Religious beliefs and habits are among the things we might have thought were at least firmly rooted in society, if not permanent.
Seems the only thing thing that’s permanent is change. Here’s a writer who’s found sound evidence that Christian norms are among the things changing.
I should say at the outset that I find evidence of a higher power, or “ordering force”. However, I’m not affiliated with any religious faith or organization. I’m also not inclined to accept any belief or idea on blind faith. In my research, I find there are more people than I’d have believed with a similar approach to mine.
Of the people who attend church and profess Christianity, seems to me only a few live lives in literal harmony with Christian teachings. Many people don’t “practice what they preach”, in religion as well as other facets of life. How many church-goers do you know who cheat on their spouses, pad expense accounts, or engage in other practices that God would disapprove of?
People who practice their religions (Christian or otherwise) thoughtfully and carefully seem to me to be those who live integrous lives generally. Those who attend church and disregard other religious teachings during the week are those who bear watching carefully in any interaction I have with them.
According to David Gamble, the number of people in the U.S. who label themselves Christian has recently dropped below 50% of the population. This has declined by about 20 percentage points in the last 20 years. Those who truly practice Christianity would be an even lower percentage.
He also found that the percentage of people professing belief in God, the Bible and other religious teachings has dropped from around 86% to 41% in a recent survey. As you might surmise, these trends are most prevalent among younger people.
David identifies several factors in the decline of active participation in Christian activities.
- The political divide – The church’s participation in political argument turns many people off and they leave the church.
- Ethics failures – The exposure of sexual abuse by church officials, as well as other unethical behaviors, turn many people off to organized religion.
- Inconsistency in teaching – Many people are bothered by the church’s open hostility to the gay community while condoning other lifestyles the Bible disapproves of.
- Anti-intellectualism in the church – The church’s complete rejection of evolutionary theory and other scientifically supported ideas troubles many. Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers in some religious communities turn many people off.
The percentage of people who attend church and participate in active religious practices is definitely declining. Nonetheless, it seems to me (and to David) that there will always be a core of believers who follow organized Christian tenets. It’s not clear how many of the disenchanted who’ve left the church continue religious activities privately. I know some who do, and I’m sure they’re not alone.
We see fewer churches and other evidence of Christianity and other religions. Nonetheless, I don’t see organized religion, Christianity in particular, going away any time soon.
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