TRENDS & Is the Political Left Becoming More Religious? What sociologists found. #OxfordUniversity #AssociationForTheSociologyOfReligion

Is the Religious Left Resurgent?” by Joseph O Baker, Gerardo Martí, Sociology of Religion, Volume 81, Issue 2, Summer 2020, Pages 131–141, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/sraa004 Published: 08 April 2020

Abstract:

Journalistic sources seem to suggest that there has been a resurgence of the American Religious Left (i.e., politically liberal Christians who support progressive agendas) in the wake of the strong support from the conservative Christian right in the 2016 presidential election of Donald J. Trump. Using quantitative analysis, we draw on survey data from the General Social Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute, and the National Congregations Study to assess the possibility of a resurgence among the Religious Left. In comparison with a speculated rise, our analysis indicates a notable decline in both the prevalence and engagement of Americans who self-identify as both religious and politically liberal. Not only is the constituency of the Religious Left shrinking, they have also been steadily disengaging from political activity in the last decade. Especially when looking at more recent elections, it has been those among the Secular Left who have been the most politically engaged. We summarize these empirical patterns in relation to the Religious Right and consider the potential for influence among the Religious Left aside from electoral politics. We also briefly consider other possibilities for their political impact and reflect on the inadequacy of the label “Religious Left” for capturing important dynamics. In the end, we urge greater attention to politics among sociologists of religion, providing a set of research questions to consider in light of the upcoming American 2020 national election.

Read more via … https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/81/2/131/5818067?redirectedFrom=fulltext

TRENDS & Watch this music video to see fresh expressions of the Church (and be blessed by the singing too).

From the UK, a praise video of the diverse young people choosing to follow Jesus.

TRENDS & 7 Church Leadership Trends for the 2020s by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader & @OutreachMag

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  1. Autocratic leadership will continue to be replaced by transformational leadership. Autocratic leadership occurs when a more knowledgeable “elder leader” tells or directs others what to do. Better described as “paternal leadership,” it is less attractive to millennials who have experienced leadership decisions through collaboration and over electronic mediums. Transformational leadership however occurs when a leader publicly demonstrates that he or she wants to improve and transform their own leadership style while helping people become transform their lives too. We see this latter aspect in Jesus’ leadership, when he didn’t castigate or excommunicate the leaders he was developing when they failed in their leadership (for example, Simon Peter’s fails are recorded over a dozen times, Matt 15:16, Mark 10:13, Luke 22:24, Matthew 17:24, etc.)
  2. Leaders will encourage several organizational visions built around one mission. A mission is a church’s biblically based “reason for being” according to Barna, McIntosh, and Whitesel/Hunter. Also according to these authors a vision is a specific, envisioned, future outcome. But since churches are becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-congregational, trying to focus on just one version won’t get enough buy-in from most congregants. Today what I label “micro-visions” create short-term wins, because they are quicker to attain and can be quickly embraced by different church subcultures. This does not mean a large number of visions. The average church today is only 75 attendees and might have just a couple of visions suitable for its size. A mega-church of several thousand, however, might have 6 to 8 visions representing different congregational cultures. For example, traditional members might envision a choir, Sunday school classes and reaching out to a senior living center nearby. The church’s millennials might have a vision for interactive sermons, online small groups and reaching out to homeless people in their communities. Churches are realizing that they are increasingly multicultural organizations and so to work together they must embrace one biblical mission with several different visions.
  3. Leaders will willingly live on less. Millennials are skeptical of leaders who proverbially “feather their own nests” with monies from the congregation. Younger generations have seen leaders become disconnected, for example when baby boomer leaders lived a much higher lifestyle than the congregants they served. Millennials are determined to change this. For example, millennial church planters are increasingly bi-vocational and many full-time millennial pastors are choosing to become bi-vocational to better connect with non-churchgoers. Living slightly under the median income of the congregation one serves (rather than slightly above it) will increasingly become the new norm.
  4. Leadership will be learned through artificial intelligence, virtual reality, online courses and even gaming. Online learning continues to be a disruptor that is making specific leadership topics available to leaders that need them quickly. Online certification programs such as ChurchLeadership.university, InterimPastor.university, etc. are making high-quality education in specific topics, available at a small fee to many people around the world.
  5. Leaders will increasingly spend more of their time with non-churchgoers and the needy, balancing their time between them and Christians. Fuller professor Donald McGavran warned of “redemption and lift,” meaning the longer a person is a Christian the more they are lifted out of the daily world of the non-churchgoer and thus increasingly insensitive to the needs of non-churchgoers. John Wesley, living 300 years earlier, recognized this too and required all leadership groups to serve the needy on a regular basis. Tomorrow’s leaders recognize that staying connected to the needs of those that don’t yet have a personal relationship with Christ is equally as important as spending time with Christians. Jesus spent time with those who needed him but did not yet believe in him, even to the chagrin of his family (Mark 3:20-34).
  6. Leaders will increasingly be about leading non-churchgoers further along their spiritual journey, not just about leading Christians. In the next decade, Christian leadership will be less and less about leading a church, but increasingly about leading non-churchgoers toward better lives and potentially a relationship with Christ. In the past, being a good church leader was mainly about helping Christians develop their skills. But emerging leaders are recognizing that leadership is equally about helping nonbelievers move closer to Christ on their belief journey. My friend and Fuller professor Richard Peace tells about witnessing to a young atheist, who afterword said that he was no longer an atheist, but now agnostic. At first Richard was discouraged, hoping to see this young man have a conversionary experience. But then Richard realized he had helped this young seeker move one step closer to understanding who Jesus is and having a personal relationship with him. Richard began to pray for that young man, having seen a movement in that man’s spiritual journey towards the ultimate experience of transformation.
  7. Respected leaders won’t be leaders of big congregations, but leaders who are growing and changing. Over the years I’ve seen a great deal of distrust develop regarding leaders of large churches, some of it earned but most of it an occupational hazzard. A natural distancing occurs in leadership (remember McGavran’s warning of “redemption and lift”) that brings about suspicion and skepticism in some of those that want to be led. Subsequently, followers in the next decade increasingly want to know that their leaders are continually learning and changing for the better. They want to watch leaders repent, adjust and rely on the Holy Spirit to improve, called sanctification (Mark 11:12-25, 2 Cor. 3:18, Phil. 3:12, etc.). The next decade’s leader will not seen as on a pedestal, but upon a journey of self discovery with the Holy Spirit at her or his guide.

Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/7-church-leadership-trends-for-the-2020s/

ARTICLE Art 7 Leadership Trends of 2020s.png

TRENDS & Barna’s “State of the Church 2020″ lists “Pastors’ Concerns for the Christian Church in the U.S.” = “watered down Gospel teachings,” secularization, discipleship & “addressing complex social issues with biblical integrity.”

“What’s on pastors’ minds? It’s not religious liberty” by , Religion News Service, 2/10/20.

…According to the (Barna “State of the Church 2020″) report, three-quarters (72%) of Protestant pastors identify the impact of “watered down gospel teachings” on Christianity in the U.S. as a major concern. That’s especially true for pastors in non-mainline denominations (78%). Mainline pastors (59%) are less concerned.

About two-thirds (66%) of pastors say a major concern for Christianity is “culture’s shift to a secular age,” followed by 63% who identified “poor discipleship models” as a major concern and 58% who named “addressing complex social issues with biblical integrity,” the survey says.

In their own churches, most pastors reported that the major concerns they face are “reaching a younger audience” (51%) and “declining or inconsistent outreach and evangelism” (50%), according to the report.

What doesn’t worry pastors very much: religious liberty — the stuff of Supreme Court cases, executive orders, campaign promises and a recent task force and summit. Only 23% of Protestant pastors identify it as a major concern or issue facing the Christian church today in the U.S., and 32% said it was not a concern or issue at all, according to Barna Group data.

Other issues low on pastors’ list of major concerns include keeping up with technology and digital trends (7%), online churches and other challenges to the traditional church model (11%), “celebrity pastors pulling people away from the local church” (19%), the declining influence pastors have in their communities (20%) and the role of women in the church (23%).

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/02/10/whats-the-state-of-the-church-barna-group-launches-project-to-survey-local-national-church/

TRENDS & 6 Pop Culture Examples That Show Faith Isn’t Taboo Anymore.

by Paul Jankowski, Forbes Magazine, 1/2/19.

..,I’ve been studying the role faith plays in marketing to the New Heartland for over a decade. As one of the three core values this cohort, which makes up 60% of the country, prioritizes in their decision-making process, it’s important to explore its relevance in today’s society. 

…Get to a place where you understand the role faith plays.

Lately, entertainment and faith have been intersecting in ways that reflect a New Heartland state of mind. 

Faith and its connection to pop culture is gaining ground with both New Heartland and non-New Heartland personalities leading the way. 

