Friday, July 23, 2004

Protestant Numbers and Morality Decline

Losing Majority Status

The United States will lose its historic status as a majority-Protestant nation as early as this year, according to a national survey released yesterday.
Between 1993 and 2002, the proportion of Americans who said they were Protestants fell from 63 percent to 52 percent after decades of stability, according to the study released by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
--Joyce Howard Price U.S. Protestant population seen losing majority statusTHE WASHINGTON TIMES (Sorry, I couldn't find the report on the NORC website).

And the NORC uses a strange definition of Protestant. They include any post-reformation Christian church, " although their theologies differ substantially from those of most Christians and they are not universally viewed as Protestant." In other words, the count of Protestants includes many non-Protestants.

Mormons, for instance, are not so "not universally viewed" as almost universally rejected by Protestants. See this entry in the informative Apologetics Index which reports that Methodists and Roman Catholics, and others reject the claim of Mormons to be Christians.

The main reasons for the numerical decline of Protestantism appear to be

•The number of Americans who said they had no religion rose from 9 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2002. Many in this group were former Protestants.

•Americans who said they belonged to religions other than Christianity or Judaism rose from 3 percent to 7 percent between 1993 and 2002.

Christian Teens Adopt Liberal Outlook

Sunday school teacher Dale Buss complains on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page:

while they may profess the faith and indeed love Jesus, the vast majority of Christian teenagers in this country actually hold beliefs fundamentally antithetical to the creed. The forces of moral relativism and "tolerance" have gotten to them in a big way. In fact, some leaders believe that mushy doctrine among the younger generation ranks as the No. 1 crisis facing American Christendom today.

About one-third of American teenagers claim they're "born again" believers, according to data gathered over the past few years by Barna Research Group, the gold standard in data about the U.S. Protestant church, and 88% of teens say they are Christians. About 60% believe that "the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings." And 56% feel that their religious faith is very important in their life.

Yet, Barna says, slightly more than half of all U.S. teens also believe that Jesus committed sins while he was on earth. About 60% agree that enough good works will earn them a place in heaven, in part reflecting a Catholic view, but also flouting Protestantism's central theme of salvation only by grace. About two-thirds say that Satan is just a symbol of evil, not really a living being. Only 6% of all teens believe that there are moral absolutes--and, most troubling to evangelical leaders, only 9% of self-described born-again teens believe that moral truth is absolute.

"When you ask even Christian kids, 'How can you say A is true as well as B, which is the antithesis of A?,' their typical response is, 'I'm not sure how it works, but it works for me,'" says George Barna, president of the Ventura, Calif.-based research company. "It's personal, pragmatic and fairly superficial."

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