The Rise of Secular America

“Society is increasingly secular.”

Most of us have all probably heard this said around our families, friends, and churches. But is it true? Here, I’ll provide solid evidence confirming the fears of many Christian families that, yes, the U.S. and the western world are less religious now than our parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

In 1948, 91% of Americans called themselves Christian (Catholic or Protestant). Contrast this to 2017 data, indicating that just 68% of Americans claimed to be Christian. While the number of Catholics within that category has remained fairly constant (between 21% and 28%) over this time span, the Protestant churches have bled members left and right, and even fractured further into “newer” denominations, such as “non-denominational” [1].

On the other hand, atheism has grown significantly, from just 2% to now over 20%.

An article by Christianity Today detailed the findings of a study on segments of Christianity. The study found that 19% of Christians are considered “Active Christians”, fitting the usual Protestant idea of Christians that live their faith. Similarly, 20% were found to be “Professing Christians”, those that believe but do not generally bring their faith beyond the confines of their home or close circles. Another 16% are termed “Liturgical Christians”, typically comprising active Catholic, Orthodox, and Episcopalian Christians. Then, there are 24% falling in to the “Private Christians” camp, those that generally believe in God and doing what’s right but do not act on their faith beyond that. Lastly, 21% are simply “Cultural Christians”, nothing more than Christian in name [2].

So, within those 68% of Americans that call themselves Christian, only three (in my opinion) of the above Christian categories (“Active”, “Professing”, and “Liturgical”… with some wiggle room for “Private”) are truly Christian. This means even less than 68% are really Christian (the percentage then reduces to between 38% and 54%).

Indeed, as a people, we are not a Christian nation anymore. Consider for a moment how society has changed for the worse since post-WWII America:

  • Divorce rates have skyrocketed.
  • Nudity and even pornography on TV is commonplace (think Game of Thrones, The Witcher series on Netflix).
  • School prayer has been displaced by silence in the name of multiculturalism.
  • Teachers are shunning the history of Western Civilization and taking it for granted.
  • Mega-churches have risen and turned the house of God into an entertainment theater.
  • Music lyrics has devolved into slam-poetry style endorsements for violence and immoral behaviors.
  • A culture of death has emerged, resulting in the legalization of abortion and assisted-suicide (in some places).
  • The embracing of modern gender theory as true and its social implications.
  • etc.

Not only have the number of Christian’s declined, but these facts – each an assault upon a moral Christian – have taken firm hold in our culture. There is quite a long road to restoring a moral culture.

For nearly three hundred years, Christians held the majority of the American population and thus drove the culture. Yes, our country has struggled with moral issues in the past, but never has such an acceptance of immoral behavior so rapidly overtaken us. 

If we can’t fight back against this secularization of culture, where will it take us as a country? Where is the end of this downward spiral?

Sources

[1] Gallup data from https://news.gallup.com/poll/1690/religion.aspx

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_the_United_States

[3] Another great source with lots of detailed data: https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/

Published by Christian Bottenfield

Catholic | Father of two | Husband | Engineer | Founder of ThinkingWest blog

3 thoughts on “The Rise of Secular America

  1. I think you’ve all had enough time to produce the desired results. Christianity is merely a prop that has gone nowhere far too long. A change in the guard should be welcome. You really should have nothing to fear if you actually have any faith at all. What’s really telling is many, many people live very well, even better more fulfilled lives than western society, illustrating how terribly, un special your beliefs actually are.

    Like

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