Church in Disarray?

The big (and joyful?) news in the mainstream media is that the number of Christians in the U.S. is dropping precipitously, by 7% just since 2007. Now, just 71% of adults claim to be Christian, down by 5 million in seven years, according to a survey of 35,000 adults by the reputable Pew organization. The decline for the so-called “mainline denominations” has been in effect for much longer, while the “evangelical” groups, though virtually stable now, have picked up members steadily for decades.

Often mistakenly referenced as a “Christian nation” account some early settlers simply fleeing religion-repressive governments in Europe, as well as strong religious convictions and church support among many if not most settlers and their progeny, the U.S. is merely a nation of Christians. There has never been a Christian nation, not even the Vatican in Rome, though Christianity has had a profound influence on history since the ministry of Jesus Christ. Immigrants especially in the 1800s and early twentieth century simply enhanced that circumstance in the U.S.

The U.S. situation is not surprising and reflects what has been happening in Europe, a gradual “falling away” (as the evangelists would have it) from the faith as material and personal considerations have replaced worship of God and the consequent behavior resulting from adherence to scriptural philosophies and dictates. Many theologians have embraced the notion that everything is relative and that there are virtually no absolutes, a very attractive circumstance to those chafing at any behavioral/social restraints.

Since 1960, the mainline denominations (United Methodist; Episcopal; Presbyterian (USA); Christian (Disciples) and Evangelical Lutheran) have collectively lost 29% of their memberships, if not a fraction more, while the U.S. population increased by 81%. The World Christian Database pegs the membership of the Southern Baptist Convention (evangelical) at 20,678,000, though the SBC claims about 17,000,000. Accepting the latter indicates a gain since 1960 of 75% and holding.

The social upheaval of the 1960s-70s (flower-children, hippies, druggies, dropouts, war protesters, LSD-hallucinaters, etc.) began the slide away from religion. This means that a huge number have never been connected to a church or denomination, thus making organized-religion numbers only part of the loss-measurement. As the Pew Report noted, the unaffiliated comprised 23% of adults, a 16% rise since 2007 in the “millennial generation.” Those raised as Christians but have rejected the faith represent 19% of adults.

This ignoring of religion has happened concomitantly with the near-total disintegration of the African-American family unit, the disregard of both white and black for institutional marriage in favor of “roommates,” and the near-deification of homosexuality. Historians have developed these stages of national disintegration: (1) bondage to spiritual faith, (2) spiritual faith to great courage, (3) great courage to liberty, (4) liberty to abundance, (5) abundance to selfishness, (6) selfishness to complacency, (7) complacency to apathy, (8) apathy to moral decay, (9) moral decay to dependence, (10) dependence to bondage.

The. U.S. has just moved from step 7 to step 8, most graphically proven by the president's “evolving” from defining marriage as between a man and woman in 2008 to marriage between two men in 2012. This is the epitome of moral decay and recently proven by accounts of homosexuals bankrupting businesses operated by people refusing without adversely impacting anyone to violate their Christian beliefs. Step 9 is in sight as government gradually takes over every aspect of the citizen's existence, which leads to step 10, bondage to oligarchs (think North Korea) or to another country.

The slide to oblivion begins with people having faith as motivator and maintainer and ends with people abandoning that faith, the abandonment-rate accelerating currently. The object of worship now is political correctness in both government and church. How a preacher has the gall to perform a wedding of two men (at least without giggling) in light of Christ's unmistakable damnation of that boggles the mind; however, swimming against the current has always been hard. Just ask John-the-Baptist's head.

Thousands of churches have substituted entertainment for worship with rock bands producing a cacophony one might expect in a primitive tribe-celebration just preceding a dessert of missionary a la mode. Praise teams in their hole-y blue jeans do the gospel-rock and the congregants wave and weave in ecstasy; however, Christ was not about about ecstasy but about sacrifice and outdated things like marriage only between a man and woman, something foreign to the fat-cat religionists of today, who soon will sanction polygamy just as the Muslims do.

And so it goes. Jim Clark