How Important is Religion in America?

Imagine if all American adults were represented by a town comprised of only 100 people.  In this small community, what would religion look like? Earlier this month the Pew Research Center published an article by Aleksandra Sandstrom and Becka A. Alper that answered the question by providing infographics built from data about religious beliefs and behaviors based on the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study. For the question, "How important is religion?" the respondents answered: very: Read More …

America’s Most Charitable Cities

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published its annual "How America Gives" special report.  It includes information about the most charitable large cities (only the 50 largest metropolitan areas were considered) in the United States based on how much people within the city give to charitable causes.   Within this list: only 2 cities had giving rates of 5% or greater, 7 of the top 10 cities had higher giving rates in 2012 than in 2006, and the bottom half of the cities featured Read More …

Thankful America Is Not a Christian Nation

On this Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful that America is not a Christian nation.  Parker Palmer, a best selling author, regularly dispenses incredible wisdom in his writings.  In a Huffington Post Thanksgiving article, Palmer shares why he is "grateful that America is not and cannot be a Christian nation."  More specifically, he argues that historical and present-day reality clearly show that America is not a Christian nation: Lack of a government established church Disconnect Read More …

What is Freedom?

Roger Olson, professor of theology at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, wrote an article in the October 2012 edition of Christianity Today exploring how different the popular American view of freedom is from the biblical view (p.35-38). No truth is more pervasive in Scripture and Christian tradition than this one – that real freedom is found in obedience and servanthood.  And yet no truth is more incongruous with modern culture.  Here we stand before a stark Read More …

Largest & Fastest Growing Churches

Outreach Magazine's new special issue focused on the largest and fastest growing churches in America is packed with information.  While I always look at the lists of the 100 fastest growing and the 100 largest congregations (based on worship attendance), this year I was struck by the classification of the congregations making both lists.  More specifically, both lists are dominated by churches characterized as nondenominational or interdenominational.  They comprise 47 of the 100 largest Read More …

Review of Sacred Ground

Meet the Author Eboo Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit that seeks to make interfaith cooperation a social norm.  He is the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation (2010), and is a regular contributor to the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Huffington Post.  He served on President Obama's inaugural Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Read More …

The Church in 2020 – Major Changes Ahead

I have spent a considerable amount of time studying the landscape of American Christianity since the 1950s.  Any time I make a presentation on the topic, people always ask about the future.  In order to more fully answer those questions I devised a list of changes I believe to be most likely.  The original list was created in 2006, before I entered the blogosphere. When I revised the list and turned it into a "top ten" in 2009, I published it on my blog.  In light of significant changes in Read More …

How Important is Religion?

Bradley Wright is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut.  His two most recent books are Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites . . . and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media (included in my Top 10 Books of 2010) and Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World (read my review here).  Recently he blogged about an important question:  "Is religion less important now than it used to be?" To answer Read More …

Volunteering in America

Last week a federal report was released providing a wealth of information about volunteerism in America.  The report is based on data "collected through a supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) September Volunteer Supplement. The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households (approximately 100,000 adults), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics." The executive summary of the 2010 data contains the following: In 2010, the national volunteer Read More …

Where Have All the Catholics Gone?

Established in 1964, the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) is the largest independent print and web Catholic news source in the United States.  Recently, the NCR published an article by Fr. Thomas Reese, former editor in chief of America, exploring the massive numbers of people who have left the Catholic church in recent years.  He frames the issue thusly: The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has put hard numbers on the anecdotal Read More …