Bye Bye, Christians! Wait … Not So Fast

 

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.

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Front Seat Cat: Is the ‘American public becoming less religious? Yes’….says the latest research.

    OTOH, sometimes a rebirth comes after a long period of darkness.  There has always been an ebb and flow to faith.  I really didn’t think of myself as a Christian until probably my forties.  I don’t belong to any church (hard for me to sit still for a sermon), but I support the efforts of various churches and Christian charities in my area.

    Heck, I was even upset the Salvation Army bell-ringer wasn’t in front of WalMart when I was out shopping this morning . . .

    • #1
  2. Chris O. Coolidge
    Chris O.
    @ChrisO

    I can’t speak for others, but the denomination I am a member of has a local member church that spends more energy making sure everyone feels included than it seems to on religious worship. The word is for all, we are told, so let’s hear it.

    So, if asked whether I am a member of an “organized faith,” the answer is “no,” yet my wife and I discuss it often. My point is there may be others not centering their spirituality in a brick and mortar place of worship. Perhaps that isn’t the question and it refers to adherence to Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. in general.

    • #2
  3. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    There is nothing in ‘none’ culture. It is bereft of any meaning. Religion will fill that void. Though it might be the religion of secular socialism or left-wing paganism.

    • #3
  4. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    There is nothing in ‘none’ culture. It is bereft of any meaning. Religion will fill that void. Though it might be the religion of secular socialism or left-wing paganism.

    I feel like that’s already happening and has been for some time – and it will have far reaching consequences. I don’t think organized religion is so much the issue as nothing – no belief beyond themselves and this world.  Can you imagine?

    • #4
  5. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Front Seat Cat: Is the American public becoming less religious?

    We can only hope so.  

    But freedom of religion has meant that people are free to make their own religions, and people tend to make up a lot of them if they can.  So there is very little consistency among the religions and frankly little within them as well.  

    • #5
  6. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Faith can be good or bad depending on what someone has faith in.

    Some people have faith that infidels should be slain.  Other has faith that all people are part of the human family and that, therefore, we should have a policy of open borders.

    Some people have decided to disown their homosexual children based on their “faith.”

    For some people, “faith” is an excuse to belief in something without any evidence or justification.

    • #6
  7. KyleBauer Coolidge
    KyleBauer
    @KyleBauer

    Chris O. (View Comment):

    I can’t speak for others, but the denomination I am a member of has a local member church that spends more energy making sure everyone feels included than it seems to on religious worship. The word is for all, we are told, so let’s hear it.

    So, if asked whether I am a member of an “organized faith,” the answer is “no,” yet my wife and I discuss it often. My point is there may be others not centering their spirituality in a brick and mortar place of worship. Perhaps that isn’t the question and it refers to adherence to Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. in general.

    Chris,

    I cannot agree more with your comment about the difference in having faith and having faith in a church.  I recently attended a church where an excellent pastor left because they felt his wife did not participate enough even though she had a job that was providing most of the support to their family.  Church’s are run by humans which God has told us we are unworthy beings (myself included) so I put my faith in God rather than an organized church.

    • #7
  8. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat: Is the American public becoming less religious?

    We can only hope so.

    But freedom of religion has meant that people are free to make their own religions, and people tend to make up a lot of them if they can. So there is very little consistency among the religions and frankly little within them as well.

    I agree with your first statement @skyler, and the results speak for themselves among those age groups.  I don’t agree with your second statement – can you explain further?

    • #8
  9. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    KyleBauer (View Comment):

    Chris O. (View Comment):

    I can’t speak for others, but the denomination I am a member of has a local member church that spends more energy making sure everyone feels included than it seems to on religious worship. The word is for all, we are told, so let’s hear it.

    So, if asked whether I am a member of an “organized faith,” the answer is “no,” yet my wife and I discuss it often. My point is there may be others not centering their spirituality in a brick and mortar place of worship. Perhaps that isn’t the question and it refers to adherence to Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. in general.

    Chris,

    I cannot agree more with your comment about the difference in having faith and having faith in a church. I recently attended a church where an excellent pastor left because they felt his wife did not participate enough even though she had a job that was providing most of the support to their family. Church’s are run by humans which God has told us we are unworthy beings (myself included) so I put my faith in God rather than an organized church.

