Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

The Declining Influence of God

 by Michael Rowe


Tags: Spirituality, Religion Dispatches, Christianity, New Atheists, church attendance,

pews

Writing for Religion Dispatches about the debate between the Christian faithful and the so-called New Atheists, Davidson Loehr suggests that the “controversy” feels stale and uninteresting. He notes that the Christian church doesn’t represent a pivotal element in many American lives anymore:

Christine Wicker, author of The Fall of the Evangelical Nation, and David T. Stone, author of The American Church in Crisis, are among the authors citing research that shows a dismal picture of American religion:

• Christian churches are losing two million people a year.

• Between just 2000-2005, church attendance declined in all fifty states.

• No matter what people may tell pollsters about their church habits, when you count the bodies in the pews, fewer than 18% of Americans attend any church regularly; 82% don’t.

• When asked to rate eleven groups in terms of respect, non-Christians rated evangelicals tenth. Only prostitutes ranked lower. After the stories of hypocritical preachers and political moralists caught with paid lovers, it might be interesting to ask the prostitutes about that ranking.

Source: Religion Dispatches 

Image by eye2eye, licensed under Creative Commons.

joyce_2
7/20/2010 9:27:35 AM

"non-Christians rated evangelicals tenth" What about the rating of Christians as a general category? The media loves to play up the more negative aspects of every group including the religious. Hence the mention of "evangelicals", "religious right" almost daily. What about the every day believers and their Pastors who try to do what is good and right and get guidance through their faith? We are all hypocrites to some extent, but most of us try to follow the guidance of our belief systems as we understand them.


rodeen
6/14/2010 3:08:16 PM

CJ, hypocracy is not limited to Christianity although I agree there are a lot of Christians that are hypocrits.


cj_3
6/14/2010 11:53:50 AM

I think people are more educated, have traveled the world more and experienced other religions. with all the Christian hypocrites out there, no wonder people are turning against organized religion. One can be spiritual and ethical without religion. Organized Christian religion is for insecure people who do not want to admit their own immortality.


patrick _1
6/12/2010 8:04:59 AM

The information in these brief notes from Mr. Rowe don't of course tell the whole story. Science and theology both inform and mis-inform. Most theologians have failed however to tell the whole truth about God and Christ. We know better but have failed religious adherents throughout the ages.


rodeen
6/11/2010 5:01:23 PM

It depends what science you want to look at Shirley. It sounds like you have made up your mind that there is no God so you choose scinece that supports that. I believe in a creator so I suppose I am inclined to choose the science that can support intelligent design or the science that supports the unlikely mutation of mud into man.


shirley hodge
6/11/2010 4:43:12 PM

The decline in religion and adherents to same is simply the result of the development of rational, logical, empiracle thinking that modern science affords us. Mythology and superstition fail expotentially in the light of knowledge and truth.


rodeen
6/11/2010 3:27:36 PM

In previous generations a lot of people went to church because that is what you did on Sunday, not because the holy spirit stirred inside them a strong desire to worship there creator in fellowship with other Christians. My point is I beleive church goers are on the decline not Christians so much. I am also unsure how this data is compiled. We have over 2,500 at our church every week but only about 200 of those are official members.


evans pmcg
6/11/2010 2:24:45 PM

I think there's an element of private v. public religion that we're missing here. As more and more churches lose members, are these persons becoming less 'religious' and more 'spiritual,' but just in a more private matter. I feel that as a nation we have loss the meaning of community - we think community means hanging out with like-minded people to further our agenda, whatever it might be. What we have forgotten about is diversity in unity. As a Christian, I would love to celebrate our worship of the holy with other persons in community. I think (and hope) church and other faith gatherings will be different in the future - more welcoming and inclusive, where people may belong before they believe. Occum is right - no human really knows what's going on. That's why we need each other in our common pursuit of communion with the divine... whatever that looks like. There's a dynamism between the personal beliefs and the public discernment of faith, and THAT is what I feel is being lost with the decline of faith gatherings, Christian or not.


rodeen
6/11/2010 11:26:08 AM

<< Matthew 10:22 >>


dorrie_2
6/11/2010 10:33:21 AM

what it's all about is not that very many people reject the idea or the existence of "God" but that they have "come of age" so to speak and realize that fundamentalism and various kinds of social hazing in the name of religion have nothing to do with one's personal relationship to "God"...so people don't put a whole lot of store in "going to church" because they don't need to, not because they fear "god", in fact, probably because they love Him, but what they do find redundant is the hazing that goes on in the name of religion, and, thankfully, that has been "bred" out of many people who come from the "western" historical tradition because we (westerners) have dispensed with the idea that some human beings should be allowed to persecute other human beings who don't agree to toe the religious line (called separation of church and state in the UsA...a very modern and civilized idea). so "God" may not be irrelevant but church, fundamentalism and all that goes with it is. If there's any "fearing" to go on it is not of God but of other human beings who do violent and horrible suppressive things in the name of God. Include in those nasty things, things like denying a person full social participation if they "don't believe in god" or if they don't follow the rules set out and carried out by humans. It is never "God" who stones a woman to death or burns someone at the stake or puts someone in jail for saying the wrong thing, or: it is always human beings who do those nasty things


occum
6/11/2010 10:21:05 AM

In Matthew 10:22 was he refering to God or Yahweh? I find this to be a common path of discourse and an unfortunate misdirection when the debate over God's exsistence is broached. The arguement over whether Jesus was the Savior is not the same and references from the bible return to circular logic. The reality of it all is that no one walking this earth knows. They can beleive but they don't know and there is only one way to find out. I, for one, am happy with the way my life is going and have no need to create another possible one as back up. However, I understand the need to do so and to that end I leave it all be until I encounter someone who is compelled to get me into their "club."


rodeen
6/11/2010 9:46:15 AM

<< Matthew 10:22 >>