Tobin Grant, political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, recently blogged about what he calls “The Great Decline” of American religion over the last two decades. From 1994-2014 Gallup surveys show significant declines in religious identity, worship attendance, membership in churches or other religious communities, religion’s importance in life, and religion’s relevance for today. When these five are considered together the result appears on the chart below.
This graphic fascinates me because it covers the time period of my adult life, and because it illustrates as clearly as any the rather steady decline in the significance of religion in the United States. Each of the five areas considered show a striking consistent drop of around 10% decline over the 20 year period.
- What is your initial reaction to the steady decline in these significant aspects of American religion over the last 20 years?
- How has your local church changed during this time period? Are most aspects of your church’s ministry and mission made for a 1994 culture or a 2014 culture?