    It’s a shame when those doing the hard work are criticized, like the example you gave.  I’ve learned it’s exhausting being a pastor’s wife, and you are constantly under a microscope. Your spouse is supposed to be available 24/7 – very stressful.  My old neighbor was a minister’s wife and that’s what she went through. I don’t know how they do it.  All clergy and spouses need encouragement. 

    On another note, our constant information, constant entertainment world almost demands getting something – even from a church service. I remember at one church watching someone in front of me sipping coffee like he was at a conference.  I am not Catholic, but I find both the Catholic and Episcopalian services to be the most reverent. The focus is on the Cross – not being entertained.  Just sitting in those churches, even on off days, you can feel the Spirit. I’ve lit candles and said prayers for people and look up, seeing a tiny group of people just praying at the foot of the cross. I’m re-reading CS Lewis The Screwtape Letters – it’s a good reminder when I focus too much on myself and my problems. 

    • #9
  10. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat: Is the American public becoming less religious?

    We can only hope so.

    But freedom of religion has meant that people are free to make their own religions, and people tend to make up a lot of them if they can. So there is very little consistency among the religions and frankly little within them as well.

    I agree with your first statement @skyler, and the results speak for themselves among those age groups. I don’t agree with your second statement – can you explain further?

    I mean that many people call themselves “christian,” for example, but their specific theologies can diverge wildly from asceticism to Joel Osteen.  And then we have all sorts of non-christians or quasi christians, such as Scientologists and Mormons.

    • #10
  11. Tennessee Patriot Member
    Tennessee Patriot
    @TennesseePatriot

    I wish more of the Nones, and everyone, realized that Jesus was also anti-religion. Please listen to Timothy Keller’s sermon titled “Losing My Religion- Why Christians Should Drop Their Religion”.

    You can hear it in podcast form at iTunes – search for Dr. Timothy Keller. Out of  122 sermons it is number 121. I have listened to it many times.

    • #11
  12. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Faith can be good or bad depending on what someone has faith in.

    Some people have faith that infidels should be slain. Other has faith that all people are part of the human family and that, therefore, we should have a policy of open borders.

    Some people have decided to disown their homosexual children based on their “faith.”

    For some people, “faith” is an excuse to belief in something without any evidence or justification.

    Heavy – I hear what you are saying, and politics, and trends, and excuses seem to filter into even faith.  This leads to behavior that is anything but holy – it also sadly turns off a lot of people to knowing a loving and merciful God.  I guess it’s why sometimes it takes a lifetime to go full circle – with all the bruises, and find that mercy.

    • #12
  13. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Faith can be good or bad depending on what someone has faith in.

    Some people have faith that infidels should be slain. Other has faith that all people are part of the human family and that, therefore, we should have a policy of open borders.

    Some people have decided to disown their homosexual children based on their “faith.”

    For some people, “faith” is an excuse to belief in something without any evidence or justification.

    Heavy – I hear what you are saying, and politics, and trends, and excuses seem to filter into even faith. This leads to behavior that is anything but holy – it also sadly turns off a lot of people to knowing a loving and merciful God. I guess it’s why sometimes it takes a lifetime to go full circle – with all the bruises, and find that mercy.

    I speak from personal experience, to some extent.  

    A few years ago my wife started attending a mainline Presbyterian Church near where we live.  I knew that this church was affiliated with an organization that is Left of Center politically, supporting a boycott of Israel.  

    This local church seemed not terribly political, though the female pastor and her husband were die hard Democrats.  Only occasionally did Left-wing political views get inserted into Sunday sermons.  

    But then Trump got elected.  I attended the monthly board of Elders meeting (I was asked to be on the board of Elders even though I was very new to the church because it’s a small church).  It was the first such meeting after the Nov 2016 election.  They started discussing how perhaps the church needed to engage with the congregation about the issues we will be facing as a result of the election (like what?  Nuclear war?  Concentration camps?)

    Then we were told that we would, in the board of Elders’ meetings, be discussing a book titled, “Waking Up White,” a book that preaches white guilt.  

    A month or so later, at another board of Elders’ meeting, the husband of the pastor said that the church would be asking its members to write letters to Congress asking them to not cut any social welfare programs.  

    I wrote an email to the husband of the pastor and explained that I felt this was an unfortunately injection of politics into our church.  He responded that this was not politics but was social justice and that Jesus instructs us to always fight for social justice and to always help the poor.  (The book of Matthew: The Sheep and the Goats).

