Where the Church Failed

How did it come to this? – Theoden son of Thinger1

A recent data drop from the General Social Survey (GSS) revealed a startling fact. Based on their accumulation of data, the number of people who self-identify as having no religion now outnumber both mainline Christians and Catholics.  This new development is the latest in a long line of atheist increases in this country, which has led to a general downfall of morality.   Ultimately, the problem is not the rise of the atheists, however.  The problem is the church failed to do it’s job for a number of reasons.

Let’s look at the data. Based on the GSS data, people who claim not to be religious makeup just over 23% of the American population. That’s just slightly more than the amount of mainline Protestants in the United States and the number of Catholics in the United States.  What would be considered evangelical protestants still slightly outnumber the atheists according to the data, at around 25 percent. However. when this data is adjusted for age, it gets much worse.  In the youngest age bracket in the survey, 18-34, people who self-identify as non-religious the percentage of the general population is 34%. By contrast, evangelical Christians among the same age bracket are only 19%. This has dropped 9% since 2008.

I probably don’t have to explain to most of my readers what this means. The church will effectively be extinct in twenty years if it drops at the same rate it has since 2008.  By contrast, in that same period of time,  people identifying as non-religious will number nearly fifty percent of the population if they continue to increase at the same rate.  The church has utterly failed.

As the quote at the top of the page asked, how did it come to this? How did we get here? There are a number of answers to this question. Perhaps the primary one is the abandonment of the authority of the Scripture starting in Genesis. I’ve hammered on this point before so I won’t belabor it too heavily here, but I will point out that the explanation of the origin that best fits with atheism is evolution. Since many Christians and heretics have been teaching the church that you can adapt the Bible to fit millions of years and evolution, many young people have grown up exposed to this false version of Christianity. As they get older, they recognize the disconnect between evolution, long ages, and the Bible, and, since they have been conditioned to trust scientists, they walk away, thinking the Bible must be wrong.

However, there is a second problem. We make a huge mistake when we look at kids as being naive and impressionable. This is true, but kids also have an intuitive sense about people and can spot a hypocrite a mile away.  Since they are young and idealistic, hypocrisy is the biggest possible turn off to them And, let’s be honest, most of the people in churches are hypocrites to one degree or another. Kids notice. Kid’s hear and see things.   The last thing they should see from Christians is the level of blatant hypocrisy common in a lot of churches.

The opposite it true in some other churches. People have their lives mostly in order and are not being hypocritical about their own sin, they’re being hypocritical about other people’s sin. Let me explain that.  I’ve met some Christians who are filled with vitriol towards people who are unsaved, particularly certain cults that call themselves Christian. This doesn’t help. After all, if it were not for the grace of God, we’d all be just as lost.  Attacking people of other religions does not help promote the Gospel of Christ. Our goal is not to win an argument. Winning arguments is not the same as changing hearts.

I will be returning to this concept in the upcoming days. The church desperately needs to change what it is doing. It does not need to change doctrine. It needs to change how it teaches and presents to doctrines, or return to the Bible and actually stand for something again.  Until it does that, it doesn’t take a genius to predict atheism will continue to grow in this country and Christianity will continue to shrink.






  1. I commented much the same recently, to a hidebound Bible-thumper. I told him that his attitude and claims actually gave Atheists ammunition, and made the rest of us look like fools. I have yet to be flamed, and will be disappointed, but not surprised when it happens. 😦


    1. I suspect if you follow me long enough you’ll be making similar statements about me. 🙂 I freely admit to being someone who considers the Bible the ultimate authority on every topic it mentions and takes a very serious approach to its application. That said, it does not mean the church has made every decision correctly, nor does it mean that there are not improvements which can be made within the church to stop the bleeding as it were.


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