Maybe your’ve read the headlines in the past few days about a Pew Research study on the religious landscape of America that was released this week. This study of 35,000 American adults between 2007 and 2014 has caused many commentators to claim that the religious in America are rapidly being replaced by the “the Nones,” or people who claim no religious beliefs. Read a summary of five key findings of the Pew “Religious Landscape Study” here.
What does this mean for us at Restoration? First, of all Christianity Today magazine broke down some of the findings here with a specific eye toward what it means for Evangelical Christians. There are fewer people calling themselves Christians in America but those who do still claim faith are more active now than they were in 2007 when the study began. The percentage of Christians who report that they read the Bible, participate in Bible study, and share their faith with others has actually risen. While some interpret this study as a sign that religion is dying in America, it seems clear that Evangelical Christianity is showing signs of health and vitality.
Last May, when the first round of findings from this study were released, Ed Setzer, the Executive Director of Lifeway Research, responded to what was widely reported as “the death of religion in America.” In his words,
“The big trends are clear, the nominals are becoming the nones, yet the convictional are remaining committed.
In other words, Americans whose Christianity was nominal—in name only—are casting aside the name. They are now aligning publicly with what they’ve actually not believed all along.
The percentage of convictional Christians remains rather steady, but because the nominal Christians now are unaffiliated the overall percentage of self-identified Christians is decline. This overall decline is what Pew shows—and I expect it to accelerate.
As I have said before, not one serious researcher thinks Christianity in America is dying. What we see from Pew is not the death-knell of Christianity, but another indication that Christianity in America is being refined.”