Monday, March 9, 2009

Study: Uncle Sam losing his religion fast

What, this isn't working??

I read about a pastor recently commenting that American youth groups were essentially "holding tanks with pizza" for a generation of youth shrugging off the faith in droves as soon as they leave home.

Now the latest American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) has confirmed the trend in a disturbing, comprehensive look at the loss of faith across the spectrum of American life.

Church has become increasingly irrelevant to people the more it's bent over backward to become relevant.

Mark Silk, director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, sees in the numbers "an emergence of a soft evangelicalism — E-lite — that owes a lot to evangelical styles of worship and basic approach to church.

"But E-lite is more a matter of aesthetic and style and a considerable softening of the edges in doctrine, politics and social values," Silk says.

The next time someone tries to tell me how important Rick Warren is, I'm replying "scoreboard."

And don't forget, ladies and gentiles, as goes the Church, so goes society:

The piety gap defines the primary sides in the culture wars, Kosmin says.

"It's about gay marriage and abortion and stem cells and the family. If a personal God says, 'Thou shalt not' or 'Thou shalt' see these a certain way, you'd take it very seriously. Meanwhile, three in 10 people aren't listening to that God," he says.

"There's more clarity at the two extremes and the mishmash is in the middle," Keysar adds.

That "mishmash in the middle" is growing, with Wiccans, pagans and spiritualists rising in numbers.
"More than ever before, people are just making up their own stories of who they are. They say, 'I'm everything. I'm nothing. I believe in myself,' " says Barry Kosmin, survey co-author.
So much for the last 15 years of seeker-sensitive spiritual foot massages.

Maybe booting the Apostles Creed to make room for that double-bass kit wasn't such a hot idea after all.

Unsurprisingly, Islam, the only faith with tradition, conviction and real teeth has doubled its numbers, small though they remain. Protestants have also dropped off faster than "boring old" Catholicism with its uncool hierarchy and resistance to change.

We're in trouble, folks. And it's going to take more than another disco ball in the sanctuary main auditorium to fix things.


K said...

There are no atheists in foxholes or deep depressions.

Traffic Cop Timmy said...

So much for the last 15 years of seeker-sensitive spiritual foot massages.

Maybe booting the Apostles Creed to make room for that double-bass kit wasn't such a hot idea after all.

I'm not at all surprised that this is happening. As an adult, the only church I attended was a seeker-sensitive church. While The Almighty was able to "reach" me through this church, it was more through the hearts and minds He surrounded me with than the rest of the "show". They purposely made all their decisions based on the 20/30-something paradigm which is not news but I mention it because it ended up pushing away many of the spiritual rocks who could have helped steady the ship. I studied this Rick Warren/Bono/seeker/we are the world situation enough to break from the church.

Splash said...

Great points, TCT. Says a lot. Letting the youth demographic dictate every little thing is a huge, huge part of the problem even at smaller churches.

Traffic Cop Timmy said...

My heart was broken to see the older people actually wait outside until the "worship" (which meant the loud rock music) ended. Many were founders of the church.

This whole "church for people who don't like church" thing is just arrogant. When you're young everything is boring except partying. Doesn't mean it's wrong.