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Thread: Barna: Big decline in US Christian Practice over last 20 years

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Barna: Big decline in US Christian Practice over last 20 years

    This may seem almost too good to be true for some of us.

    Number of practicing Christians in the U.S. has decreased by about half since 2000 | Disrn
    A survey commissioned by the Barna Group indicates what the report calls a "dramatic change" in American Christianity. The Barna Group qualifies a "practicing Christian" by a respondent "calling oneself a Christian, strongly prioritizing faith and regular church attendance." By these measures, only 25 percent of respondents qualify as practicing, versus 45 percent in 2000.
    Church Engagement Down about Half Since 2000, Barna Group Reports - Tim Tune
    • Practicing Christians self-identify as Christian, attend church at least monthly, and consider faith very important.
    • Non-practicing Christians self-identify as Christian but based on their observances don’t qualify as practicing.
    • Non-Christians are U.S. adults who don’t identify as Christian.

    The decline of the practicing Christian segment, Barna suggests, is “perhaps the most significant change” the research has revealed thus far.

    Over the last two decades, Barna says, the decline among practicing Christians was about evenly distributed between the non-practicing and the non-Christian segments.
    What 2000 2020
    Practicing Xian 45 27
    Non-Practicing Xian 35 43
    Non-Xian 20 30
    Atheist/Agnostic/None 11 21
    Signs of Decline & Hope Among Key Metrics of Faith - Barna Group

    Barna's numbers are very odd: approximately constant before 2009, then a big change over 2009-2012, then approximately constant to the present day. That is contrary to what others have found, a slow change in the numbers over the years.

    Weekly church attendance they found to to be constant at about 45%, then declined to about 30%, and then stayed nearly constant. Looking across the generations, that decline happened after 2012 for all of them. Younger generations are less participating than older ones, even for the same ages.

    That odd shift means something suspicious about Barna's numbers, even though they are broadly consistent with what ARIS and other studies have shown.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    So that's why the country turned into a utopia of tolerance, prosperity, and love of knowledge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    So that's why the country turned into a utopia of tolerance, prosperity, and love of knowledge.
    It’s certainly headed that way among the non-religious.

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    Veteran Member Tigers!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hurtinbuckaroo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    So that's why the country turned into a utopia of tolerance, prosperity, and love of knowledge.
    It’s certainly headed that way among the non-religious.
    If you believe that Trump is a worse president than Bush and its being about 20 years Bush being elected and now and that religious observance is falling.
    There might be an unusual correlation in there.
    NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

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    Veteran Member Tigers!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hurtinbuckaroo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    So that's why the country turned into a utopia of tolerance, prosperity, and love of knowledge.
    It’s certainly headed that way among the non-religious.
    The Trump Derangement Syndrome is strong within these fora and there are a lot of non-religious therein.

    I do not see that much tolerance here to be honest.
    NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tigers! View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by hurtinbuckaroo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    So that's why the country turned into a utopia of tolerance, prosperity, and love of knowledge.
    It’s certainly headed that way among the non-religious.
    If you believe that Trump is a worse president than Bush and its being about 20 years Bush being elected and now and that religious observance is falling.
    There might be an unusual correlation in there.
    Trump is the last stand of the religious right, not the result of a trend.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    Barna's numbers are consistent, just bumpier. Christianity isn't on palliative care just yet but the day is certainly coming. Christianity used to be something people thought they needed but obviously there are other more important things when push comes to shove.

    Here in the rust belt are oodles of these gigantic churches that were all built at great cost for communities of pedestrians. They are a testament to the power that was once the christian religion. The buildings that remain as churches are hanging on by their fingernails as people are obviously more interested in secular gathering places.

    What would really be interesting in these studies is to hear why people are not practicing christians. It's obviously not important to as many people but I'm curious to hear from the horses' mouths.

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    Cyborg with a Tiara
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tigers! View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by hurtinbuckaroo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    So that's why the country turned into a utopia of tolerance, prosperity, and love of knowledge.
    It’s certainly headed that way among the non-religious.
    The Trump Derangement Syndrome is strong within these fora and there are a lot of non-religious therein.

    I do not see that much tolerance here to be honest.
    Says the guy who worships a book that advocates eternal punishment for non-belief?

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Barna's numbers are consistent, just bumpier. Christianity isn't on palliative care just yet but the day is certainly coming. Christianity used to be something people thought they needed but obviously there are other more important things when push comes to shove.

    Here in the rust belt are oodles of these gigantic churches that were all built at great cost for communities of pedestrians. They are a testament to the power that was once the christian religion. The buildings that remain as churches are hanging on by their fingernails as people are obviously more interested in secular gathering places.

    What would really be interesting in these studies is to hear why people are not practicing christians. It's obviously not important to as many people but I'm curious to hear from the horses' mouths.
    I can only tell you the impression that I get from my non practicing Christian friends. I live in a small city that could be called Christianville. . Churches certainly aren't dying out here. At last count, there were over 70. They are located in store fronts, an old movie theatre, an old warehouse etc. as well as the more traditional buildings that were built specifically to be churches. The congregation sizes range from close to a thousand to just a few. There are three churches within walking distance of me, a huge Methodist church which does a lot of charity work, a Mormon church, and one that I can't recall the specific sect.

