A Private Little Faith

The New Pew Survey on Religion

By: John Stonestreet|Published: October 11, 2012

A new survey says Protestants are no longer in the majority in the United States, and that the “nones” are growing. What does that mean? Stay tuned for BreakPoint.

John Stonestreet

A few years ago, sociologist Christian Smith told us that many young Christians hold a decidedly sub-Christian view of their faith, what he called a kind of “moralistic therapeutic deism.” A few years later he told us what happens when moralistic therapeutic deists grow up: They become relativists—both morally and spiritually.

Now a new survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals where this heresy leads on a societal level. For the first time in American history, fewer than half of all American adults—48 percent—now call themselves Protestants. And it’s not because of a growth in committed Catholics or Orthodox believers.

“Among the reasons for the change,” Pew says, “are the growth in nondenominational Christians who can no longer be categorized as Protestant, and a spike in the number of American adults who say they have no religion at all.” In fact, “20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years.”

Wow! We’ve been seeing huge swings in political polls, but nothing like this. This dethroning of Protestantism is due to both the growth of the nonreligious and the religiously unaffiliated—often called “the nones,” as well as those who say they follow Christ but fail to commit to His church—the “just-me-and-Jesus” crowd.

Our friend, the late Chuck Colson, liked to say that if Christianity is only about “me and Jesus,” the result would be disastrous for both church and society.

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