    So, that’s when I realized that I couldn’t really hide my atheism much longer.  I mean, I never really believed that the Bible was the word of God.  But I went to church because my wife wanted me to go with her and the people were nice. 

    Anyway.  That’s over.  My wife got tired of going for different reasons and we stopped.

     

    • #13
  14. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Faith can be good or bad depending on what someone has faith in.

    Some people have faith that infidels should be slain. Other has faith that all people are part of the human family and that, therefore, we should have a policy of open borders.

    Some people have decided to disown their homosexual children based on their “faith.”

    For some people, “faith” is an excuse to belief in something without any evidence or justification.

    Heavy – I hear what you are saying, and politics, and trends, and excuses seem to filter into even faith. This leads to behavior that is anything but holy – it also sadly turns off a lot of people to knowing a loving and merciful God. I guess it’s why sometimes it takes a lifetime to go full circle – with all the bruises, and find that mercy.

    I speak from personal experience, to some extent.

    I wrote an email to the husband of the pastor and explained that I felt this was an unfortunately injection of politics into our church. He responded that this was not politics but was social justice and that Jesus instructs us to always fight for social justice and to always help the poor. (The book of Matthew: The Sheep and the Goats).

    So, that’s when I realized that I couldn’t really hide my atheism much longer. I mean, I never really believed that the Bible was the word of God. But I went to church because my wife wanted me to go with her and the people were nice.

    Anyway. That’s over. My wife got tired of going for different reasons and we stopped.

    Wow! That is unbelievable!  Good for you for speaking up and walking out – that is just not right.  Don’t give up.  Find a place that you and your wife can go to just experience a quiet reverent service – nothing else.  Attend some holiday events – If you have questions about the Bible or anything, talk to a minister of a church that leaves politics out.  Social justice has become one big excuse word for pushing certain agendas that have nothing to do with faith.  

     

    • #14
  15. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Faith can be good or bad depending on what someone has faith in.

    Some people have faith that infidels should be slain. Other has faith that all people are part of the human family and that, therefore, we should have a policy of open borders.

    Some people have decided to disown their homosexual children based on their “faith.”

    For some people, “faith” is an excuse to belief in something without any evidence or justification.

    Heavy – I hear what you are saying, and politics, and trends, and excuses seem to filter into even faith. This leads to behavior that is anything but holy – it also sadly turns off a lot of people to knowing a loving and merciful God. I guess it’s why sometimes it takes a lifetime to go full circle – with all the bruises, and find that mercy.

    I speak from personal experience, to some extent.

    I wrote an email to the husband of the pastor and explained that I felt this was an unfortunately injection of politics into our church. He responded that this was not politics but was social justice and that Jesus instructs us to always fight for social justice and to always help the poor. (The book of Matthew: The Sheep and the Goats).

    So, that’s when I realized that I couldn’t really hide my atheism much longer. I mean, I never really believed that the Bible was the word of God. But I went to church because my wife wanted me to go with her and the people were nice.

    Anyway. That’s over. My wife got tired of going for different reasons and we stopped.

    Wow! That is unbelievable! Good for you for speaking up and walking out – that is just not right. Don’t give up. Find a place that you and your wife can go to just experience a quiet reverent service – nothing else. Attend some holiday events – If you have questions about the Bible or anything, talk to a minister of a church that leaves politics out. Social justice has become one big excuse word for pushing certain agendas that have nothing to do with faith.

    I’ve been doing some serious, intense Bible reading in the past few years.  I’ve been learning about what various New Testament scholars think regarding who wrote the various books of the Bible and why they Gospels disagree with each other on key events in Jesus’s life.  Fascinating.  

     

     

    • #15
  16. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Faith can be good or bad depending on what someone has faith in.

    Some people have faith that infidels should be slain. Other has faith that all people are part of the human family and that, therefore, we should have a policy of open borders.

    Some people have decided to disown their homosexual children based on their “faith.”

    For some people, “faith” is an excuse to belief in something without any evidence or justification.

    Heavy – I hear what you are saying, and politics, and trends, and excuses seem to filter into even faith. This leads to behavior that is anything but holy – it also sadly turns off a lot of people to knowing a loving and merciful God. I guess it’s why sometimes it takes a lifetime to go full circle – with all the bruises, and find that mercy.

    I speak from personal experience, to some extent.

