Monday, February 22, 2010

Is Christianity Dying? Interesting New Data...

Is Christianity dying?  Are all religions losing adherents?  Here is something new I'd never considered before.

As a percentage of the whole population, the Christian population is losing, but the trend is slow.  The last time I wrote about this, Christians looking at the data could argue that the loss wasn't very important.  So what if Christianity is down a few percent?  A little proselytizing, a few revival meetings, and they'd be right back on top.

But it turns out it's much worse for the Christians than they thought.

A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that among "millenials" – those born after 1980 who became adults after 2000 – twenty five percent, one quarter of them, are not affiliated with any religion.

That's double the number of non-religious compared to the older generation!

And since religious beliefs are one the most constant aspects of personality, thirty years down the road when these young people are running the country, they'll still be non-Christian, non religious.  And that generation's children will be even less religious.

I'm reminded of what happens to immigrants and their "mother tongue" when they come to America.  The grandparents who immigrated still speak their native Italian, Spanish, German, Polish, and so on.  Their kids learn English pretty well, but also speak their parents' language because that's what's spoken at home.  But the grandchildren, the second generation, almost never learn the family's native tongue fluently, and often not at all.  By the third generation, it's gone.

Sometimes statistics can hide what's really going on.  Surveys that report on the overall trend of religious in America are burying the true trend by averaging young and old.  But when you break it down by age group, it's obvious that Christianity, and religion in general, is on the way out.

59 comments:

  1. Hooray for reasonability.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I accept that Christianity is declining.

    However, you're hanging this conclusion on the assumption that, statistically, young people are very unlikely to turn to religon as they age. I disagree. It's quite common for someone to start practicing religon because of their spouse after marriage, or because of their children, or just because they're aging.

    Think of the hippy generation that certainly didn't stay hippys or new-age in the same concentration as when they were young.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are making a terrible assumption in saying that people who are not affiliated with a religion now will still be unaffiliated when they get older. People almost always explore when they are 18-30 years old (has been the case for probably hundreds of years), but that does not mean many of them will not return to a religion later in life.

    I am not saying that Christianity is not losing adherents, but I am arguing that the religion is not "on the way out."

    ReplyDelete
  4. For context, you need to compare this data to similar data from previous generations. It is a possibility that people return to religious beliefs as they age.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dude this sounds really good to me man! Well done yo.

    Jess
    www.online-anonymity.vze.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. To what extent does this extend globally?

    ReplyDelete
  7. People who really do not believe, will not start believing later, not possilbe, whishfull thinking. Only a few people in dire straits (drugs or worse)or with a very low self esteem,. start believing, but this is a minority, most of these might also turn to Islam or other faiths.

    Also look at Europe where this process is much further down the road.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you support this statement with any evidence? Or did you just make this up? I can think of plenty of people who did exactly what you said doesn't happen. I suppose I think non-Christianity is a popular fad these days. This has happened plenty of times before historically, and does not worry me in the slightest. Remember, people are generally dumb and will follow the example of cultural icons. Unfortunately right now our cultural icons are not religious, and tend to be morally bankrupt. This happened in the 18th century. All that resulted in was a religious revival in the early 19th century. In the early 20th century, Christianity became incredibly unpopular in Russia, and then it became illegal after the Revolution. Look at the statistics now.

      Delete
  8. Exactly, as Bill Maher pointed out in his movie, you find a lot of Jesus believers in prison. Non-belief is a sort of luxury; the more people who lead lives of non-duress, the more the relevance of religion will decline.
    Religion is comfort for those in terrible circumstances. They'd be better off listening to Great Gig In The Sky for some uplifting.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We can only pray that this report is accurate.

    ReplyDelete
  10. So the sheeple are waking up?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it any different to follow cultural icons? I came to Christianity through serious study, not because of my upbringing. It is actually pretty liberating. I think that people leaving Christianity now are sheeple,and will probably return. This has happened plenty of times historically. I see no difference between this time and the 18th century for example.

      Delete
    2. Its odd that you came to Christianity through serious study, I left Christianity because of serious study..

      Delete
  11. Of course this is the case. We know they're lying to us about our origins - why trust them to tell us where we're going after we pass?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May I ask how anyone is lying about our origins?

      Delete
  12. Yeah the big theory in sociology was always that as we became more industrialized and sophisticated religion would gradually die off ... as we began to understand weather and modern medicine and evolution, we would realize that science had all the answers and religion had none...

