Americans Feel More Positive About Most Religions

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, between June 2014 and January 2017, American views shifted to become more positive about about most of the world's great religions.  More specifically, survey respondents were asked to to rate a variety of groups on a “feeling thermometer” that ranged from 0 to 100 (with higher numbers reflecting warmer or more positive feelings). Respondents warmed to several religions during this two and a half year period, including Atheists Read More …

Seminary Size – Evangelicals are #1

How large is large when it comes to a seminary student body in America? The primary accrediting body, Association of Theological Schools (ATS), accredited 246 institutions during the 2015-16 school year with an enrollment of just over 37,000 students (full-time equivalent) in the USA. Earlier this month Chelsen Vicari mined the ATS data to determine the largest seminaries in the USA.  Based on full-time enrollment numbers for the 2015-16 school year she found The top ten Read More …

Top Religions by State

There are many ways to look at America's top religions. The Public Religion Research Institute's new American Values Atlas offers a helpful way to consider the religious makeup of the United States on both a national and state level. National Perspective As a whole the top three religions in our country are Catholic - 22% Religiously unaffiliated - 22% White Evangelical Protestants - 18%. Personal Experience I have spent my life in Texas and Florida.  The largest religion Read More …

Racism: A Mainline Reality

Meet the Researcher Bradley (Brad) Wright is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut where he studies American Christianity and spirituality.   He is the author of two books: Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites… and Other Lies You’ve Been Told (2010 - my review), and Upside: Surprising Good News about the State of Our World (2011 - my review).   Research Overview Wright and another researcher researched how Christian churches in the United States Read More …

Fewer and Fewer Christians (& Even Fewer Mainline Protestants)

In 2007 the Pew Research Center conducted their initial U.S. Religious Landscape Study.  The 2014 edition, published earlier today, shows Christianity declined by 8% in America over the last seven years (78.4% to 70.6%).  Allowing for the margin of error, this means the number of Christian adults in the U.S. has shrunk by somewhere between 2.8 million and 7.8 million. Decline Impacts All Christian Traditions Mainline Protestants and Catholics top the list for experiencing the greatest Read More …

Review: Did God Kill Jesus?

Meet the Author I have quoted Tony Jones on this blog a few times (Proposed Inaugural Benedictions, The Future of Seminary Education, and Incarnational Christian) over the years.  Tony is is an ordained minister in the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches with a Ph.D. from Princeton Seminary (2011) best known for his role in helping launch what has become known as the emergent church movement.  Currently he serves as theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Read More …

Am I a Christian?

Christianity is the world's largest religion. Nearly 1 in 3 people (31.5%) are Christian. In 2011 following extensive research, Pew released "Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population." They found: About half of all Christians worldwide are Catholic (50%), while more than a third are Protestant (37%). Orthodox communions comprise 12% of the world’s Christians. Other Christian groups, which make up the remaining 1%, include the Church of Jesus Read More …

Shifts in Religious Affiliation (1972-2012)

The changing role of religion in American culture is a popular topic of conversation among religious leaders.  Those leaders situated within Mainline Protestantism (a tradition I claim as my own) are talking more openly than ever before about decline.  Even the names used to describe the tradition increasingly recognize that the decline is both about diminishing numbers of adherents (Oldline) and a more marginalized role (Sideline).  While I am encouraged by increased attention given to the Read More …

The Day the Mainline Disappeared

According to a new Pew Research Survey: People think more positively about their own religious groups, or about groups that their friends belong to, and On a scale of warmest/most positive feelings to coolest/least positive feelings, Americans have warm feelings toward Jews, Catholics and Evangelical Christians, neutral feelings about Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons, and cooler feelings toward Muslims and atheists. While this data is interesting, it is also troubling.  As a lifelong Read More …

America the Religiously Diverse

Last week's graphic of the week from the Public Religion Research Institute is titled America the Diverse.  In the days since it was posted, I have returned to it several times and referenced it in multiple conversations. So What? The information contained on this graphic isn't news to those who follow generational trends.  It is, however, important data for congregational leaders to consider as they plan for the future. Currently, I serve two mainline congregations comprised primarily Read More …