Monday, February 16, 2009

the erosion of identity: christian twilight

gallup poll, 2008
Gallup Poll, 2008

Returning to another part of that Gallup poll mentioned earlier...

Why isn't the conclusion of that poll that, despite the number of adherents that Christianity can very legitimately claim for itself, it is a dying religion (to be as hyperbolic as possible)? This seems especially true of Protestant Christianity (whose traditional center has been America and Northern Europe). What that poll tells me, at the very least, is that, in the areas dominated by Christianity, Christianity is not the primary means of either interpreting or organizing people's lives.

That is obviously a broad generalization and the reasons for the erosion of Christian identity in these areas are diverse (Orthodoxy in Russia has obviously faced different pressures than the Christian stew that is found in America). And one would also need to be attentive, in a manner I have not, to the flourishing of Christianity in Africa and South America


hat tip to Abu Noor


satire and theology said...

Thanks for the Augustine comments, LoA. I replied and my page is back up properly.

Interesting poll and well stated.

The poll may very well indicate the view you are suggesting, and I, and many others that are more well-known commentators than me have come to the similar conclusions.

I live in Greater Vancouver/The Lower Mainland, which outside of Abbotsford/Langley, a sort of mini Bible belt, is a rather secular part of the Western World I observe. Christianity has been in decline here for decades I reason.

In many ways Christians need to unite on shared central views in these times, and I mean Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, non-denominational, and those 'closet' believers that do not attend church regularly.

Jeff said...

It was a little surprising to me that the poll/map shows the U.S. as being "Less Religious." However, though I completely disagree that Christianity is a "dying religion," I do believe that Christianity is becoming less accepted, less popular and less tolerated, in the U.S. Also, that it has been minimal in Europe, in general, for many years now. On the other hand, Christianity has been exploding in leaps and bounds in the Middle East. Muslims in the Middle East are turning to Christ in astounding numbers, and large numbers of Jews in Israel are turning to Christ. Also interesting is that places where the U.S. used to send missionaries to years ago, are now sending their Christian missionaries to the U.S. to evangelize Americans. And the largest Christian church in the world is not in the U.S., but rather in South Korea. Most Christians in the world are definitely not white, Anglo-Saxon Americans. In fact, Americans are in the minority when compared to all the Christians in the world. Also notable is the fact that, in countries such as those under Shari'a law or Communist control, many of the Christians may not have been included in this Gallup Poll.

Jeff said...

When I said "However, though I completely disagree that Christianity is a "dying religion," I meant world-wide. If you say that Christianity is a dying religion in the U.S., I might tend to agree. The U.S. is no longer a Christian nation.

Lawrence of Arabia said...

Jeff: you have to take "less religious" as a relative term of course. When we typically id the US as a very religious country, we are generally comparing it to western European countries. And, as the poll shows, compared to most of those (esp. those that are historically Protestant), the US is quite religious. It is the comparison to the rest of the world that relatives that claim and puts it into its very limited context.

Also, if you look at the whole study it is broken down by state and you can seem some (not very surprising) variations within the US. The Bible Belt is more religious, New England is not, etc. Though it is notable that even there, no state within the US would qualify for the most religious category. Meanwhile, Egypt was approaching 100%.

You are right, of course, that the center of gravity for Christianity is shifting south, to S.America and Africa.

Russ: glad your site is back up and running properly.

best wishes to you both,