Is America Less Christian or Is the Pew Forum Study Simply Flawed?

Over the past couple of days the Pew Forum has released its latest “major study” dealing with the religious proclivities of Americans.  An exact, at least according to the Forum, study was released in 2007, from which a comparison was made to the one done in 2014.

The findings of the study show that Christianity is in decline in America, while those claiming to be atheists Pew_Research_Center_-_Decline_in_Christianity_Dataand agnostics (“nones”) was shown to be on the increase.  Such dire statistics; what is a person to think?

After reading through the interpretation of the data by the Pew researchers, a couple of things came to mind that would make one wonder just what the value is of such a study, much less the motives as to why it was conducted.

For instance, the Pew study tells us that

In 2007, there were 227 million adults in the United States, and a little more than 78% of them – or roughly 178 million – identified as Christians. Between 2007 and 2014, the overall size of the U.S. adult population grew by about 18 million people, to nearly 245 million. But the share of adults who identify as Christians fell to just under 71%, or approximately 173 million Americans, a net decline of about 5 million.

The problem with these stats is that there is no real definition of what the Pew study means by “Christian.”  Included in its data findings as “Christians” are Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the ever nebulous “Other Christians.”

Sorry, Pew, but Mormons are not Christians and neither are Jehovah’s Witnesses.  In fact, in the latter case, to be a Christian would be hypocritical of JW claims that they only follow Jehovah, and JWs do not believe that Jesus is Jehovah, even though the Bible makes it clear that is exactly who he is (see John 1:23 cf. Isa. 40:3).

Since there are about 20+ million adherents to those aberrations or “cults” of Christianity (and that not including all the rest, like the Seventh Day Adventists, Church of Christ, the Oneness Pentecostals, etc.), then whatever subtraction or addition to the “Christian” numbers is going to skew the survey.

Second, is this misleading conclusion:

Nearly a quarter of Generation Xers now say they have no particular religion or describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, up four points in seven years. Baby Boomers also have become slightly but noticeably more likely to identify as religious “nones” in recent years.

There is no such thing as a person having “no particular religion.”  All people are inherently religious, whether they are worshiping nature, the God of the Bible, or themselves.  That includes atheists and agnostics, who are as religious as anyone, particularly in respect to worshiping themselves as their own gods and goddesses, as menial, yet egotistical, as that might be.

Later, the Pew surveyors repeat the same misleading commentary, perhaps to drive home whatever point itPew_Forum_-_Religious_Landscape_Study is trying to make, but that only reinforces the fact that whoever put this survey together already had their preconceived biases and prejudices built in before one question was ever asked.

Is Christianity on the decline, though?  Not really.  Christians and Christianity have been marginalized for years, and this survey seems to be adding to the marginalization.

Does that necessarily mean that Christians and Christianity are doing what they should be doing, which is to go out into the world and make disciples?  No.  But, even if they were, the anti-Christian secular media and self-proclaimed “nonpartisan fact tank” organization like the Pew Research Center, would find a way to marginalize or demonize Christians or Christianity anyway.

Are there necessarily that many more atheists or agnostics than there ever used to be?  Again, not really.  Oh, there are more blusterers than there may have been since the days of Madalyn Murray O’Hair and Carl Sagan, and the left-leaning news media trips over its tongues to give the loudmouths a forum to spew their venom.

But, the fact remains, there is no such thing as a consistent atheist.  Otherwise, one would never hear from him, since his worldview would shut him up, not make him trumpet the wonders of his foolishness and make a complete idiot out of himself.  That is, unless he was an even bigger fool than God has already declared him to be, with Richard Dawkins being a prime example.

In short, what the Pew Forum has provided is basically useless, if not misleading information.  Making 35,000 phones calls without clearly defining the terms, and then mixing and matching terms which were only briefly discussed, serves only to to prove nothing.

However, one may rest assure that in seven more years another survey will be conducted, and the numbers will be interpreted in the same dire way for Christians and Christianity as it was this time.  The social secularists and pretentious atheists will be dancing in the streets.  Much consternation will be heard over the airwaves, all the while forgetting that such activities were predicted to occur as the Day of the Lord approached.

So, to the Christian, do not be too concerned about this latest survey.  Just do your best to obey, for your reward draweth nigh.

To everyone else, you better hope that Christians and Christianity are not on the wane, because that only means judgment is waiting right around the corner for you.  And there will no surveying done to garner the opinions of those who either shook their fists in God’s face and declared, “No!” or those who decided to apostatize from the faith.

There will be a Great White Throne Judgment, where those whose names are not written in Jesus’ Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire.  Those with eyes to see and and brain to think, please take heed.

About the Author

President, Christian Apologetics Project PhD Candidate, Northwest University (2018) MA Apologetics w/ Honors, BIOLA University (2005) ThM, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2003) MDiv, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2000) BA Pastoral Ministry & Bible, Baptist Bible College (1992)

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