Posts Tagged ‘Christian America’

The USA’s Christian majority is shrinking

May 13, 2015

PF_15.05.05_RLS2_1_310pxAlthough there are more avowed Christians in the United States than in any other country, the U.S. Christian majority in the United States is shrinking, Pew Research Center reports.

About 5 million fewer Americans identified themselves as Christians in 2014 than in 2007, and the percentage of self-identified Christians declined by nearly 8 percentage points.

The decline was most noticeable in the Millennial generation—those born in the period from 1981 to 1996.   Only 56 percent of this group identified themselves as Christian in Pew’s 2014 poll.

Evangelical Protestants are the strongest segment of American Christianity.  They grew in absolute numbers from 2007 and 2014, and declined only slightly as a percentage of the U.S. population.

But they are growing at a less rapid rate that the religiously unaffiliated.  And growth in that segment comes from the “nothing in particular” group, not the avowed atheists or agnostics.   I suppose this includes a lot of people who say they are spiritual, but not religious.

I don’t claim to know why this is so.

I can think of possible reasons.  One is the sexual revolution and the decline in the belief that marriage is a sacrament received through a church wedding.  Another is the growing awareness that scientific belief is incompatible with the literal belief in the Bible.  A third is the identification of Christianity in the public mind with conservative politics.  The so-called religious right, which is strongest among evangelical Protestants, is a backlash against these trends.

I would be interested in your thoughts.

For the full Pew report, click on America’s Changing Religious Landscape.

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Is the United States a Christian nation?

July 7, 2011

What is the definition of “Christian nation?”

The United States is a Christian nation in the sense that a majority of Americans are Christians, in the sense that United States is a country in which the Christian religion flourishes, in the sense that the United States is part of Western civilization, which is rooted in Christianity, the Bible and the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome.

But the United States is not a Christian nation in the sense that Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan are Muslim nations, Israel is a Jewish nation and the Dalai Lama’s Tibet was a Buddhist nation.  There is no religious test for American citizenship.

Declaration and Constitution don't mention Jesus

On this question, as in other things, we can look to our differing but complementary founding documents for guidance – the Declaration of Independence, a religious document, and the Constitution, a secular document.

The Declaration speaks of “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” entitle them, the inalienable rights with which people are endowed “by their Creator,” with inalienable rights, and “a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence.”

This is a religious statement— an ecumenical religious statement.  There is nothing in the Declaration to which any Christian would object, but the Declaration also is compatible with Judaism, Islam and many other religions, including “deism” – belief in God unconnected from any organized religious body.

The Constitution, on the other hand, does not mention God at all.  It only speaks of religion – that there shall be no religious test for public office, and that Congress shall pass no law regarding the establishment of religion nor limiting the free exercise of religion.

What I take these two documents together to mean is this.  It is assumed that everybody believes in God in some way, shape or form.  But this is not considered any of the government’s business.  Neither the Declaration nor the Constitution provide any justification for forcing religion on anyone, nor relegating anybody to second-class citizenship based on their religious belief or lack of belief.

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