June 15, 2016 – Rise of the “Nones”

Rev. Jeff Gannon

In case you missed what I shared last week….

Rise of the “Nones” – Understanding America’s Changing Religious Landscape and How It Impacts What We Do at Chapel Hill!

The Pew Research Center confirms the decline of Christianity and the increasing secularization of our American society. The fastest growing “religious” group in America is now those who have no religious affiliation whatsoever. The Pew Center shows an 8% decline since 2007 in the number of people who describe themselves as Christians – from 78.4% 70.6%. And almost 4% of this decline is from mainline Protestant denominations such as the United Methodist Church. Almost 25% of Americans no longer associate with any religious denomination.

Fast Facts on the “Nones.”

  • Number of “Nones” has jumped from 8 percent in 1990 to 23 percent in 2014.
  • There are more than four former Christian for every convert to Christianity.
  • The bulk of the “Nones” don’t even commit to any view on God. Instead, they say they believe “nothing in particular.”
  • Among Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996), “Nones” now comprise 36 percent.
  • Combined, there are more “Nones” than Lutherans, Methodists and Episcopalians combined.
  • “Nones” now outnumber both Protestant and Catholic groups.
  • One-third of “Nones” now say they do NOT believe in God.
  • 62% of religious “Nones” now say they seldom or never pray, a 6 point increase since 2007.
  • 1/3 of religiously unaffiliated adults now say they do not believe in God, up 11 points since 2007.
  • 60% of the “Nones” say they have a deep connection with nature and the earth.
  • 30% believe in a spiritual energy in physical objects.
  • 30% have felt “in touch” with someone who is dead.
  • 25% believe in astrology and reincarnation.
  • 15% have consulted a psychic.

What exactly does this mean? We are living in a culture that is increasingly secular and to some degree antagonistic toward any form of “organized” religion.

What are we going to do about it? How does the universal church of Jesus Christ respond? And, how does Chapel Hill in particular respond to this crisis of faith?

We do what Jesus did. He went into the world to seek and to save the lost. He boldly proclaimed the availability of the Kingdom of God now not just when one dies and goes to heaven. I am strongly influenced by the good work of Fr Robert Spitzer, S.J. former President of Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA who has created what he calls “Intellectual Evangelization.” That simply means, going to where the people are to speak of the issues that intrigue or trouble them. Such as, how can a genuine scientist believe in God? Fr Spitzer is a physicist and strongly believes in the intersection of faith and science. He holds sessions in Orange County CA called “Theology on Tap.” He goes to the bar on a given night and hosts a forum with Q and A. The place is packed with people who want to know how Christianity can be relevant to their lives in the 21st Century.

This is one thing we can do to reach the NONES. What are your ideas?

Please email me….jgannon@chapelhillwichita.org

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