“Faith of Our Fathers, Living Still…”: Baylor University Study Finds Christianity Thriving

th (48)According to a report published at ChristianPost.com, the death of Christianity in America has been greatly exaggerated.

WASHINGTON — Distinguished scholars from Baylor University on Tuesday decried the myth that religion is on the decline in America and argued that it’s actually growing and is stronger than ever.

Professors from Baylor University’s Institute for Religion Studies in Waco, Texas, participated in a panel discussion at the National Press Club focusing on the “secularization myth,” where they lambasted the media’s spin on various surveys which has led many to believe that irreligion is on the rise in the United States.

Even though surveys have found there to be a rise in individuals who don’t identify with a particular religion or denomination (“nones”) and a decline in church membership for many Mainline denominations, the panelists agreed that those results don’t mean that religion is on its deathbed or that atheism is on the rise.

Byron Johnson, a professor of social sciences and the founding director of the Institute for Religion Studies, explained that survey results are often misrepresented in the media. He quoted a study done by Pew Research, which found that 44 percent of Americans have left the particular faith affiliation in which they were raised.

“There wasn’t one media account from that good study that said this is a good thing. This was also thrown in this huge bucket of bad news that was thrown out there. We look at that study and say that is a phenomenal thing that people would switch churches,” Johnson explained. “We see this is a measure of vitality and health and others are interpreting it is an abandoning of the faith, just because I think they read something into the data that wasn’t there or they misinterpreted the data.”

J. Gordon Melton, professor of American religious history, explained that although Mainline denominations have lost membership in recent years, the number of denominations in America has increased steadily since the 1960s. Now, there are over 1,000 denominations in the U.S.

Melton cited the Encyclopedia of American Religion and the 2010 American Religious Census to show that, as the American population has risen, church membership in America has risen at a much quicker rate.

“While some churches have lost membership over the last 65 years, simultaneously, hundreds of new denominations have been founded, and while population has more than doubled, church membership has more than quadrupled,” Melton wrote in his powerpoint presentation. “It is still in an upward trajectory.”

According to the data, 81 percent of people throughout the world claim to belong to an organized faith, and many of the rest said they attend worship services. Seventy-four percent of the world’s population said religion is an important part of their daily lives, while 50 percent said they attended a place of worship in the past seven days.

Stark points out that very few nations have as much as 5 percent of the population claiming to be atheist. China, Vietnam, and South Korea are the only countries where atheism exceeds 20 percent.

“All of the great world religions are growing and contrary to uninformed accounts, Christianity is growing faster than any of the others,” Stark wrote, according to Johnson. “But the larger point is that we are now in the 21st century, contrary to [historical claims of the religion’s demise], the world is far more religious than it was a century ago, and quite possibly, it is more religious than it has ever been.”

Much of the discussion was on the phenomenon of the rise of the religious nones. Although many media outlets have assumed that nones are similar to an atheist mindset, Johnson explained that is because many journalists “don’t know the difference between good research and bad research.”

Johnson examined an ARIS survey, which asked respondents “What religion are you?” Although the survey has found that more people today are answering “none” or not indicating their religion, a lot is left up to interpretation as to what the result really means.

Johnson said that in order to better gauge the religiosity of the population, a more in depth religious identification process is needed in surveys. Johnson and Baylor conducted their own survey, where they gave respondents a table of options to chose from with different  religious denominations and faiths they could select.

Johnson explained that 30.8 percent of the respondents who answered “don’t know” were able to provide the name of their house of worship and an address to the house of worship when asked a few questions later.

Additionally, 10 percent of those who said they had “no religion,” were also able to give the name of their house of worship.

“They put no religion and then they give us a name of a denomination and they are familiar enough with it to give us an address. We actually checked out some of those addresses and found out that a lot of them attend Evangelical non-denominational churches,” Johnson said. “When you look at the nones, it is a complicated thing for sure. It is not what everyone is being led to believe. The religious landscape of America is a complicated one.”

Melton asserted that just because respondents answered “no religion” or “none” doesn’t not mean that they are not spiritual or lacking in faith.

“Are ‘nones’ to be equated with irreligious? We have seen the ‘nones’ being identified most strongly with non-believers, we have seen the ‘nones,’ regularly, in 80 percent of the articles that come out, ‘nones’ have been equated with the irreligious,” Melton said. “That’s not the case. We have a large segment of the ‘nones’ who are atheists and irreligious, but we have a large segment that fall into spiritual but not religious category. … The largest group are ones who say Christianity is not a religion.”