… Here are 6 examples from 2019 of pop culture heavyweights leaning into faith, not away from it…

2. Eric Church Faces Monsters with Prayer 

2019 was the year of embracing faith in country music. Some notable songs featuring faith include Matt Stell’s “Prayed For You,” Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” and Little Big Town’s“The Daughters,” fans were introduced to “Monsters” by Eric Church at the end of the summer. Church sings about the power of prayer when faced with difficult times. Since his first EP, “Sinners Like Me,” Church has danced with faith in his lyrics to much success. 

3. Chance the Rapper Gets Inspiration from Above 

Since Chance the Rapper declared himself as a Christian rapper in 2018, he has lived out the lifestyle very publicly. He uses Jesus’ name on network TV, volunteers for Kids of the Kingdom in his hometown of Chicago, and shares his message of faith through his music. His 2018 single, “Blessings,” opens with the line “I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him ’til I’m gone. When the praises go up, the blessings come down.” 

  • 4. Dolly Parton Takes Traditional Values to a Non-Traditional Genre

    Swedish DJs Galantis and Dutch singer Mr. Probz approached Parton with a proposal to sing on their EDM remake of John Hiatt’s 80s hit, “Faith.” Many of her country songs have been re purposed as party mixes, but this is the first time she collaborated on a venture of this type outside of her bluegrass roots. Her collaborations following 18 years away from the stage are predominantly faith-focused. In addition to “Faith,” Parton joined forces with For King and Country earlier in 2019 on their song “God Only Knows.” 

    Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/pauljankowski/2020/01/02/6-pop-culture-examples-that-show-faith-isnt-taboo-anymore-brands-take-note/#2566ca465f27

    TRENDS & Share of Americans With No Religious Affiliation Is Rising Significantly, New Data Shows

    by David Crary, Time Magazine, 10/17/19.

    The portion of Americans with no religious affiliation is rising significantly, in tandem with a sharp drop in the percentage that identifies as Christians, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

    Based on telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, Pew said Thursday that 65% of American adults now describe themselves as Christian, down from 77% in 2009. Meanwhile, the portion that describes their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

    Both Protestant and Roman Catholic ranks are losing population share, according to Pew. It said 43% of U.S. adults identify as Protestants, down from 51% in 2009, while 20% are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009.

    Pew says all categories of the religiously unaffiliated population – often referred to as the “nones” grew in magnitude. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up from 2% in 2009; agnostics account for 5%, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009.

    Read more at … https://time.com/5704040/american-religious-affiliations-decreasing/

    TRENDS & 7 Surprising Trends Of Today’s Worldwide Growth of Christianity via #LifeWay

    by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 6/11/19.

    …The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary regularly publishes the Status of Global Christianity. Evaluating their research and predictions provides an encouraging and potential surprising picture for the current and future state of Christianity.

    1. CHRISTIANITY IS GROWING FASTER THAN THE POPULATION.

    Globally, Christianity is growing at a 1.27% rate. Currently, there are 2.5 billion Christians in the world. The world’s population, 7.7 billion, is growing at a 1.20% rate.

    Islam (1.95%), Sikhs (1.66%) and Hindus (1.30%) are the only religious groups growing faster than Christianity, though followers of Jesus outnumber every other faith and are predicted to continue to do so at least through 2050.

    2. PENTECOSTALS AND EVANGELICALS ARE GROWING THE FASTEST AND ARE STILL PICKING UP SPEED.

    Among Christian groups, Pentecostals (2.26%) and evangelicals (2.19%) are growing faster than others.

    They are both also growing faster than they did just two years ago. In 2017, Pentecostals’ growth rate was 2.22% and evangelicals was 2.12%.

    3. ATHEISM HAS PEAKED.

    There are fewer atheists in the world today (138 million) than there were in 1970 (165 million).

    Since 2000, atheism has rebounded slightly—only by 0.04%—but it is expected to decline again and fall below 130 million by 2050.

    Agnosticism has maintained a small growth rate of 0.42%. After reaching 716 million this year, however, it is expected to drop below 700 million by 2050.

    4. CHRISTIANITY IS GROWING IN CITIES, BUT NOT FAST ENOUGH.

    Today, 1.64 billion Christians live in urban areas, growing at a 1.58% rate since 2000.

    But more than 55% of the world’s population lives in cities and that is only continuing to grow.

    The global urban population is growing at a 2.15% rate.

    5. THE CENTER OF CHRISTIANITY HAS MOVED TO THE GLOBAL SOUTH.

    In 1900, twice as many Christians lived in Europe than in the rest of the world combined. Today, both Latin America and Africa have more. By 2050, the number of Christians in Asia will also pass the number in Europe.