    I wrote an email to the husband of the pastor and explained that I felt this was an unfortunately injection of politics into our church. He responded that this was not politics but was social justice and that Jesus instructs us to always fight for social justice and to always help the poor. (The book of Matthew: The Sheep and the Goats).

    So, that’s when I realized that I couldn’t really hide my atheism much longer. I mean, I never really believed that the Bible was the word of God. But I went to church because my wife wanted me to go with her and the people were nice.

    Anyway. That’s over. My wife got tired of going for different reasons and we stopped.

    Wow! That is unbelievable! Good for you for speaking up and walking out – that is just not right. Don’t give up. Find a place that you and your wife can go to just experience a quiet reverent service – nothing else. Attend some holiday events – If you have questions about the Bible or anything, talk to a minister of a church that leaves politics out. Social justice has become one big excuse word for pushing certain agendas that have nothing to do with faith.

    I’ve been doing some serious, intense Bible reading in the past few years. I’ve been learning about what various New Testament scholars think regarding who wrote the various books of the Bible and why they Gospels disagree with each other on key events in Jesus’s life. Fascinating.

    Good for you Heavy – would love to hear about it or even a post.

     

     

    • #16
  17. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Wow! That is unbelievable! Good for you for speaking up and walking out – that is just not right. Don’t give up. Find a place that you and your wife can go to just experience a quiet reverent service – nothing else. Attend some holiday events – If you have questions about the Bible or anything, talk to a minister of a church that leaves politics out. Social justice has become one big excuse word for pushing certain agendas that have nothing to do with faith.

    I’ve been doing some serious, intense Bible reading in the past few years. I’ve been learning about what various New Testament scholars think regarding who wrote the various books of the Bible and why they Gospels disagree with each other on key events in Jesus’s life. Fascinating.

    Good for you Heavy – would love to hear about it or even a post.

    I’d like to do a post summarizing what I have learned studying the Bible over the past year or so.  But there is so much content.  So, if I were to do such a post, I might just discuss one area of a part of the Bible.  For example, what are the differences between the stories of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion as described by the four Gospels?  Or how many of Jesus’s miracles are described in all four Gospels?  Which Gospels describe Jesus’s birth to Mary and Joseph?  Lots of interesting issues for atheists like me and religious believers too.  

     

    • #17
  18. Chris O. Coolidge
    Chris O.
    @ChrisO

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    For example, what are the differences between the stories of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion as described by the four Gospels? Or how many of Jesus’s miracles are described in all four Gospels? Which Gospels describe Jesus’s birth to Mary and Joseph? Lots of interesting issues for atheists like me and religious believers too.

    Sounds good to me. Not to pile on the writing assignments, but maybe a series of posts? I’ll just say if you want to share, there is an audience of at least a few on this thread. Thanks, HW.

    • #18
  19. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Chris O. (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    For example, what are the differences between the stories of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion as described by the four Gospels? Or how many of Jesus’s miracles are described in all four Gospels? Which Gospels describe Jesus’s birth to Mary and Joseph? Lots of interesting issues for atheists like me and religious believers too.

    Sounds good to me. Not to pile on the writing assignments, but maybe a series of posts? I’ll just say if you want to share, there is an audience of at least a few on this thread. Thanks, HW.

    I’ll have to get started.  

     

    • #19
  20. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Wow! That is unbelievable! Good for you for speaking up and walking out – that is just not right. Don’t give up. Find a place that you and your wife can go to just experience a quiet reverent service – nothing else. Attend some holiday events – If you have questions about the Bible or anything, talk to a minister of a church that leaves politics out. Social justice has become one big excuse word for pushing certain agendas that have nothing to do with faith.

    I’ve been doing some serious, intense Bible reading in the past few years. I’ve been learning about what various New Testament scholars think regarding who wrote the various books of the Bible and why they Gospels disagree with each other on key events in Jesus’s life. Fascinating.

    Good for you Heavy – would love to hear about it or even a post.

    I’d like to do a post summarizing what I have learned studying the Bible over the past year or so. But there is so much content. So, if I were to do such a post, I might just discuss one area of a part of the Bible. For example, what are the differences between the stories of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion as described by the four Gospels? Or how many of Jesus’s miracles are described in all four Gospels? Which Gospels describe Jesus’s birth to Mary and Joseph? Lots of interesting issues for atheists like me and religious believers too.

    Go for it – I’d love to read it.

     

    • #20

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