Thomas Kidd, a Baylor history professor, agreed that the increase in the amount of nones could likely be due to the increase in Christians who no longer feel they need to socially identify their faith as a religion. But that doesn’t mean that atheism is increasing in American society.

“It turns out the group of people who are self-professed atheists are significant but holding steady at a really low percentage,” Kidd told CP. “I think that if it was the case that there was a massive surge of atheism, I think that a lot of the media has decided that is not only the most click-worthy type of story, but it would be a historic change of unprecedented significance if it was true.”

“I have had to tell reporters that ‘nones’ does not mean atheists,” Kidd, who formerly wrote for World magazine, added. “People who are reporting on religion have to be helped along to the texture, but texture doesn’t work well in short news reports.”

For what now seems like an eternity, those on the Left side of Political Aisle, have focused their attention on “radically changing” America.

They soon realized that they simply could not do it through popular culture and educational indoctrination, inundating America’s children with both overt and subliminal imaging designed to countermand the Traditional American Values that they were being raised with, in normal American Households, out here in “Flyover Country”, otherwise known as America’s Heartland…or “the Red States”.

Modern Liberals soon figured out that the way to program Americans into believing that “all paths lead to God” and that cradle-to-grave Nanny-State Government were the new American Standards for living our daily lives, was to turn Christian American Houses of Worship away from being instructors of the Word of God and a sanctuary in which to worship Our Creator, to, instead, being purveyors of the joys of Popular Culture. Wednesday Night Bible Studies were soon replaced by Yoga Classes and Encounter Groups. Religious Leaders were soon quoting philosophy, instead of the Bible in their Sunday Morning Sermons.

And, instead of taking a stand against those things of the world which were directly opposed to what is found in God’s Word, these “new, enlightened” churches started standing up for the “right” of a woman to have her baby prematurely yanked out of her womb with a set of tongs, standing up for the right of Adam to “marry” Steve, when the Bible states that marriage is between a man and a woman, and standing up for the equality of all faiths, when the Son of God firmly states, in John 14:6, that

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

So, when  as all this Christianity in America going to “fade away” as predicted by “the Smartest People in the Room”?

As this report shows…not any time soon.

Being filled with human beings, churches have made a lot of mistakes, However, they have also done a lot of good in the name of the Lord.

For example, the church I attend, houses a Food Pantry, operated in co-operation with other churches in our area, which feeds 2,000 people per month, counseling them, and getting them the assistance that they need.

Churches today have to walk a fine line.

The spiritual battle the influence of American Popular Culture and those seeking the Will of God in their lives, takes all the strength…and prayer, that Christians can muster.

Modern Liberals seem to have great difficulty comprehending the role which Our Creator, the God of Abraham, played and plays in this Grand Experiment, known as the United States of America.

Why have Liberals ratcheted up their anti-Christian Vitriol and Negativity since January 21, 2009?

Why are they so focused on removing America’s Christian Heritage?

Well, as is usually my wont, I have been doing some “reckoning” about this.

It seems to this ol’ Southern Boy, living here in the Heartland, that America’s Christian Heritage and the very real fact of His influence in building and shaping America’s growth into the greatest country on the face of God’s Green Earth, not only stifles and interferes with Modern Liberals’ “anything goes”, “share the wealth”, “hive-mind”, “man is his own god” Political Ideology, but the reality of God’s very existence, somewhere deep in their miserable, bitter psyches, scares the mess out of them.

Why else would they be trying so hard to fight against the influence of Someone Whom they really don’t believe in?

I see them every single day on the television, on the Internet, on Facebook Political Pages, posting stupid meme (a picture with words on it) after stupid meme, attempting to make fun of The Great I Am and those of us who have given our lives to Him.

They are so hateful, and filled with such bitterness, that it is difficult to engage them in “conversation”.

Perhaps, somewhere in their back of their minds, all of these Modern American Liberals, realize that they are fighting a losing battle.

Christianity continues to thrive in America, despite their best efforts.

America was built upon a Solid Rock.

To ignore our nation’s Faith-Based Founding and Heritage is to live in purposeful ignorance.

As President Ronald Reagan said,

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

And, as Hebrews 13:8 tells us,

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Regardless of the Political Machinations of Modern American Liberals, God will have the final word.

He always does.

Until He Comes,

KJ

 

 

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