The Christian Post’s series “Leaving Christianity” explores the reasons why many Americans are rejecting the faith they grew up with. In this eight-part series, we feature testimonies and look at trends, church failures and how Christians can respond to those who are questioning their beliefs. This is part 3. Read parts 1 and 2.
Earlier this year Joshua Harris, pastor and author of the controversial book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced that he no longer considered himself a Christian.
“By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now,” he stated in an Instagram post.
Soon after, Hillsong music writer Marty Sampson took to social media to explain that he was seriously questioning his Christian beliefs.
“I’m genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn’t bother me. Like, what bothers me now is nothing. I am so happy now, so at peace with the world. It’s crazy,” Sampson wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.
Even before notable Christian figures like Harris and Sampson made headlines, it had been well-documented that Christianity in America has been declining while those who identify as “religiously unaffiliated” or “nones,” have been on the rise.
In 2012, the Pew Research Center garnered many headlines and fostered much discussion when they reported a rise in the population of Americans who were religiously unaffiliated.
“In the last five years alone,” explained Pew in an October 2012 piece, “the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults.”
“Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent).”
Earlier this month, Pew released a new report which found that the decline was continuing at what it called a “rapid pace.”
In surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, Pew found that 65 percent of Americans described themselves as Christian, a 12 percent decline over the past decade.
By contrast, during the same time period, the religiously unaffiliated category went from 17 percent in 2009 to 26 percent a decade later.
“Religious ‘nones’ are growing faster among Democrats than Republicans, though their ranks are swelling in both partisan coalitions,” explained Pew.
“And although the religiously unaffiliated are on the rise among younger people and most groups of older adults, their growth is most pronounced among young adults.”
According to the Public Religious Research Institute’s annual American Values Atlas, which features over 60,000 interviews a year, the number of Americans who have identified as white and Christian has declined from 54 percent in 2008 to 41 percent in 2018.
PRRI also found that the number of Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated went from single digits in the 1990s to 25 percent of the population in the present day.
A recent report from Pinetops Foundation estimated, based upon data from Pew, Gallup, PRRI and Baylor, that between 26-42 million people raised in Christian homes will disaffiliate from Christianity by 2050.
The Christian Post interviewed multiple experts on Americans leaving Christianity and looked at some of the most recent research to see what major trends have emerged.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski