Declines in religious affiliation have been occurring for the last 75 years. Stronger close knit religious generations have weakened overall every preceding generation. Even by the standards of 1972, when over 90 percent of the nation considered itself Christian, it now only lingers around 60 percent according to a Pew Survey. The amazing decline is how in the modern day 30 percent of the population has drifted to atheistic, agnostic or unsure. This dramatic shift did not happen overnight but occurred over time and due to various abuses and secularistic ideals.
The article, “Losing their religion: why US churches are on the decline” by Adam Gabbatt looked at these statistics from the Pew Survey as well as others and found a steady decline in Christian Protestant Churches, as well as decline in attendance in both Catholic and Protestant Churches. He states,
“Churches are closing at rapid numbers in the US, researchers say, as congregations dwindle across the country and a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether – even as faith continues to dominate American politics. As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a figure that experts believe may have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Losing their religion: why US churches are on the decline”. Gabbatt, A. (2023). The Guardian.
To read the entire article, please click here
One can easily attribute the fall of Christianity in America to Satan. Of course, he is the mastermind and puppet master of every trick, but there are concrete reasons for the fall of religious participation in the United States that have indirectly led to this religious vacuum. Satan has his hand on it, but society has to also take responsibility.
Religious sloth is one of the primary problems that some do not even recognize. While grandparents attended Mass, church service or performed daily prayers in open sight of children, their children became more lax in emphasizing the religious teachings and obligations. This sloth has spread in many American families which has led to individuals with little knowledge of the faith, or desire to attend. Instead, many Christians do not have family experiences of consistent Sunday obligation or daily prayer. The young generation is not educated, nor told the importance of their faith. Instead they fall victim to other “isms” and social norms that take the place of the faith.
In addition, many families lack the same structure as in the past. Single family homes account for a growing number of Christian families. Through divorce, many single parent families lacked the structure or desire to ensure a child made it to service or mass. This accounted for more religious sloth in religious education and religious participation.
The Covid Pandemic damaged a weak existing Church-going base. With the closing of Churches for the pandemic, individuals without strong faith roots, acquired new habits of not attending. First, by simply watching a service on television, then gradually dismissing it all together. This also led to a poor spiritual life void of Scripture, prayer or God. The void created a vacuum for modern day social views and “isms”.
The Church first starts at home. With broken families, religious sloth, has weakened a generation from understanding the faith, defending it, and participating in the mysteries of it.
The last 75 years have created a religious vacuum, where Christianity and many organized religions have been replaced by other “isms” to replace humanity’s natural needs. Secularism and Materialism as always constant distractions to religion, gladly moved into the hearts and minds of the next generation. The new god was the world and the world offered more because the true God was no longer emphasized. With technology and new advances, individuals found secular life more exciting. With secular life came new social norms and values. Secular Humanism presented a new morality regarding life and death, sex and choice, and gender and personhood. These new radical ideas were not challenged but openly accepted. The ideas of Christianity were then considered biased, judgmental, hateful and wrong.
Religious Abuse and Extremism
The abuses within the Church added to the problem in this sharp decline. The Catholic Church’s sexual abuses weakened the image of the Church and its credibility. In Protestant Churches, sex scandals and financial scandals also rocked the faith of the youth. These abuses led many away from religion and into the hands of secularism.
Many have been turned away from the faith to extremist groups that enshrine themselves with political parties. An idea of a Christian Nationalist in America frightens many youth. Many of the political and social ideals do not match the next generation. While the Church should not change dogma for social approval, many non religious do not wish to align with religious ideas that do not align with contemporary social ideals. Many of those within religious organizations present an extremist view, as well as a hypocritical but still judgmental attitude. The alignment with religion with the “right” and any political party has helped isolate religion from many youth. Especially when, high ranking religious officials or politicians who claim religion show ill example in in public scandals. This still does not mean the Christian Churches must bow doctrine to social norms but it needs to exchange dialogue on issues of homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion in a way that does not fall trap to hypocrisy, hate, or extremist views.
Spiritual but Not Religious
Many of the 30 percent who did not align themselves with any particular creed, or voiced uncertainty, have turned to spirituality. Within spirituality, individuals carve out their own religious beliefs and how they wish to speak with God. When spirituality is void of religion, the personal trek without an objective moral code, can lead one into many errors. One in essence can become a cafeteria Christian that creates and choose what rules one wishes to keep. Spirituality is key but when it is isolated from religion it becomes a faith of one. Likewise those who are religious but lack a spiritual life, are merely shells of the faith and usually utilize faith as a weapon or form of identity only.
Humanity is spiritual and most people thirst for spirituality and divine connection. With the religious extremism and abuse, coupled with the pandemic, and lack of family values within the church at its core level, the family, other spiritual options have appeared. These options many times allow individuals to match their faith with the social norms of the day and as well experiment with multiple religious ideals. New Age, Eastern religions, and other spiritual quests have driven people away from the Church due to its lack of presence and ability to combat the new “isms” and social norms of the day.
The Church needs to reform itself both in its Catholic and Protestant forms. Religious extremism and abuse need to be eradicated. The Church needs to offer real solutions but not from high pulpit but through example one person at a time. It needs to preach the message of Jesus without compromise to social norms, but with a authenticity, zeal, and intelligence. It needs to answer the scary questions but show that the Jesus’ way is one of love. It needs again to attract the youth to this mission. Exposing the lies of secularism and modern social norms can only be accomplished through a totally reformed Church that can clearly present the message of Christ. What Jesus has to offer is superior to any message today but somehow, somewhere, along the way, families stopped teaching it and those at the pulpit corrupted it. Reform and revitalization are key. The message of Christ can still excite the masses when it is properly utilized and presented. Christianity is not a nationalistic religion of the right, nor is it a judgmental and hateful creed, but one that adheres to the laws of Christ with love and compassion. I truly believe that if everyone truly properly understood the faith, participated in it, and experienced it, then the misconceptions, abuses, and hypocrisy that surrounds it would be dismissed.
While not proposing one law of morality over others in a pluralistic society, we still must acknowledge that religion and religion tied to family life increases civic and good moral behavior. While the atheist may blame religion for wars, the reality is wars would still exist, just another difference or secular doctrine would be used as an excuse. Religion has been misused many times for war, or by extremists to promote hate or division, but that does not mean religion is bad. Religious life is important, or at least a world code that ties one to some responsible duty to one’s neighbor. While faith is given to God, the by products it gives to one’s neighbor creates in a social contract.
Without faith, morality drops. The drop in the modern world of morality cannot be a coincidence with the drop of faith in the home.
If ever there was a need to restore the Christian Church in America, it is now. This does not only include reaching out to people and better presenting an option of why Christ and His laws are the way, but also by living by example. Christians need to set better examples and also present in a logically and non hateful way, why what the world offers is contrary to true happiness. Sometimes in dark hours, people return to God. With wars, famines and political divide, people may finally in the future start turning back to God. Till now, the numbers continue to dwindle.
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification. Christian Counselors and Pastoral Counselors can play a key role in education and guiding individuals in the faith. They can play a role in aiding the restoration of the faith in the modern world. AIHCP offers an online and independent study certification for qualified individuals seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling.
“Modeling the Future of Religion in America”. (2022). Pew Research Center. Access here
“Generation Z and the Future of Faith in America”. Cox, D. (2022). Survey Center on American Life. Access here
“The Great Decline: 60 years of religion in one graph”. RNS. Access here
“People everywhere believe society’s morals are in decline”. Wilcox, J. (2023). Science. Access here