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Where have all the Christians Gone?

Original post made by Annon on Sep 29, 2009

Associated Press, Today:

Christianity is plummeting in America, while the number of non-believers is skyrocketing.

A shocking new study of Americans' religious beliefs shows the beginnings of a major realignment in Americans' relationship with God. The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) reveals that Protestants now represent half of all Americans, down almost 20 percent in the last twenty years. In the coming months, America will become a minority Protestant nation for the first time since the pilgrims.

The number of people who claim no religious affiliation, meanwhile, has doubled since 1990 to fifteen percent, its highest point in history. Non-believers now represent the third-highest group of Americans, after Catholics and Baptists.

Other headlines:

1) The number of Christians has declined 12% since 1990, and is now 76%, the lowest percentage in American history.

2) The growth of non-believers has come largely from men. Twenty percent of men express no religious affiliation; 12% of women.

3) Young people are fleeing faith. Nearly a quarter of Americans in their 20's profess no organized religion.

4) But these non-believers are not particularly atheist. That number hasn't budged and stands at less than 1 percent. (Agnostics are similarly less than 1 percent.) Instead, these individuals have a belief in God but no interest in organized religion, or they believe in a personal God but not in a formal faith tradition.

The implications for American society are profound. Americans' relationship with God, which drove many of the country's great transformations from the pilgrims to the founding fathers, the Civil War to the civil rights movement, is still intact. Eighty-two percent of Americans believe in God or a higher power.

But at the same time, the study offers yet another wake-up call for religious institutions.

First, catering to older believers is a recipe for failure; younger Americans are tuning out.

Second, Americans are interested in God, but they don't think existing institutions are helping them draw closer to God.

Finally, Americans' interest in religion has not always been stable. It dipped following the Revolution and again following Civil War. In both cases it rebounded because religious institutions adapted and found new ways of relating to everyday Americans.

Today, the rise of disaffection is so powerful that different denominations needs to band together to find a shared language of God that can move beyond the fading divisions of the past and begin moving toward a partnership of different-but-equal traditions.

Or risk becoming Europe, where religion is fast becoming an afterthought.

Comments (33)

Posted by Annon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm


"The number of people who claim no religious affiliation, meanwhile, has doubled since 1990 to fifteen percent, its highest point in history."

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Christians have no regard for the earth. They pile into their SUVs (no carpooling) to drive to their architectually-ugly churches. They bulldoze God's trees to build their ugly church and parking lot and then spray pesticides all around, poisoning God's earth and creatures.
Christians travel to other countries to pressure poor people to give up their religion and take on Christianity, because it's the only 'right' religion, and the religions of the poor people aren't valid.
There is nothing like the moment in a Christian church when everyone is supposed to shake hands with the person sitting next to them. Everyone is ignoring everyone else, unless they're already acquainted, and then suddenly the fake smiles come out, hands are shaken, and then everybody goes back to ignoring everybody else.
Christians actually teach their children that they 'sin'. They transmit shame to innocent children. Adults are the only ones who sin, and it's a sin to shame innocent children.

Posted by Stay Cool, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm

You are painting with *way* too broad a brush.
If the intent of your post is to rile people up in anger, you'll probably succeed.
If you really think you can categorize a whole group this way, you should re-evaluate your apparent tendency to make such broad assumptions.
If you are trying to make non-Christians look bad, realize that you certainly don't speak for all non-Christians.
And if this post was in jest, you got me.

Posted by Bill M., a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2009 at 2:03 pm

"The plain fact is religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people - by irrationalists - by those who would steer the ship of state, not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken."

Posted by Bill M., a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2009 at 2:04 pm

"Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you comes at a horrible price. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers. If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was. We learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up or die."

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

America is the land of free market religion. If you don't like the flavor of one church, you can go to another, or even start your own.

Posted by m, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm

If you love materialism ... then you must love the current social trends in the world. It's not a lack of religion ... it's the advancement of "STUFF". We want stuff so we have to sacrifice something.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on Sep 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Hey, we kill hundreds of thousands of "non Christians" so that we can be free and live in luxury! Let's not ruin a good thing!

Posted by Bob, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Well first of all I don't believe this is from the AP.

I'd love to see the link where I can read the actual article for myself. I couldn't find this article on any major news website nor the AP website.

Secondly, I "love" how in this article, you are either a Christian or you have no religion. Give me a break.

Tell us really where this article is from...

Posted by Bob, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 29, 2009 at 5:45 pm

OK I found your "source".

This is an OPINION PIECE Fox

Not the AP.

The author is an author of religious books.]