    Currently, Christianity is barely growing in Europe (0.04% rate) and only slightly better in North America (0.56%).

    Oceania (0.89) and Latin America (1.18%) have marginally better rates, but the faith is exploding in Asia (1.89%) and Africa (2.89%).

    Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2019/06/11/7-surprising-trends-in-global-christianity-in-2019/

    TRENDS & 73% of American churches are declining & we are seeing a marked decline in fast-growing churches (from 12% to 3%) and a marked increase in churches declining toward death (10% to 19%). #LifeWay

    by Thom Rainer, LifeWay, 6/3/19.

    Based upon an aggregate of several research projects, I made some notes of growth and decline rates of churches and summarized my estimates into five categories by worship attendance changes over the previous five-year period. I compiled the following numbers ten years ago:

    Growth and Decline Categories of North American Congregations 2009

    • Fast-growing (growing greater than 5% annually): 12%
    • Growing (growing nominally to 5% annually): 23%
    • Steadily declining (declining 0% to 3% annually): 34%
    • Rapidly declining (declining 2% to 5% annually): 21%
    • Declining toward death (over 5% decline annually): 10%

    This past week I conducted the same exercise based on some of my updated research and the research of others and estimated the following:

    Growth and Decline Categories of North American Congregations 2019

    • Fast-growing (growing greater than 5% annually): 3%
    • Growing (growing nominally to 5% annually): 24%
    • Steadily declining (declining 0% to 3% annually): 32%
    • Rapidly declining (declining 2% to 5% annually): 22%
    • Declining toward death (over 5% decline annually): 19%

    My numbers admittedly are estimates, but they do have some quantitative basis, such as denominational statistics, research by LifeWay Research, and the data available in the increasing number of consultation and coaching requests we receive.

    Obviously, the staggering reality of these numbers is the pronounced change in the two extreme categories. We are seeing a marked decline in fast-growing churches and a marked increase in churches declining toward death.

    Read more at … https://thomrainer.com/2019/06/the-faster-pace-of-decline-toward-death-of-many-congregations/

    TRENDS & Graphs Reveal Evangelicals Show No Decline, Despite Trump and Nones (but mainline church affiliation is declining)

    by Ryan Burge, Christianity Today, 3/21/19.

    … As Tobin Grant, editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, pointed out: “Changes in religion are slow. No group gains or loses quickly.” (The “nones,” a popular term for the religiously unaffiliated, being an exception—gaining faster than other affiliations tend to because they pull from multiple faith groups.)

    Slideshow

    That’s mostly what the 2018 GSS results show us. Evangelicals—grouped in this survey by church affiliation—continue to make up around 22.5 percent of the population as they have for much of the past decade, while the nones, now up to 23.1 percent themselves, keep growing. (For comparison, the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Survey put evangelicals at 25.4 percent and the religious nones at 22.8 percent.)

    Slideshow

    Other than one outlier—a slight peak of 24.7 percent in 2012—evangelicals have ranged from 22.5 percent to 24 percent of the US population over the past 10 years. Still, this steadiness doesn’t mean “no change” among the evangelical population. There is always a “churn” occurring within any religious group. People leave the group because of death or defection, while new members either grow up in the faith or convert as adults.

    Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/march/evangelical-nones-mainline-us-general-social-survey-gss.html

    ATTENDANCE & When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church” #PewResearch

    Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I tell church leaders not to plant a church in the fall or launch a new service or venue at that time. That is because while there is a peak of interest in going to church before Thanksgiving, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the lowest time of the year for people to be interested in attending church.

    It is much better to launch new multiplication efforts during Lent in the Spring run up to Easter as depicted in the chart below.

    When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church”

    by Nobel Kuriakose, Pew Research, 5/18/14.

    More Americans search for “church” around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second, according to Google Trends data between 2004 and 2013. Google’s Trends tool measures the popularity of a search term relative to all searches in the United States. Data are reported on a scale from 0 to 100…

    In 2013, the highest share of searches for “church” are on the week of Easter Sunday, followed by the week of Christmas and the week of Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent.

    The lowest share of searches occur on the week of Thanksgiving in November each year, and the summer months have consistently low levels of interest in web searches for “church.” Sociologists also have previously reported low levels of church attendance during the summer months. Laurence Iannaccone and Sean Everton analyzed weekly attendance records from churches and argued that people are less likely to attend church when the weather outside is just right in a journal article titled “Never on Sunny Days.”