    I get the impression from those who never or rarely go to church, that they were taught the Christian beliefs as children and they don't really give those beliefs much thought. They just cling to them out of habit or tradition. I have a close friend who fits that category as well as a next door neighbor who is a divorced woman who still has four children living at home. My neighbor and my friend have never criticized us for being atheists. I guess one could refer to these folks as cultural Christians or Christians who are too busy to be able to attend church. My friend usually has to work on Sundays, and my neighbor always looks stressed out of her mind. I haven't had a chance to really talk to her in years. I guess a lot of Christians simply don't feel the need to gather with other Christians or maybe they haven't found a church that suits them. One might consider most of them apathetic Christians, I guess. Besides, let's face it. From what I remember as a child, church is really boring.

    On the other hand, all of the black folks that I know personally, always attend church. They love their churches, maybe for the sense of community and emotional support that they receive there. My closest black friend knows I don't believe, but she and I agreed never to let that come between us.

    Christianity may be decreasing nationally, but it's still very strong in the South. To be honest, I really don't care one way or the other. It people are motivated to do charity work or to find a community that helps them feel part of something, it doesn't bother me in the least. I do find some humor in the signs outside of some of these churches. I don't understand how people can literally believe some of the things they do, but then I have my other neighbor who hates Christianity, but has some very nutty woo of her own. Being the hardcore skeptic that I am, always makes me wonder who anyone can belief some of the things that they do.

    She knows I'm an atheist and she's fine with that. Two days ago, she told me she had used bay leaves to keep the spirits away, she was burning candles for love and peace, and she was wearing some kind of band around her ankle that was supposed to do something magical, I guess. I just looked at her, and say, "Hey whatever makes you feel better is fine with me." Her woo is really no crazier than some of the Christian woo. I just don't see her woo as harmful She's not pushing it on anyone else and she still believes in science. Whatever floats your boat as long as you use it in a positive, harmless way is fine with me. We humans have never been known to be very rational. We are often more guided more by our emotions than by things that make the most sense.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I can only tell you the impression that I get from my non practicing Christian friends. I live in a small city that could be called Christianville. . Churches certainly aren't dying out here. At last count, there were over 70. They are located in store fronts, an old movie theatre, an old warehouse etc. as well as the more traditional buildings that were built specifically to be churches. The congregation sizes range from close to a thousand to just a few. There are three churches within walking distance of me, a huge Methodist church which does a lot of charity work, a Mormon church, and one that I can't recall the specific sect.

    I get the impression from those who never or rarely go to church, that they were taught the Christian beliefs as children and they don't really give those beliefs much thought. They just cling to them out of habit or tradition. I have a close friend who fits that category as well as a next door neighbor who is a divorced woman who still has four children living at home. My neighbor and my friend have never criticized us for being atheists. I guess one could refer to these folks as cultural Christians or Christians who are too busy to be able to attend church. My friend usually has to work on Sundays, and my neighbor always looks stressed out of her mind. I haven't had a chance to really talk to her in years. I guess a lot of Christians simply don't feel the need to gather with other Christians or maybe they haven't found a church that suits them. One might consider most of them apathetic Christians, I guess. Besides, let's face it. From what I remember as a child, church is really boring.

    On the other hand, all of the black folks that I know personally, always attend church. They love their churches, maybe for the sense of community and emotional support that they receive there. My closest black friend knows I don't believe, but she and I agreed never to let that come between us.

    Christianity may be decreasing nationally, but it's still very strong in the South. To be honest, I really don't care one way or the other. It people are motivated to do charity work or to find a community that helps them feel part of something, it doesn't bother me in the least. I do find some humor in the signs outside of some of these churches. I don't understand how people can literally believe some of the things they do, but then I have my other neighbor who hates Christianity, but has some very nutty woo of her own. Being the hardcore skeptic that I am, always makes me wonder who anyone can belief some of the things that they do.

    She knows I'm an atheist and she's fine with that. Two days ago, she told me she had used bay leaves to keep the spirits away, she was burning candles for love and peace, and she was wearing some kind of band around her ankle that was supposed to do something magical, I guess. I just looked at her, and say, "Hey whatever makes you feel better is fine with me." Her woo is really no crazier than some of the Christian woo. I just don't see her woo as harmful She's not pushing it on anyone else and she still believes in science. Whatever floats your boat as long as you use it in a positive, harmless way is fine with me. We humans have never been known to be very rational. We are often more guided more by our emotions than by things that make the most sense.
    It's safe to say that humanity likes its woo. And I'm no exception because I thoroughly enjoy watching a good movie, pretending that something is real and enjoying the experience. Is a religion like christianity or scientology any different? Are crystals any different? I don't think so.

    If we make ourselves observers and think about making observations of human behavior, would an impartial observer see any difference between my watching Avatar and a person attending a church service? I'd see them as pretty darn similar. The short of it is we all like to fantasize because it's physiologically restorative. A person competing for a medal goes so far as to envision themselves doing all these things that will give them a victory, they practice positive reinforcement. The neural mechanism is probably the same for a person that's envisioning some kind of heaven.

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