Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Actor Denzel Washington: "Put God First"---Public Says "No"?

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In the commencement speech Sunday at Dillard University, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington told the graduates to "put God first" in everything they do---adding everything he has accomplished in his life was due to "the grace of God."

But is the public, particularly the young, saying "no" to Washington's appeal?

A new Pew Research survey released yesterday concludes, "The share of US residents who identify as Christian has shrunk over the past seven years while adults unaffiliated with organized religion now represent a larger portion of the public."

The secular progressives are taking great comfort in what this could mean, but let's take a closer look.

Students at the historically Black Dillard University enjoyed Denzel Washington's comments Sunday.

Washington, who was receiving an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters, said he was going to "keep it short" unlike some speakers who go "on and on, blah, blah, blah."

And he did.

He recounted a conversation with his mom shortly after he became famous---and was getting rich. He said, "Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I'd be so big and I'll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that."

Denzel says his mom said, "Boy, stop it right there, stop it right there. Stop it right there." She said, "If you only knew how many people been praying for you. How many prayer groups I've put many prayer talks I've given..."

She told her son, "Oh, you did it all by yourself. I'll tell you what you can do by yourself: Go outside and get a mop and bucket and clean those windows---you can do that by yourself, superstar."

His message was short as promised and primarily focused on dependence on God, and on giving God the glory for any personal accomplishments.

In conclusion he said, "I pray that you put your slippers under your bed tonight, so that when you wake in the morning you have to get on your knees to reach them."

"And while you're down there, say thank you," he said. "Thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents...True desire in the heart for anything good is God's proof to you, sent before hand, to indicate that it's yours already."

But is this generation embracing that message? Do they get it? And if not, why?

The Pew Research survey published yesterday is extensive, showing that there is an overall decline
among those representing they are "Christian." Pew reports that 70.6% report they are "Christian," but that is down from 78.4% in 2007.

This is being used by secular progressives to affirm what they have worked and hoped for.

The New York Times reports, "Big Drop in Share Calling Themselves Christians."

Salon, the far left progressive publication (read by millions), asks hopefully, "Is Christianity Toast?"

On it's face, that could appear to be true, but in the heart of the matter, there may well be a very different message than that seen by both polls and progressives.

Keep in mind, according to this survey, there are still 173 million adults in the US who identify as "Christians." The United States remains home to more Christians than any country in the world---by far.

The Pew study also reveals that the real decline is in the mainline churches, both Catholic and Protestant.

The number of "evangelical" Christians was down just under 1% statistically, but was up in raw numbers according to the survey.

The survey also shows that the adherence to Islam had the most statistical growth rising by 0.5%, however, Muslims still represent only 0.9% of adults in the United States, yet the more left progressive publications are reporting the Muslim growth as "massive," "significant" and "robust."

It's also important to keep in mind that Pew found many of those who checked the "none" box regarding church affiliation say they still believe in God, they are simply not "affiliated" with a particular church or religious group at this time.

Three things:

  • The report says 85% of US adults were raised in Christian households, which indicate about a quarter of them have drifted away from the faith. Consider that through the lens of this truth: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

  • The report found that there has been a rise in religious intermarriages, which Pew says appears to be linked with the growth of the religiously unaffiliated. About 4 in 10 or 39% since 2010. By comparison, that number was only 19% until 1960.

    The difference in "religious affiliation" may be cause for those married couples to not be involved with either former church, it does not mean they have forsaken their core beliefs, and statistics say a high percentage of those in this group would have been from a Christian church, therefore would hold to some degree, Christian values. This will become more important as couples begin to raise their children. I believe many, not all, but many will find a Christian church affiliation that works for both parents.

  • The New York Times, Salon and other left progressive publications are giving much weight to the fact that the "substantial," as they report it, decline in Christianity in America is being caused by the conservative politics held by most conservative "Christians." The NYT's says, "The declining number of self-identified Christians could be the result of a political backlash against the association of Christianity with conservative political values."

The problem with their hope in this matter is that the decline is clearly in the mainline Christian denominations that are far more apt to support liberal, progressive politics and values.

Jim Wallis and others of the "Christian left" are the standard bearers for social justice, government expansion and other progressive left agendas. They council President Obama, not the Republican Party. They speak for and to the mainline protestant churches.

Those churches are the ones experiencing the steep decline in affiliation.

While they are correct, there is a linkage between many evangelical Christians and the Republican Party, it is not the evangelicals who are becoming the "nones" in regard to religious affiliation, it is those in the mainline churches.

It appears the Times and other progressive oracles fail, or refuse, to understand that we evangelicals are not nearly as incestuous with the Republican Party as they like to claim, and the Party would probably like us to be.

Generally our degree of linkage is directly related to the Party support for our deeply held biblical values and beliefs. Should the Party forsake their support of those "social issues" as they like to call them, they would find themselves forsaken by millions--- tens of millions of evangelicals.

Biblical Christianity defines who we evangelicals are.

Politics and political parties are merely a vehicle to sustain and protect our freedoms and liberty by electing men and women who understand the importance of these values. And that directly affects how we value any political party.

After studying the Pew Report and reading a number of the far left publications, I think the publications are wishful thinking. Hopeful, but wrong. Christianity is not toast, but it's Founder is The Bread of Life.

Be Encouraged. Be Informed. Be Blessed.