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The Spirit of Seventy-Six

» Washington Post: 15 Percent of Americans Have No Religion

Interesting findings here ... and I'm sure there's more than a few tangents of this story that could spark conversation. For my own interest:

The percentage of Americans who call themselves Christians has dropped dramatically over the past two decades, and those who do are increasingly identifying themselves without traditional denomination labels, according to a major study of U.S. religion being released today.

The survey of more than 54,000 people conducted between February and November of last year showed that the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians has dropped to 76 percent of the population, down from 86 percent in 1990. Those who do call themselves Christian are more frequently describing themselves as "nondenominational" "evangelical" or "born again," according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

...

The survey reflects a key question that demographers, sociologists and political scientists have been asking in recent years: Who makes up this growing group of evangelicals? Forty-four percent of America's 77 million Christian adults say they are born again or evangelical. Meanwhile, 18 percent of Catholics also chose that label, as did 40 percent of mainline Christians.

"If people call themselves 'evangelical,' it doesn't tell you as much as you think it tells you about what kind of church they go to," Silk said. "It deepens the conundrum about who evangelicals are."

I could probably devote an entire blog to this concept, alone. For now, I resign myself to a "sigh." Not out of frustration that all these supposedly God-fearing folk don't share every odd belief that I do. But rather, because for all of the occasional blips of interest in "unity," it seems that there are about as many definitions of what that means for a church body as there presently are denominations, anti-denominations, and other subsets of believers.

It can be convenient to look at trends such as this, contemplate the notion of "unity" and then proceed to lecture, harangue, and brow-beat others into following the "unity" that you prescribe. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen this tactic on display ... and it's usually there on any given day. What I've not seen is an open, honest discourse on "unity" that begins with more questions than answers.



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