So Long Old Time Religion

Religion in the west is changing according to George Barna. Church attendance, belief in the accuracy of the Bible, and volunteerism are down. The number of unchurched is up. What's next?

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote an article in which I discussed the changing face of religion in the West. I claimed, among other things, that evangelicalism is a dying breed, church attendance is dropping and traditional views of God and the Bible are shifting, and that Christianity will look very different in ten years. In an article published July 26, 2011, the Florida Sun Sentinel summarized recent research done by the Barna Group on shifting trends in religion. The data support the conclusions I made in my article. Here are some of the trends (since 1991).

  • Church attendance fell by 9 percent
  • Belief in the accuracy of the Bible fell by 8 percent
  • Volunteer work at the church fell by 19 percent
  • Those who call themselves “born again” are still growing (up 5 percent)
  • The number of unchurched has grown significantly, up 13 percent

As I stated in my 2010 article (and in this series), the reasons for the shift are varied but I think it comes down to the growing impact science and technology has had on the daily lives of Americans and, at the same time, the shrinking role the church and God have played. I think it is an open question whether these shifts are a good or bad thing. I do believe that something will replace religion—something similar in psychological power. Environmentalism and even Darwinism seem to be viable alternates for many but a new kind of religious sentiment may emerge as well.

Time will certainly tell.

Thanks to Greg Taft for the pointer.

Full article here.

Barna blog post here.

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