‘Post-Christian’ beliefs gaining ground in US

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While most Americans refer to themselves as Christians, a study released Monday by Barna Group shows an upward trend in "post-Christian" beliefs and behaviours among the nation's adult population.


According to the study, which is an analysis of nearly 43,000 interviews conducted in recent years by the Ventura, Calif.-based organisation, more than 70 per cent of American adults describe themselves as Christians.

Only 63 per cent of people rank "low" on the Barna Group's post-Christian scale, however, while 28 percent are considered "moderately" post-Christian and nine percent are considered "highly" post-Christian.

The post-Christianity scale is based on 15 faith-related metrics researchers have tracked in recent years. Included in these metrics are measurements indicating the percentage of people who have not prayed to God in the last year (18 per cent), who haven't read the Bible in the last week (57 per cent), who don't consider faith an important part of their lives (13 per cent) and haven't been to a Christian church in the last year (33 per cent), among other things.

Individuals whose beliefs and behaviours matched nine or more of the 15 characteristics were labeled "post-Christian", while those who met 12 or more were labelled "highly post-Christian". David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, explained the purpose of trying to measure the level of post-Christianity in a statement on the group's website.

"First, we wanted to expand the scope of secularisation beyond what people call themselves," said Kinnaman. "Faith-oriented self-descriptions are fine, but they are really only skin-deep in terms of understanding faith. In addition to identity, we also wanted to account for two other critical aspects of faith: belief as well as behaviour.

Written By: Jeff Schapiro
continue to source article at christiantoday.com

15 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Post Christian is almost as good as atheist. Fundamentalist certainty is gone.

      A bold statement. Perhaps you could elaborate what your definition of “Fundamentalist” is, and how you can declare that it is gone with “certainty”. Curious to see your reply

  1. In order to call someone “post-Christian” it’s not enough to show that they’re not currently doing very many Christian activities. You also need to show that they USED to be Christian. The attempt to label unbelief as “post-” Christian contains the implicit assumption that Christian is the default starting point.

    • In reply to #2 by Steven Mading:

      In order to call someone “post-Christian” it’s not enough to show that they’re not currently doing very many Christian activities. You also need to show that they USED to be Christian. The attempt to label unbelief as “post-” Christian contains the implicit assumption that Christian is the default starting point.

      I would have assumed the interview was done with people who still labelled themselves christians? That is a measure of just what Christian means to most people. Which is a far more complicated thing than is sometimes assumed by new atheists.

      This Spectator article was also interesting in pointing out that many newer atheists are rejecting the old stereotypes promoted by the older new atheists and instead are recognising religion is a far more complex human behaviour than can be summed up with the simple old stereotypes of Muslims all should believe/do this, Catholics all should believe/do this and Christians all should believe/do this. They are taking a far more objective stance and are getting quite critical of old new atheism for no longer doing so by the looks of it.

      http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8885481/after-the-new-atheism/

      Fundamentalism hasn’t gone unfortunately but it is far from the complete or even majority picture in many places and cases.

      http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8885481/after-the-new-atheism/

  2. Well, they ‘done it to themselves’. If self-avowed American Christians had behaved more consistently with the teachings of the New Testament, and kept the hell out of government and being anti-f*king-everything, they might have wrung another century out of their mythology. But too many high-profile obnoxious groups and individuals have revealed the worst aspects of religion. One Westboro Baptist demonstration is worth a dozen debates when it comes to showing the warts on Christianity.

    • In reply to #3 by justinesaracen:

      Well, they ‘done it to themselves’. If self-avowed American Christians had behaved more consistently with the teachings of the New Testament, and kept the hell out of government and being anti-f*king-everything, they might have wrung another century out of their mythology. But too many high-profile obnoxious groups and individuals have revealed the worst aspects of religion. One Westboro Baptist demonstration is worth a dozen debates when it comes to showing the warts on Christianity.

      I mostly agree with what you say – although the ‘if self-avowed American Christians had behaved more consistently with the teachings of the New Testament‘ part slightly rankles…

      I’m not going to fill this post with quotes (you can find plenty of them here), but there is some downright nasty stuff in the Christian half of the bible, much of it attributed to the mythical man-god character himself…

      Hate speech, misogyny, child abuse, racism, you name it, ‘Jesus’ championed it…

      Personally, I’m glad Christianity is on the decline (at least in the northern hemisphere) – we just need governments and media outlets to understand this too…

      Hopefully one day, the Papacy will move from Rome to Rio and we can have a Christ Free Europe…

      • In reply to #6 by Nodhimmi:

        “One Westboro Baptist demonstration is worth a dozen debates”

        Quite so- we ought to express our sincere gratitude to the WBC

        This is an embarrassing category error. To equate the value of scholarly debate(s) with the demonstrations of a fringe cult is to say that Atheism has no merit because of the behavior of Mao, Stalin, and Hitler.

        For some reason I seem to expect a higher level of reasoning ability from the posters on this forum, however all too often it is ad hominem and rhetoric.

