Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Decline And Fall Of Christian America. Did Newsweek Get It Right?

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Yesterday I incorrectly said that the Day of Silence was scheduled for this Thursday. It is scheduled for this Friday. I have linked an article that shows the typical "hands off" posture many school boards and administrators are taking. This one is from Mount Si High School.

The Decline And Fall Of Christian America. Did Newsweek Get It Right?

You have likely seen or heard of the feature cover article Newsweek magazine published Easter week proclaiming, "The Decline and Fall of Christian America".

However, a survey taken the same week by Rasmussen suggests that Newsweek may not be correctly interpreting what they themselves refer to as "a small detail" in a 24-page report they are using as the basis for their Easter week story.

Belief in Jesus Christ, His ministry and His deity is actually on the increase.

Jon Meacham in his story for Newsweek has taken a "small detail, a point of comparison" from a 24-page summary of the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey and built a feature story that may reflect as much about the media as it does about "Christian America".

Meacham points to a comparison in the report that says, "The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points since 1990," uses the concerns of several Christian leaders, points to the recent defeats in the culture battle and concludes that we have reached, "The end of Christian America" and are "Beyond a Christian nation, the Christian God is not dead in American life, but he is less of a force in our politics and culture than at any time in recent memory."

However, a Rasmussen Survey released last Saturday, found that:

79% of Americans believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

88% believe that the person known to history as Jesus Christ actually walked on the earth 2000 years ago---up five points from a year ago.

82% believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came to earth and died for our sins.

I can imagine a much greater feature story built around these findings than those chosen by Newsweek.

The media, Newsweek in this case, may be mis-reading some very important facts. While I'm not disputing their survey's finding, it seems odd to me that fewer people would identify themselves as "Christian" while declaring that they believe the very fundamental, core beliefs of Christianity. In fact we are taught biblically, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31) And in this case "saved" means becoming a Christian or follower of Christ.

It seems the belief in Jesus Christ is strong and growing. Perhaps Meacham and others are failing to properly define Christianity in current terms.

There are certainly local churches and denominations that are not growing and a number of them are in decline because people are discovering new and vibrant churches and church groups that are better suited to meet their needs and those of their families, but we should not conclude that Christianity is in decline because of these changing dynamics.

Perhaps the most poignant thing I personally took from Newsweek's epic of Easter is their conclusions about the culture.

People of faith have indeed experienced some set backs in electing leadership who reflect biblical values. There has been a significant shift toward the secular left with the election of Obama and a number of lawmakers across the nation, however much of this is serving as a wake up call to people of faith.

There have been lapses of cultural involvement by Christians in the past, however history, I believe, shows that when there is a rush toward the left, there is a corresponding response from people of faith and conservatives.

I believe that may well be under way at this time. We should not forget that people of faith and the Republican Party are not synonymous. People of faith are primarily principle and values driven, not politically driven.

I am certain it is premature to declare the Decline and Fall of Christian America.

Gary Randall
Faith & Freedom

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