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December 11, 2009

2

Religious but not committed

by Dave Malnes

A MacArthur Foundation survey found that large majorities of Americans say they’re religious and think spirituality is important, but that doesn’t translate into commitment to a single religion or house of worship. A USA Today article reported that more than seven out of 10 Americans surveyed said they are religious and consider spirituality to be an important part of their lives. However, about half attend religious services less than once a month or never. The findings also suggest that people are equally divided on whether it is best to explore different teachings or to follow one faith.

“Spirituality in the U.S. is a mile wide and an inch deep,” said David Kinnaman of the Barna Research Group. There is an all-time high in interest in spirituality, he said. “But people are beginning to develop a hybrid personal faith that integrates different perspectives from different religions that may even be contradictory. . . That doesn’t bother them.”

The lack of loyalty is found in other new research that shows about 40 to 45 percent of those attending Protestant churches on a given Sunday were raised in that denomination, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

Cultural anthropologist Elizabeth Bird said a “pressure to declare a belief” may account for the high percentages of people who declare that they are religious.

My generation of those between 45-55 belongs to a cultural group that declares an attachment to a particular religious group, but don’t take it too seriously. This is largely due to the pressure of not what society, places upon them, but the pressure placed on them from parents. Church membership is more of a loyalty than a heart issue. And now a new generation is coming up which do not feel the pressure from grandparents to remain loyal to a religious group or denomination. They are saying, “forget this!” and are either staying home or finding their own means of spirituality. In other words, they are being honest. And after growing up homes where there has been a lack of honesty in regards to religion – whereupon actions are not backing up words – who can blame them?

I think this proves that tradition is not a lasting when it comes to spirituality. For those who look upon religion and attend a church as a safety-net, meaning that if I go to church and appear religious and respectful to God, then I have a much better chance of going to heaven if I stay home. This no longer translates into the next generation where they are questioning beliefs, traditions and social norms. They want answers and are not afraid to ask questions, even if it appears disrespectful or anti-authority. And the question I pose for Christians is, “Are you prepared to give an answer? Are you backing up your answers with real living that consistently pattern of what is being taught in church?” We have run out of excuses and as a result, we live in a society where the salt of biblical truth is losing its saltiness. And like it says in the Bible, un-salty Christianity is no longer good for anything and is tossed along the side of the road.

We are entering into a new age where only the courageous Christians can dwell. Who is willing to stand up for what orthodox biblical Christianity – not only in words, but also in actions? In a climate of competing truths, who has the courage to stand up and state what is absolute? As the clouds of the gospel truth begin to drift away from North America, I wonder what history will record in the next twenty years?

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 11 2009

    I agree the next 20 years will likely bring further change–not for the better.

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  2. Dec 13 2009

    COMMITMENT requires radical faith based on the promised vision of the identity and authority of the Son of Man. (John 1: 47-51)

    RELIGION, on the other hand, is quite dated whether we know it or not! (Ibid, 4: 21-26)

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