    Read more at … https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/18/when-easter-and-christmas-near-more-americans-search-online-for-church/

    TRENDS & 6 in 10 US churches are declining or plateaued per #LifeWayResearch

    Read more from LifeWay Research here … https://factsandtrends.net/2019/03/15/are-american-churches-growing/

    BIBLICAL ENTHUSIASM & Sadly it is declining in America like it has in Europe. But, there is something God can do through us to restore www.Enthusiast.life !

    Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Two of the best researchers on the church in America have pointed out in a recent article that enthusiastic Christianity is on the decline. I hate to hear this, but I believe we must understand the reasons why and petition the Lord of the harvest to show as ways to restore biblical enthusiasm. And I believe He can!

    Read this article citing research by colleagues Mark Chavez and David Voas and then let us look for ways to help people restore the enthusiasm that God intends for them to experience.

    Is American religion exceptional? Maybe, maybe not by Yonat Shimron Religious News Service, 11/19/18.

    … In an article published in Sociological Science last week (Nov. 15), David Voas and Mark Chaves, of University College London and Duke University, respectively, maintain that U.S. religious devotion may be higher than in other Western countries but it too is slowly declining and essentially no different from other developed nations in its growing secularization.

    On the other side are two graduate students, one at Harvard and the other at Indiana University, who argue the most devout Americans have remained so and the decline is coming from those with moderate religious habits…

    Voas and Chaves counter that even the intensely religious segment of the American population is shrinking. Just as Europe has become more secular, so too has America, just at a slower rate.

    “The fact of the matter is, even on the intense religious category the U.S. is declining, if very slowly,” said Chaves, a professor of sociology and religious studies at Duke University.

    Both teams examined five indicators of intense religion: strong religious affiliation, more than weekly attendance at religious services, biblical literalism, affiliation with an evangelical religious group and praying multiple times per day.

    Voas and Chaves argue that between 1973 and today there’s been a significant drop in religious Americans’ responses in three key indicators: affiliation, the number of religious services people attend each week and their belief that the Bible is the literal word of God.

    For example, only 6.6 percent of Americans attended church more than once a week between 2012 and 2016, a drop from 8 percent in 1973.

    Asked if “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word,”

    31 percent said yes between 2010 and 2016, a drop from 35 percent between 1984 and 1990.

    The reason for the overall drop? It’s generational, argue Voas and Chaves…

    Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2018/11/19/is-american-religion-exceptional-maybe-maybe-not/

    TRENDS & Access link to the #DukeUniversity National Congregations Study #NCS #NCSIII #StrategicChurchPlanning

    Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  I often cite the valuable research in Duke University’s National Congregations Survey.

    Here are a few application ideas:

    TRENDS & 5 Trends from the Third Wave of the National Congregations Study #DukeUniversity #JSSR #UnivChicago

    SIZE & The Median Church in the US has 75 Regular Participants on Sunday Mornings #NationalCongregationsStudy #NCS

    TRENDS & Church Is More Informal, Like Society, Study Finds #NationalCongregationsSurvey #NYTimes

    MULTIPLICATION & Churches are starting more sites, but fewer worship services.

    DIVERSITY & Diversity in churches is increasing. #reMIXbook

    CHURCH SIZE & Separation between smallest and largest churches widens.

    TRENDS & The Most Impt. Observations from The National Congregations Study (NCSIII) #Duke #MarkChaves #NCS

     

    To access this study yourself,  below is an introduction to the National Congregations Study and a link to the results.


    (the following is from http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/about.html)

    About the National Congregations Study

    Congregations are the basic social unit of American religious life. They are the local gatherings of people that exist within almost every religion in the United States. They include churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Nearly all collective religious activity in America occurs through them.

    Congregations are:

    • the primary site of religious ritual activity;
    • an organizational model followed even by religious groups new to this country;
    • a place of sociability and community for more than half of all Americans;
    • a source of opportunities for community service, civic engagement, and political action;
    • a location for a wide variety of community events and social service activities; and
    • the main context in which religious identities are forged and reinforced through education and practice.

    The National Congregations Study (NCS) is an ongoing national survey effort to gather information about the basic characteristics of America’s congregations. The first wave of the NCS took place in 1998, Wave II was fielded in 2006–07, and Wave III was completed in 2012. The study was repeated in order to track both continuity and change among American congregations. Waves II and III also explore subjects that were not explored in Wave I. Over all three waves, a total of 3,815 congregations have participated in the NCS.

