The religious American (updated 12/11)
Pew has an interesting new survey out today on religious beliefs and practices. Like it or not, post-modernism is here. Structures are meaning less and less, and function more and more.
Americans are more likely to attend church outside their denominations than before. One-fifth of Catholics now do so, and about a fourth of Prots. It seems a grassroots ecumenicism is well underway.
But beliefs too have become amalgamated, with Christianity being blended with things like Eastern meditation and astrology. (If you’re one of the 22%(!) of American Christians who believe in reincarnation, you might want to chew on this for a while.)
I think it makes sense that along with the depreciation of structure comes an intensification of personal religion. Virtually half the population now claims to have had some sort of religious awakening. Even 30% of non-church-affiliated say so. This is a major increase over past decades.
There’s a very interesting chart halfway down the page, relating syncretistic beliefs to various social parameters. In general, beliefs contrary to Christianity, such as astrology and reincarnation, are held, in no particular order, by liberals, democrats, blacks, Catholics, females, and the young. The most orthodox tend to be white, conservative, republican, male, and over 65. I find the age disparity troublesome; hopefully the younger generation just needs to get its theological explorations out of their system.
Personal religion is increasing, barriers ecclesial and theological are breaking down. But errant beliefs and practices are making their way into the church. There’s both good and bad happening here. The task before us is to sort it out and find a way for the church to be effective and true. As in the secular world, many believe our church institutions as well are failing us. One response is the MRI model of the church.
- separate Gallup poll confirms political correlations.
- video: Jews, Non-Religious Most Likely to Approve of Obama
- Gallup again: Fewer Americans Give Clergy High Honesty, Ethics Ratings