Religious Benefits

The latest research by Gallup (more than 676,000 interviews conducted in 2010 & 2011) finds "very religious Americans of all major faiths have higher overall wellbeing than do their respective counterparts who are moderately religious or nonreligious." The following chart shows how specific groups fared by degree of religiosity: In the overall rankings when religions are considered as a whole (across the varying degrees of religiosity), Jews rank highest, Christians are in the Read More …

American Religion from 1970 to 2010

America is a rather religious country.  The chart below (Religions of the World, p. 3002) provides an overview of American religion in 1970 and in 2010 alongside data about what percentage of the population each group comprised in 2010 and the annual growth rate for each during the most recent decade.   So What? Despite the increases in religious pluralism, more than 4 in 5 Americans were Christian in 2010. Are you surprised to learn that Protestants declined in total Read More …

From Death to Life – Mainline Decline

David Henson recently wrote a guest post on Bruce Reyes-Chow's site  suggesting that the best approach to the deathly ill group of denominations known as mainline Protestantism is realistic hope.  Henson does not propose a new way forward that will reverse the decades of decline.  Instead he suggests that those aware of death's nearness are more likely to act boldly and that for Christians and the mainline there is life beyond death.  He ends the article with these words: Because when we Read More …

Taking Advantage of Mainline Decline

Emmy Award winning journalist Chris Yaw is an Episcopal priest who effectively blends his expertise in media and ministry with his passion for building healthier congregations in his new creation: ChurchNext. Recently he interviewed me on the topic of the continued decline of mainline Protestantism in America.  You can view the video or download a mp3 here. So What? Yaw asked me the kind of questions congregational leaders should be discussing as they consider what it means to be a part Read More …

Restoring the Protest to Protestantism

Dianna Butler Bass  is the author of seven books, a sought after speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture.  Earlier this year she blogged about the need to restore the idea of protest within Protestantism. Bass places the current situation in context: in recent years the percentage of Americans who self-identity as Protest has declined from roughly 2/3 to 1/2.  Furthermore, Protestantism has "often been torn between the impulse to protest (the abolition Read More …

Liberal Protestant Decline – Fact Check

Yesterday, I wrote a review of Mark Chaves' new book American Religion: Contemporary Trends (2011).  In that post, I included  a quote that offers a basic overview of something most people take for granted: the decline of liberal Protestant churches over the last several decades.  As a result of this shift, there were twice as many Americans who "claimed affiliation with conservative denominations as with theologically more liberal ones" (p. 87). Chaves goes on to debunk the commonly held Read More …

Review of The World’s Christians

Meet the Author Douglas Jacobsen has taught at Messiah College in Grantham, PA since 1984.  Currently he serves as  Distinguished Professor of Church History and Theology.  Jacobsen is a member of the United Church of Christ and serves on the Theological Commission of the UCC Penn Central Conference.  Jacobsen is the author of several books including Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation (with Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, 2004) and The World's Christians: Who they are, Where Read More …

One Big Step for the PCUSA – Many Opinions

After many years of debate and movement toward change, this denomination has now reached the point at which it is certain that effective July 10, 2011, "a person in a same gender relationship can be considered for ordination as deacon, elder, or Minister of the Word and Sacrament."  This news comes after many years of discussion and attempted change. So What? I grew up in a Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregation.  It was at First Presbyterian Church in Arlington, TX that I was confirmed, sensed 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 …

Reshaping Seminary Education

Earlier this month, I wrote "A Shift in Theological Education" to highlight the shift in seminary education from primarily an on campus face-to-face learning experience to one that includes hybrid (using both face-to-face and online components) or online courses.  This shift mirrors what has happened in higher education more generally where online enrollment grew 20% over the most recently available seven year period from 9% to 29%. Interestingly, The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. Read More …