    There is no doubt that religious congregations are a significant part of American society. We know congregational life is changing, but it is difficult to document exactly what is changing in the 21st century, and how fast. The National Congregations Study contributes to knowledge about American congregations by collecting information about a wide range of their characteristics and programs across time. NCS results have helped us to better understand many aspects of congregational life in the United States.
    Top of Page


    In all three waves,
    the research was done in conjunction with the General Social Survey (GSS). The 1998, 2006, and 2012 GSS asked respondents who attend religious services to name their religious congregation, thus generating a nationally representative sample of religious congregations. Researchers then located these congregations.

    A key informant at each congregation – a minister, priest, rabbi, or other staff person or leader – provided each congregation’s information via a one-hour interview conducted either over the phone or in person. The survey gathered information on many topics, including the congregation’s leadership, social composition, structure, activities, and programming.

    Using this web site you can review the survey methodology and the questionnaires themselves (Methodology), work with the survey responses to find out the basic facts for each question (Explore the Data), create your own customized tables that cross-tabulate responses to two different questions (Explore the Data), and learn where you can find more extensive writings about the research results (Study Writings).

    You can also download the combined data from the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA). Both waves have been combined into one dataset for ease of use.

    Read more at … http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/about.html

    TRENDS & More Than 3 in 4 Americans Say U.S. Moral Values Are “Getting Worse” According to New #GallupResearch

    by Justin McCarthy, Gallup, 6/1/18..

    … Forty-nine percent of Americans say the state of moral values in the U.S. is “poor” — the highest percentage in Gallup’s trend on this measure since its inception in 2002. Meanwhile, 37% of U.S. adults say moral values are “only fair,” and 14% say they are “excellent” or “good.”

    Line graph: How Americans rate state of U.S. moral values -- excellent, good, only fair, poor? Highs: exc/good: 23% (2011); poor: 49% (‘18).

    These data are from Gallup’s annual Values and Morals poll, conducted May 1-10.

    Americans have always viewed the state of U.S. morals more negatively than positively. But the latest figures are the worst to date, with a record-high 49% rating values as poor and a record-tying-low 14% rating them as excellent or good.

    In earlier polls on the measure, Americans were about as likely to rate the country’s moral standing as only fair as they were to say it was poor. But in 10 of the past 12 annual polls since 2007, Americans have been decidedly more likely to rate it as poor…

    More Than Three in Four Americans Say U.S. Moral Values Are “Getting Worse”

    When asked whether U.S. moral values are getting better or worse, Americans have consistently said they are worsening, and that remains the case today. Currently, 77% say moral values in the U.S. are getting worse, while 18% say they are getting better.

    Views of the direction of the country’s morals were slightly more negative from 2006 to 2008, however, when 81% to 82% said the state of moral values was declining.

    Line graph: Americans' views of U.S. moral values’ direction: 18% getting better, 77% getting worse (2018). High, getting worse: 82% (‘07).

    Read more at … http://news.gallup.com/poll/235211/half-americans-say-moral-values-poor.aspx

    TRENDS & Liberal religions’ loss has not been our gain. Conservative religions, at best, used to hold steady as a percentage of the population; now we are not even doing that.

    by , “Flunking Sainthood,” 5/8/18.

    … For a long time, the strict-religions theory seemed to explain a great deal, at least in the United States: in the 1980s and 1990s, conservative religions were indeed thriving even as mainline Protestantism’s numbers went down the toilet.

    More recent work has called this into question, driven by the reality that almost all religious traditions are now struggling — even conservative ones like evangelical Protestantism and Mormonism, which once seemed so reliably immune.

    Sociologist Darren Sherkat calls the old strict-church theory the “supply side” thesis, since it assumes that religion is akin to a free market economy in which a religion might increase its market share through the conversions of people who are attracted to its unique message. Sherkat contrasts it with the other main thesis that is gaining ground, secularization:

    . . . secularization theories argue that as the United States becomes more secular, religious attachments will become less important. Hence, secularization proponents expect to find that nonaffiliation is increasing, that religious switching is more common, and that more fundamentalist and exclusivist religious groups will decline or only increase through fertility differentials.

    And that is indeed the case: all three of those factors he mentions are now happening. If supply-side theories alone could explain why liberal religions seemed to decline in the 1990s and beyond, Sherkat argues, we would see evidence that the exodus from liberal traditions such as mainline Protestantism was matched by a corresponding growth in conservative religions that was not already due to those religions’ higher fertility – and the data don’t show that.

    That’s not to say that the secularization theorists have it all right, either; Sherkat says their “grand, linear, evolutionary perspective” of religious decline “is just as far-fetched as the supply-side stories yearning for a sectarian Christian America.” Rather, religious decline is related to broader demographic patterns that are complex and ever-changing, from declining fertility and immigration to generational replacement. A big part of the problem is that Americans are having fewer kids.

    Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow explains it well:

    Some argued that [mainline Protestantism declined because] people wanted strict churches and these had become too lax. The better evidence, though, showed that nearly all the decline in mainline denominations was attributable to demographics. Mainline members were better educated and more likely to be middle class or upper-middle class than the rest of the population. As such, mainline members married later, had children later, and had fewer of them. Memberships declined because there were simply fewer children being born into these denominations. Evangelical Protestants, meanwhile, escaped these demographic problems. As long as they kept marrying young and having large families, their growth would make up for the mainline losses. There is just one problem: the same demographics that caused problems for mainline churches are now prevalent in the whole society.

    To sum up: liberal religions’ loss has not been our gain. Conservative religions, at best, used to hold steady as a percentage of the population; now we are not even doing that.

    Instead, the real growth has been in nonaffiliation, as people are no longer switching religions so much as dropping out altogether. About 7% of Americans claimed no religious identification in the early 1970s, when the General Social Survey began tracking it. In 2016, according to PRRI, that group (the “Nones”) had nearly quadrupled to 26% of the U.S. population – and there are signs it will only accelerate through cohort replacement. As you can see from the infographic up top, among younger Millennials in 2016, 39% had no affiliation.

    Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2018/03/08/if-mormonism-becomes-liberal-and-progressive-wont-it-decline-even-more/

    TRENDS & Christian women in the U.S. are more religious than their male counterparts #PewResearch

    by  , Pew Research Fact Tank, 4/6/18.

    In many parts of the world, women – especially Christian women – are more religious than men. In the United States, where seven-in-ten adults are Christian, this religion gender gap is actually greater than it is a number of other developed nations, including Canada, the UK, Germany and France.

    More than seven-in-ten U.S. Christian women (72%) say religion is “very important” in their lives, compared with 62% of the country’s Christian men, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study. Roughly eight-in-ten Christian women also say they are absolutely certain God exists and that the Bible is the word of God, compared with about seven-in-ten men who say this.

    Christian men and women in the U.S. also differ in their private devotional habits. For example, roughly three-quarters (74%) of Christian women say they pray at least daily, compared with six-in-ten men (60%). The gender gap in prayer is especially wide for Catholics and mainline Protestants: 67% of Catholic women say they pray every day while just 49% of men say the same. And 62% of mainline Protestant women say they pray daily, compared with 44% of men. Among the U.S. Christian traditions analyzed in this study, Mormons are the only group in which there is no prayer gender gap, with similar shares of women and men saying they pray daily (86% and 84%, respectively).

    A similar dynamic is evident when it comes to church attendance. Christian women say they attend religious services at higher rates than Christian men, but among Mormons, there is virtually no gender difference.

    While Christian men are, on average, less religious than Christian women in the U.S., the survey also shows that men overall are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated (that is, identifying as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”). Indeed, more than a quarter of men are religious “nones,” compared with just 19% of women who are religiously unaffiliated.

    Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/06/christian-women-in-the-u-s-are-more-religious-than-their-male-counterparts/

    TRENDS & A video on how to use and analyze the #Pew Religious Landscape Study.

    U.S. Religious Landscape Study is based on telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans from all 50 states. This is the second time the Pew Research Center has conducted a Religious Landscape Study. The first was conducted in 2007, also with a telephone survey of more than 35,000 Americans. The results from the new Landscape Study will be published in a series of reports.

    This interactive tool complements the first and second releases; the first report focuses on the changing religious composition of the U.S. and the demographic characteristics of U.S. religious groups, while the second report looks at religious beliefs and practices as well as social and political views for the U.S. adult population overall and for specific religious traditions.

    Read more at … http://www.pewforum.org/about-the-religious-landscape-study/

    CHURCH ATTENDANCE & Gallup research: Percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply & those professing no religious identity, up to 20% from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

     

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.

    graph 1

    From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.

    By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.

    … Currently, the rate of weekly church attendance among Protestants and Catholics is similar at most age levels. One exception is among those aged 21 to 29, with Protestants (36%) more likely than Catholics (25%) to say they have attended in the past seven days.

    Protestants’ Pie Is Shrinking Faster Than Catholics’

    While attracting parishioners to weekly services is vital to the maintenance of the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations alike, so too is maintaining a large base of Americans identifying with each faith group.

