USA - Americans Leaving Religion

J. Froese

Only 47 percent of American adults said they were members of a church, mosque or synagogue, according to recently released polling that was conducted by Gallup throughout last year. It marked the first time that a majority of Americans said they were not members of a church, mosque or synagogue since Gallup first started asking Americans about their religious membership in the 1930s. Indeed, Gallup’s finding was a kind of watershed moment in the long-chronicled shift of Americans away from organized religion.

What’s driving this shift? In part, it’s about people who still identify with a religious tradition opting not to be a member of a particular congregation. Only 60 percent of Americans who consider themselves religious are part of a congregation, compared to 70 percent a decade ago, according to Gallup. But the bigger factor, Gallup said, is the surge of religiously unaffiliated Americans—people who are agnostics, atheists or simply say they are not affiliated with a religious tradition. The rise of this group—sometimes referred to as “nones” because they answer “none” when asked about their faith (and, you know, it’s a play on words)—isn’t new. But the Gallup survey is part of a growing body of new research on this bloc (that includes a recent book by one of us, Ryan’s “The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going”).

People are leaving mainline Protestant churches and Catholicism in particular.

There are about as many evangelicals (22 percent of American adults), Jewish Americans (2 percent), Black Protestants (6 percent) and members of smaller religions in the U.S. like Islam and Hinduism (6 percent) as there were a decade ago, according to GSS data. It’s really two groups in particular that are declining: mainline Protestants (think Episcopalians or Methodists) and Catholics. 

-fivethirtyeight.com, 16 April 2021

Commentary

We have reported on this trend numerous times now. It is important to realize that a decline of people responding “Christian” to a survey is not the same thing as a decline in actual, born-again, believing Christians. It simply shows that unbelievers from a Christian background no longer feel compelled to check the box for Christianity. If we are disheartened by news like this, we must ask ourselves why: are we concerned about the loss of influence of cultural Christianity in our society, rather than the individual souls of the lost?

The final paragraph notes, in fact, that the number of evangelicals (admittedly an imperfect proxy for born-again believers) is steady, and that the decline is mostly seen in the mainline Protestant and Catholic population. Remember, Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, let us not worry about demographic changes and the societal influence of nominal Christianity, but concentrate on spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). (By J. Froese)

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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