    ... strangely that never happened. People in the most industrialized countries on earth are more religious than ever. Additionally there are more christians in Africa and S. Korea than anywhere in the world.

    The spiritual bankruptcy of the industrialized soul actually cries out for God.

    Oops.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This ... is news to you?

    All nonsense about people turning to religion as they get older aside (people turn away from religion with life experience much more readily than to it), this effect has been known for more than 200 years.

    The prevalence of religion is studied into demographic bands, and every single demographic band is in significant religious decline. Pew is very, very late to the game here.

    There's a reason congregations are shrinking while the elderly population grows, and it's not because people turn to God late in life. It is, however, the same reason that young people are significantly over-expressed in religious settings.

    That reason is simple: people grow out of their childhoods and stop believing in silly fantasies. One of those silly fantasies is that people who say things about "blah blah old age" are arguing anything, let alone against the data that's so easily found, by just assuming things and inventing metaphor-driven positions without data of any kind.

    But, then, religious people are used to accepting stories without facts, so I guess we can't blame them that they think that's compelling in discussion, can we?

    It's sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the data is so easily found, please supply it. I am inclined to agree with you that Christianity is in a decline, but I hardly think this is a permanent trend. Believe me, Christianity has taken worse hits than this in the past. I simply don't understand why you want this to happen. Sure, you don't believe, and that's unfortunate, but fine. I could supply you with literary evidence for Christianity all day, but it would do no good. Belief ultimately takes a leap of faith. I do not doubt that you will come to see that one day, but there is nothing I can do about it. My question is this: why do you want to ruin it for everyone else?

      Delete
  14. Atheists are like scientologists who don't believe in aliens .... LOL
    If they cannot quantify it, it doesn't exist.
    U are short sighted biggots, the
    Christians of the next generations ...

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm happy to see that more and more people are taking their lives into their own hands instead of following the preachings of any specific religion. As long as morals and ethics are taught by family and in the community (be nice to others, do unto others as they would do unto you, ect) then I don't see a reason for any religions to remain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why, then, do you see religion as a negative. It's bad to have a system of beliefs that keep people to a certain moral standard? And let's not forget that the "morals" of the modern world are hardly good for society.

      Delete
  16. Who needs religion when we have 'culture' ?

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are so wrong. It's not dying, those people are still going to church, just they now call it the republican party.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Donovan's got the right idea

    ReplyDelete
  19. Uh "Athiests are like scientologist who don't believe in aliens" . . . Hmmm, I believe that is a paradox for ya.
    Scientologist believe (more or less) that human existence is based off some alien reason ,requiring a belief in aliens. So by saying "scientoligst who doesn't believe in aliens", you are referring to something that doesn't exist. So you are saying Athiest are like something that doesn't exist.
    Next point, you say "If [Athiest] cannot quantify it, it doesn't exist". Most athiest will tell you that is completely wrong. I'll revise for you. "If [Athiest] cannot quantify it, then they don't know and, more importantly, can't prove anything about it, including its state of existence."

    ReplyDelete
  20. Comment above is intended for Anonymous 6 above the post.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As a atheist a can see numerous forces working around the clock to destroy christianity, and you do nothing, you fucking fools deserve to be wiped out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What should we be doing? More importantly, why are you so full of hatred? I guess I understand, all the biggest mass murderers of the past 100 years have been atheists. We are much older and bigger than you thing. Our collective memory remembers being persecuted by Romans, being persecuted by the Turks, or how about the Communists? The Church thrives on the blood of the martyrs.

      Delete
    2. What about 9/11?

      Delete
  22. I've heard this is true in the US, but that Christianity is rising rapidly in countries like China and Africa. Even the Middle East is showing growth. I've been told Christianity is growing at a faster rate than ever before in history. Thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its true. I come from possibly the only denomination that is actually growing in Europe, and our growth is going faster in the Middle East now than it has since the Muslim conquests. The Orthodox Church is actually growing. That's why I find these articles to be pretty funny.

      Delete
  23. Why focus on Christianity? What are the rates of decline/growth for other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Muslim, etc.? From what I recently read, Mormons are growing (partially due to their policy of breeding like rabbits).

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is interesting, and I also believe this to be true. Very, very VERY true.

    Think of it, the internet has grown to be huge. Everyone can read everyone's ideas and opinions. No stone left unturned. Who, equipped with a healthy brain, would choose to believe in a god and a heaven and hell, and all the twisted, supernatural, superstitious stories?

    The statistic can't even take into account yet the developments after the year 2000. In 2030 we'll be looking at a minority of religious people. I say let it die in peace.