    Although the rate at which Protestants attend church has held firm over the past six decades, the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply, from 71% in 1955 to 47% in the mid-2010s. Since 1999, Gallup’s definition of Protestants has included those using the generic term “Christian” as well as those calling themselves Protestant or naming a specific Protestant faith.

    By contrast, while the Catholic Church has suffered declining attendance in the U.S., the overall percentage of Catholics has held fairly steady — largely because of the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population. Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults today identify as Catholic, compared with 24% in 1955.

    A troubling sign for both religions is that younger adults, particularly those aged 21 to 29, are less likely than older adults to identify as either Protestant or Catholic. This is partly because more young people identify as “other” or with other non-Christian religions, but mostly because of the large proportion — 33% — identifying with no religion.

    Bottom Line

    …Although weekly attendance among Protestants has been stable, the proportion of adults identifying as Protestants has shrunk considerably over the past half-century. And that trend will continue as older Americans are replaced by a far less Protestant-identifying younger generation.

    All of this comes amid a broader trend of more Americans opting out of formal religion or being raised without it altogether. In 2016, Gallup found one in five Americans professing no religious identity, up from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

    Read more at … http://news.gallup.com/poll/232226/church-attendance-among-catholics-resumes-downward-slide.aspx

    TRENDS & Millennials are Leaving the Church… But Black Millennials Aren’t. My colleague Natasha Sistrunk Robinson explains why.

    “Millennials are Leaving the Church, Who Cares?“ by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, Missio Alliance, March 6, 2017..

    …But Black Millennials Aren’t

    In his article titled, “Why Aren’t Black Millennials Leaving the Church,” Bryan T. Calvin drew on the 2012 PEW Research Center to make the case that Black millennials are not leaving the church, and there are specific reasons why they are staying. He writes, “In general, the numbers consistently show that blacks of all ages are more likely to maintain religious affiliation that whites.”

    Why is this? He continues, “It seems that blacks are more invested in the practices and rituals associated with church life…Maybe the difference is that whites and blacks view the institution of the Church differently. Historically, the black church has always played an important communal role.”

    Calvin continues his piece with another observation, “Talking about Millennials leaving the Church without specifying which Millennials is only half the conversation. And if the American Church is willing to enter into conversation beyond the racial lines that has often been drawn up around it, they may realize that the solution to their ‘problem’ of Millennials leaving is closer than they thought.”

    Solution One: Embrace Diversity

    Diversity seems like a buzz word and the lack of ethnic diversity in various arenas seems like am ever trending topic these days. I almost hesitated to use the wording here. Yet I persisted because I don’t know if the reality of the lack of ethnic diversity— including the lack of value of diverse voices, diverse experiences, and diversity in leadership— has sunk in to the psyche of the evangelical church.

    The millennial generation values diversity while the evangelical church gives diversity lip service. The millennials have observed this hypocrisy and they are voting with their feet. The writing is on the wall. White millennials will not come back to the church unless there is authenticity and drastic change…

    Solution Three: Focus on the Group and not the Individual

    This year, Christianity Today published an article titled, “How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently.” In it, they focus on Barna’s recent study regarding “Racial Divides in Spiritual Practices.” Concerning the state of discipleship, Barna reports that “black Christian leaders are more likely to say that ‘deepening one’s faith through education and fellowship’ is a goal of discipleship,” and mentorship as part of a group is a crucial part of fellowship.

    This education includes the study of the Bible in a group, memorizing and meditating on Scriptures. Furthermore, they conclude that “Black communities tend toward communal rhythms of spiritual development” and that “one’s personal spiritual life had implication for social justice.” Finally, the report indicates that Black Christians place a higher value on their friends.

    Read more at … http://www.missioalliance.org/millennials-leaving-church-cares/

    TRENDS & More Americans now say they’re spiritual but not religious #PewResearch

    by MICHAEL LIPKA and CLAIRE GECEWICZ, Pew Research, 9/26/17.

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    Some people may see the term “spiritual but not religious” as indecisive and devoid of substance. Others embrace it as an accurate way to describe themselves. What is beyond dispute, however, is that the label applies to a growing share of Americans.

    About a quarter of U.S. adults (27%) now say they think of themselves as spiritual but not religious, up 8 percentage points in five years, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted between April 25 and June 4 of this year. This growth has been broad-based: It has occurred among men and women; whites, blacks and Hispanics; people of many different ages and education levels; and among Republicans and Democrats. For instance, the share of whites who identify as spiritual but not religious has grown by 8 percentage points in the past five years.

    Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/06/more-americans-now-say-theyre-spiritual-but-not-religious/