Friday, May 29, 2015

Survey SAYS.... (Pew Research study on American religion)

Until the next travel/ outdoor adventure post drops next week, I'm sharing the front page article that I contributed to our June newsletter for Aloha Church of God.  My original piece was much longer.

Last month, I also shared the condensed version of my similarly-themed book review of The None Zone: Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest.  But normally, personal and faith-oriented posts like this week's would be featured on my other blog.

This past month, a Pew Research Center study found that the number of Americans who identified themselves as Christians declined by 8% from 2007-2014. Non-Christian religious groups saw a decline as well.  The only group who saw a significant increase was the nones, those who checked “none of the above” on the survey.

Some are rushing to defend the church from potentially misleading survey results, especially from the Evangelical camp.  After all, among the respondents who claimed to be Christians, the group who labeled themselves as Evangelicals actually saw an increase from 59.8 million to 62.2 million.  Though we as the Church of God (Anderson, IN) are not Evangelical, it is admittedly encouraging to read that any segment of the Christian church is experiencing an increase in numbers.  However, it’s still difficult to ignore the overall drop in respondents affiliated with Christianity.

Many people interpret these results as a clarification, rather than a decline, of Christian identity in America.  In this interpretation, “nominals” who have in the past been Christians “in name only” are finally being upfront and honest about their lack of Christian affiliation.  In other words, the number of Christians who are genuine and committed to following Christ has more or less remained steady.

However one reads these results, our mission as Aloha Church of God remains the same.  We are called to love, serve, and be a light in our local community.   We do not exist as the church to defend the institution of religion.  We do not exist to keep our numbers up, or to put a spin on the statistics.  And we certainly don’t exist to classify spiritual seekers with convenient labels such as “nominals” and “nones.”

We simply exist to love people, just as Christ loves us.

Posts about last month's Mount Hood climbs, recent hikes, overseas trips, and family happenings are all on the way!

On the summit of Mount Hood last month

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