    ReplyDelete
  25. We are represented by crazy, obnoxious, right-wingers and have been for a long time. It makes sense. On behalf of Christianity I apologize both for them and for myself when we don't love like we should and speak out of place. I know this doesn't mean much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is very Christian of you, but I will say one thing. We do not need to stand idly by while our religion dies. Sure, if we are persecuted, turn the other cheek, but we do still have to be faithful to God's call to make apostles of all the nations.

      Delete
  26. Interesting that Christianity is in decline in America at the same time that in many other ways the nation as a whole is in decline. On the other hand, Christianity is on the rise in China, Africa and other parts of the world. The decline of religion in America, which atheists take as hopeful, is really just another foundation stone crumbling before the whole building comes down.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-jesus-1-1-webjun22,0,2458211.story

    http://pewforum.org/events/?EventID=71

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your point about Christianity rising in China is moot. Seeing how the Chinese do what Christians frown upon... stealing. They still American intellectual property. On the other hand China is almost a mirror image to Christianity, they lie to their followers/citizens and take away their human rights.

      I believe everybody should believe what they want and not allow others to dictate that.

      Delete
  27. Anon wrote: "The decline of religion in America, which atheists take as hopeful, is really just another foundation stone crumbling before the whole building comes down."

    That just doesn't match the facts. Atheism is rampant in the most modern countries in the world. Germany has something like 70% (that's right, the MAJORITY of Germans are atheists). Other European countries like France, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and even Italy and Spain, have huge numbers of atheists.

    The result? These countries have better economies, lower crime rates, less poverty, better education (especially in the sciences) ... on and on. The examples you give of China, Africa and so forth, are "on the rise" only because European colonialism enslaved them, forced them to grow opium, stole their copper, gold, crops, and fish. It's only now that we've stopped raping these countries, now that we're finally leaving these countries alone, that they're "on the rise."

    Ironically, it was Christianity, especially the Calvanistic branches, that justified this rape and enslavement. So don't try to convince us that the rise of Christianity in these countries has anything to do with their success.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Christianity + Muslim + Zionism = Axis of Evil Against Mankind

    There is not one redeeming quality in any of these three religions safe the fantastic nature of their stories. THIS is why Jews control Hollywood and the media, they have a knack for telling incredibly great bullshit stories and unwititngly making slaves of so many humans.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Asia is the "NEW" New World and will dominate America the same way we did Europe during the 19th century. China may even have to undergo a cultural and civil war again the same way we did in the 1860's but emerge more the power than before. The USA is a great country, no doubts, but there are new ways of doing things that are undermining our ability to compete and maintain social harmony. You cannot have 30-50 million unemployed Americans and not have civil unrest, civil strife, and mob mentalities. Caveat Emptor on the Kool-Aid...

    ReplyDelete
  30. Religion is Fools Gold for the Soul.

    If all those in the priesthood and missionaries simply decided to seek legitimate service in legitimate NGO's, like the Peace Corps, the world would be a much better place. Christianity is nothing more than daylight robbery of those with the least to lose.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Religion is losing people because it has become irrelevant.

    It is not appealing to the people.

    People are beginning to believe that religion does not mean spirituality.

    Maybe people are becoming more spiritual because they are losing man-made, organized, spoon fed, god-fearing, guilt inducing, intolerant promoting religion.

    I think the world would be a better place.

    ReplyDelete
  32. To everyone who thinks the younger generation will turn to religion is forgetting what my generation has seen. We have seen the leaders of these churches lie, steal, sexually abuse children, cover up scandals and meddle in the polical process with damning results. This generation is not stupid, in fact we have access to more information than was immaginable even 10 years ago. You cannot come to someone in my generation with hyped-up crap that cannot be proven and expect them to swallow it.

    We are not going to believe the crap as we age, the ones who are currently affiliated with religion will be breaking away as they get older, mark my words. This generation wants nothing to do with the institutions that have caused this once great countries decline.

    I am in this generation, the people who are holding on to religion barely care about it and usually make fun of it as the dinosaur their parents make them worship.

    Your god is dead, and we couldn't be happier :)

    Peace!

    ReplyDelete
  33. "Religion is losing people because it has become irrelevant. It is not appealing to the people."

    On the contrary, Americans are actually more religious than ever:
    http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

    The theory was always that as we became more industrialized / sophisticated we would shed these silly ideas about religion. The exact opposite has actually happened.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Andrew – I'm baffled by your claim. The Pew report shows exactly the opposite.