        • In reply to #8 by Kaubell:

          In reply to #6 by Nodhimmi:

          “One Westboro Baptist demonstration is worth a dozen debates”

          Quite so- we ought to express our sincere gratitude to the WBC

          This is an embarrassing category error. To equate the value of scholarly debate(s) with the demonstrations of a fringe cult is to say that Atheism has no merit because of the behavior of Mao, Stalin, and Hitler.

          That’s an erroneous comparison. WBC carry out their demonstrations on the basis of their ideology, which is Christian in origin. Mao and Stalin had their own ideologies. To suggest that they used atheism as that ideology is ridiculous.

          And we all know how flawed the Hitler example is. He was a catholic, and you could argue it was this which inspired his rampant anti-semiticism.

          What the WBC do is show that christian does not automatically equate with ‘good’. And how evil christian doctrine can be, depending on the interpretation. And I don’t know if the WBC are closer to the intent of the OT scripture than the more liberal churches.

        • In reply to #8 by Kaubell:

          This is an embarrassing category error. To equate the value of scholarly debate(s) with the demonstrations of a fringe cult is to say that Atheism has no merit because of the behavior of Mao, Stalin, and Hitler.

          Indeed – you falsely equate atheism with the communist ideologies of Mao and Stalin, and miss-categorise Hitler (The Catholic “New Luther”) as being related in some way to atheism!

          Westboro Baptists are a Xtian cult!

          Atheism is not communism. It is a-political, – while Hitler was deeply involved with various Xtians. NOT atheists.

          **
          Deutsche Christen Flag**

          German Christian Movement Badge (Deutsch-Christliche Mitgliedsabzeichen)

          For some reason I seem to expect a I seem to expect a higher level of reasoning from the posters on this forum, however all too often it is ad hominem and rhetoric.

          Keep working at recognising the ” higher level of reasoning” presented here, and then you can avoid these category errors and false ad hominem claims.

          • In reply to #12 by Alan4discussion:

            Atheism… is a-political

            Atheism renounced any claim to being apolitical when it began hosting events like the Reason Rally and created the Out Campaign. The old style of atheism may have been above anything sordid like politics, but New Atheism™ is very much a political movement.

            Why do you think Richard Dawkins has been racing around the world for the past decade or so? It’s not for the air miles or because he really, really likes complimentary peanuts.

          • In reply to #13 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #12 by Alan4discussion:

            Atheism… is a-political

            Atheism renounced any claim to being apolitical when it began hosting events like the Reason Rally and created the Out Campaign. The old style of atheism may have been above anything sordid like politics, but New Atheism™ is very much a political movement.

            Why do you think Richard Dawkins has been racing around the world for the past decade or so? It’s not for the air miles or because he really, really likes complimentary peanuts.

            I quoted this in the context of atheism being alleged to be (communist/fascist) PARTY political. Atheism is a-party-political.

            In fact it is simply a lack of belief in gods.

            That does not mean that atheists do not form groups of like-minded atheists, participate in political parties, or in political campaigns. (There are atheist MPs in opposing parties in the UK House of Commons).

            Nor does it mean that groups of them do not challenge damaging religious campaigns, but these do not represent ALL atheist views.

          • In reply to #13 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #12 by Alan4discussion:

            Atheism… is a-political

            Atheism renounced any claim to being apolitical when it began hosting events like the Reason Rally and created the Out Campaign. The old style of atheism may have been above anything sordid like politics, but New Atheism™ is very much a political movement.

            Why do you think Richard Dawkins has been racing around the world for the past decade or so? It’s not for the air miles or because he really, really likes complimentary peanuts.

            Richard Dawkins political!!! ??? Jesus, bears and squirrels! Not unless you are one of those neo-Stalinist who believe that “everything” was political.

            Atheism grows directly from “reality”. Reality is not a belief system, nor an ideology or religion. Atheism is a logical conclusion of reality. Reality is independent an indifferent from human thinking. Reality will exist when we are long dead. We understand reality with the method of science. There is no ideology or belief involved. only knowledge.
            Best

  3. It would have been interesting to see how these trends vary by sect. Are post-christian attitudes/behaviour more common in catholics or in southern baptists ? I read recently that southern baptists are becoming quite alarmed at the drop in numbers. I wonder if there is anyone tracking the actual number of sects thriving in society today…….growing or shrinking ? I recently came upon a sign for an “Ebenezer’ something church. One can easily imagine it was established a generation or more ago, and by now the congregation has declined to the point there is no one left to assume the role of clergy, nowhere to go to be trained in the faith, and the entire thing withers away and dies, along with the likelihood that parents will pass on their particular set of faiths to their children. I betcha someone could do a thesis on this sort of thing. Or maybe a book.

    • In reply to #7 by rod-the-farmer:

      Are post-christian attitudes/behaviour more common in catholics or in southern baptists ? I read recently that southern baptists are becoming quite alarmed at the drop in numbers.

      Rep. Rick Brattin (R) of Missouri introduced HB 278; I think it passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. “Schools can’t say ‘christmas break’, it has to be ‘winter break’!!”

      I haven’t noticed jesus keeling over from the omission.

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