Pew Study Perspectives
May 14, 2015
The Pew Research Centers released its latest report on religion in America, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” on Tuesday May 12. Since then, the news and religious media have been full of commentary and opinion. Below are three excerpts that have ties to United Methodism, and to the Western North Carolina Conference:
Christians lose ground, ‘nones’ soar in new portrait of US religion (Religion News Service) This article was written by Cathy Lynn Grossman who specializes on stories drawn from research and statistics. This excerpt was taken from a section early in the piece. The percentage of people who describe themselves as Christians fell about 8 points — from 78.4 to 70.6. This includes people in virtually all demographic groups, whether they are “nearing retirement or just entering adulthood, married or single, living in the West or the Bible Belt,” according to the survey report. State by state and regional data show:
- Massachusetts is down on Catholics by 10 percentage points. South Carolina is down the same degree on evangelicals.
- Mainline Protestants, already sliding for 40 years or more, declined all over the Midwest by 3 to 4 percentage points.
- The Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church, the country’s two largest Protestant denominations, are each down roughly the same 1.4 to 1.5 percentage points.
- Every tradition took a hit in in the West as the number of people who claim no religious brand continues to climb.
Millennials leaving church in droves, study finds (CNN)
This article was written by Daniel Burke, CNN's Religion Editor. This excerpt was from a conversation with Greg Jones of Duke Divinity School that appeared at the end.
But Christian leaders still bear some responsibility for not connecting with younger believers, said L. Gregory Jones, a senior strategist for leadership education at Duke University in North Carolina.
Many young Christians seemed bored by church, he said, pointing to youth ministers as particularly ineffective at piquing millennials' intellectual interests. One study cited by Jones showed that nearly 70% of full-time youth ministers have no theological education.
"Christianity in the United States hasn't done a good job of engaging serious Christian reflection with young people, in ways that would be relevant to their lives."
Instead, many Christian denominations have been riven by internal struggles over homosexuality, particularly in the last decade. While most millennials back gay rights, according to separate surveys, they are more interested in working with the wider world than holding endless debates over sexual morality, Jones said.
"If it is the case that millennials are less 'atheists' than they are 'bored,' then serious engagements with Christian social innovation, and with deep intellectual reflection (and these two things are connected), would offer promising signs of hope," Jones said.