    ReplyDelete
  35. 78.4% of Americans identifying with some kind of christianity? I'd hardly say christianity in particular is waning

    ReplyDelete
  36. I like it when people like Andrew provide us with a snapshot of the problem and think we see a motion picture.

    I just wanted to say that I have perceived (this is NOT a hard statistic) that my friends have a great deal of "spirituality" and "beliefs" but they are reticent to align with any religion. A decrease in organized religion may be paired with an increase in self controlled beliefs.

    I have one friend who believes in Karma, but nothing else from the Buddhist faith. When I asked him why he said "I just choose to believe because I like to believe it."

    I have another friend who believes in a continual life force, his description was vivid and not based on any moral stance whatsoever. This trend is growing, but probably not as fast as atheism.

    Let me reiterate, just an observation of my own personal friends, NOT STATISTICS.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Go to cfni.com and read about the generation of Benjamin and read for yourself and see what you think, its pretty interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Anon - That's an invalid domain. Do you have a correct URL?

    ReplyDelete
  39. Religion isn't dying, people in the world are just changing for the worst. We use to be morally "good" people, helping others and caring about neighbors. Now we are a very greedy, very materialistic, very self centered people who only care about ourselfs than anyone else.

    The only thing people care about these days are how to get thier pocket full of cash and how to get as much sex without having a child. We as a people are just declining into morally corrupt idiots who only care about sex, food, money and entertainment.

    The movie Idiocracy has become more of a prediction movie than a comedy. Actually watch the movie and you'll see why it's so true in modern times.

    In todays time, athiesm has became a popular fad among teens and younger people. They strongly beleive in evolution and barely any of them understand evolution as a whole. The only thing they say is that man evolved from apes. According to several census, 55% of atheist are below the age of 35 while only a mere 30% are above 50.

    It's getting late, but let me state commen sense. It's common for a person to lose thier faith at one point in time of thier life. It's happens, with the way people are acting and behaving today how can you blame them.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm in my early 30's and I am a believer in Jesus (the trinity). I stand firm in my beliefs. Those who turn away from God never had a relationship with God.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Anon -- nonsense. You're trying to redefine the word "Christian" to something new, which allows you to say that anyone who doesn't meet your new definition isn't really Christian. I know LOTS of people who were devout Christians. It's an insult to their intelligence and dishonest to say that "those who turn away from God never had a relationship with God." My friends believed as fervently as you do now that they had a deep, personal relationship. They prayed, they converted others, and (at that time) never doubted their commitment to God.

    You can't just redefine words like "relationship" or "commitment" to conveniently exclude everyone who doesn't agree with you.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Religion focuses on old concepts and text that were written forever ago. The scientific theory is based on asking new questions about the world and life on earth and then proving or disproving them. Science has and will continue to bring us into the future, where as religion tries to tie people to the ways of the past.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I wish I could live long enough to see the death of religion in America to the degree that it has happened in Europe. We would all be better off without it. It no longer has any socially redeeming value.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Christians failing to actually practice their religion and do good and not evil, is what is killing Christianity and nothing else.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Anon – You are blind to reality. The reasons Christianity is dying have nothing to do with Christian's failing to practice their religion. You've got cause and effect mixed up. Christians aren't practicing Christianity because they are figuring out that it's full of empty promises. At the risk of sounding self serving, you should buy my new book, Is Christianity Dying, which is a collection of the best essays from these blogs over the last four years. Read that, and then come back here and we can debate it.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Religion is not dying in Europe. I know missionaries and of growing churches in Europe, specifically Poland and the Ukraine. God is doing amazing things in those places. And what someone said about non-belief being a luxury, that is true. Just wait for the economic disaster that the nations are trying to avoid these days. Faith will become a part of life again.
    "Grass withers and flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." If the practiced religion of Christianity dies, as compared to the truly powerful relationship with Christ, for a while, God's word will remain strong. Humans are designed to believe in something they can't see.
    And there are movements towards Christ on secular public university campuses. But it's not by human effort, it's totally the Holy Spirit at work. So pray for revival and awakening in this generation.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Anon – you're simply wrong. Christianity is dying in Europe. That's a fact, plain and simple.

    ReplyDelete

Dear readers -- I am no longer blogging and after leaving these blogs open for two years have finally stopped accepting comments due to spammers. Thanks for your interest. If you'd like to write to me, click on the "Contact" link at the top. Thanks! -- CJ.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.