came across a link to our Founders who repeatedly asked for a “National day of Prayer and Fasting”, one of which is our holiday of “Thanks-Giving,” but when hard times called for it, other days of the year were designated a day of prayer and fasting when needed for our country. These requests came from George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and others (PDF).
Are we passing the faith on to our children? Are we passing on our history, the story of the pilgrims, that religious freedom was the reason they sought the New World, and how our country, through long and painful birth pangs, was finally born? How can they navigate this world without it? What does it mean to be a person of faith in 2018?
Ask someone in China. Thirty-seven thousand Christians arrested in 2017, churches burned, Bibles destroyed. Yet they walk for miles and fill the churches, knowing their faces and identities are being recorded by authorities.
As we enter the holy season of Christmas and Hanukkah, there is no silencing the faithful.
The news showed a large gathering under a tent, being served prepared meals who were displaced from the devastating California fires. One woman weeped. She said she would remember this moment for the rest of her life. Because of the fires, the interviewer asked? No, she said, the outpouring of love and help from fellow citizens was overwhelming. Our country has suffered so much tragedy this year, yet faith remains.
They showed firefighters and law enforcement, who came off duty battling the fires, to serve food to those who have lost everything. One firefighter said he was honored to do it. An opportunity to show God’s grace, because the Spirit is within, not in a building. No, there is no crisis of faith in America, just the opposite.