What Does The Decline In American Christians Mean For The US?

Explore the changing demographics of American Christians and the significance of Easter in modern-day society. Dive into the numbers.
Gallen35, via Wikimedia Commons

As millions of Americans prepare for the beginning of Spring and all that comes with it, many are gearing up for one of the biggest Christian holidays on the calendar. Easter brings about fun family activities like egg rolls, Easter egg hunts, and copious amounts of chocolate candy.

For the more devout households, it is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with even those Christians who don’t attend church regularly donning their newest Easter outfits to make their way to a local place of worship to celebrate the culmination of the Holy Week. However, in the last few years, trends have indicated that American Christians may be finding themselves in the minority in the United States for the first time in history.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

Christians – Losing Our Religion?

In the 1990s, about 90% of U.S. adults were Christians, compared to today, when only about two-thirds of U.S. adults identify as Christians. Experts argue that the United States is on track to have fewer than half of Americans identifying as Christians by the mid-2030s.

Additionally, the percentage of Americans who consider themselves regular members of a place of worship fell below 50% in 2020, notably the first time since the Gallup Poll’s eight decades of measuring the statistic. That year, the percentage of Americans who were regular members of a house of worship was 47% compared to the first year Gallup reported the percentage in 1937 when it was 73%.

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These numbers might not seem alarming to some of us who live in a rural part of the country or don’t have the type of schedule that allows for regular church patronage. Still, when one dives deeper into the statistics, it does not look too good for religion as a whole.

In 2020, the percentage of Americans who claimed to have no religious preference was 21%, a sharp increase from just 20 years prior when only 8% of Americans said they were without a religious affiliation. Do these numbers indicate that our nation, once founded on the principles of Christianity and the concept that rights are bestowed upon humanity by our divine creator, is heading toward a decline into godlessness?

Labels Are So Last Generation

The data tells a story that could be seen as fairly depressing for Christianity and pastors across the country. A Pew Research Center study found that about 30% of Americans are considered “nones,” which comprise a compilation of atheists, agnostics, or the predominant crowd signified as “nothing in particular.”

This group of “nones” isn’t necessarily anti-God or anti-religion. In fact, the study found that most “nones” believe in God or some form of a higher power but don’t attend services.

Most of the “nones” believe religion can sometimes cause societal harm, but also acknowledge that religion can and does do some good for society. Even still, many “nones,” while generally favorable towards science, will admit that there are some things in this world that science can’t explain.

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It would appear that at least for the bulk of the 30% of “nones,” the issue isn’t with God but more so with the man-made and operated institutions of God. Another statistic pointing to this intriguing split between your typical parishioner and believers in God comes from the difference between those who consider themselves spiritual and religious.

The Pew Research Center found that 41% of Americans admit they have become more spiritual as of late versus just 24% who say they have become more religious.

Is Something Missing?

I did not grow up in a religious or spiritual house. My maternal grandparents were churchgoers, but I can count on one hand how many times I attended services as a child.

It wouldn’t be until I joined the military that I would become more spiritual, as facing the possibility of death is often a catalyst for a desire to be closer to a higher power. I have always believed in God and still do, but my connection to faith and church has evolved due to my lived experiences.

Well into my 30s, when I became a mother, I became more religious. I desired a connection to a community that shared my beliefs and values, which is a large part of what going to a place of worship is all about.

I firmly believe I do not require a set location to have an audience with God; I speak to him daily and often all day. But gathering with like-minded Christians and sharing in our belief in Him and in our daily struggle to be less sinful is a special component of society at large and something the United States should be mindful not to lose.

USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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