This post is phony and deserves no further comment. Get some integrity.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 29, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Forgot to add my link:

Web Link


Posted by m, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm

More Americans believe in God than in angels, miracles, and even heaven. And while half attend worship services on a regular basis, a majority thinks religion plays too small a role in people's lives today.
Fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles, according to the latest FOX News poll. Though belief in God has remained at about the same level, belief in the devil has increased slightly over the last few years — from 63 percent in 1997 to 71 percent today.
The national poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search), shows that about a third of Americans believe in ghosts (34 percent) and an equal number in UFOs (34 percent), and about a quarter accept things like astrology (search) (29 percent), reincarnation (search) (25 percent) and witches (24 percent).

Posted by jack, a resident of Danbury Park
on Sep 29, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Fox News? They ONLY have opinion pieces!

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 30, 2009 at 8:26 am

With morons like the supposed "street preachers" that have invaded our town every once in a while & the absolute idiocy being spewed from the likes of the so called "christian right", can you blame people? Throw in a few wayward catholic priests, a Dan Brown book or two, porn on tap at every internet portal, a really piss poor job by the PR wing of christianity & the liberal elites in the country trying their best to remove ANY notion of christian religious symbolism, observance or even brief mention you have the makings for a pseudo-pagan godless society.

The fact that Islam is on the rise at an almost exponential rate & that the fanatic wing is driving this rise in enrollment scares me more than a group of atheists wanting to take "In God We Trust" off our currency though.

Posted by Andy G., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2009 at 8:30 am are one [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment]

Go away, shooo!

Posted by SteveP, a resident of Parkside
on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:19 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Andy G, excellent post! Lisa is a troll, hence her hit and run post.
Maybe she just crwaled back under her rock (in hell).

Here's a broad generalization, aong the lines of Lisa's post: All people named Lisa are morons.

The absence and decline of young people's interest in religion can be linked directly to the actions of the ACLU by removing God and religion from schools and other public intitutions. Their goal is one world, with a new religion called government.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:41 am

Yeah, organized religion is such a stellar role-model for our youth. It is hard to believe they are turning away from it in droves. Let's see, organized religion has brought mankind numerous wars (Crusades anyone), the Inquisition, justification for slavery, anti-science thought from the middle ages to present day, one of my favorites - the Salem Witch Trials, more wars, hypocrisy on a grand scale ala Ted Swaggert, to hate driven screeds and campaigns against people of color, homosexuals, or anyone not toeing the line of a particular religion. Oh, and let's not forget that little skirmish in Northern Ireland, the little problem in the middle east between the Jews and Palestinians, and right here in our own part of the world, the extermination of the native peoples of the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries. Yeah, organized religion is the bomb!

Posted by !, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:06 am

AndyG and SteveP... YES!

Oh...Lisa, my guess is at you also welcome the "peaceful" religion of Islam that happens to be rapidly increasing its presence in America, too. Remember the formerly Christian nation of Lebanon? It is now controlled by Hezbollah because of Lebanon's uber tolerance and liberalism. That is a redflag warning for the US.

when you have a chance, google the terms...


Posted by Stay Cool, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:37 am

How are you any different than Lisa when you attack her or make similarly sweeping generalizations? Wait, let me guess - because *you* are *right.*
The government cannot be blamed for a decrease in religiosity in America. We still refer to God on our currency and in our pledge. The separation of church and state was fundamental to this country's inception. It is not the government's responsibility to encourage Christianity in it's citizens. This sits square in the laps of individual families and the efforts of churches. People are making their decisions regarding belief based on a lot of things, not the least of which is a thoughtful consideration of the possibility of the existence of a God given the circumstances people are facing around the world. The government and the ACLU have nothing to do with it.

Posted by Christian Still at Heart, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 30, 2009 at 11:14 am

Well, let's see, Christmas is now called Winter Break as we are no longer able to reference our holiday in deference of possibly offending other religions. Easter is now called Spring Break. There are those that want to take "In God We Trust" out of our constitution. The list goes on.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

Stacey is a registered user.

There is no mention of God in the Constitution. Have you read it?

Posted by Stay Cool, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2009 at 11:33 am

How is respecting that Christianity isn't the only belief system in the U.S. a bad thing, and how does not calling Winter Break "Christmas Break" prevent people from engaging in Christian religious practices at home and church, where they belong?

Posted by Janet, a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Sep 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm

The Christmas/Winter Break and Easter/Spring Break argument is ridiculous. No one is preventing you from calling them Christmas and Easter Breaks, but the schools absolutely should continue to call them Winter and Spring Breaks.

Or else since my family doesn't celebrate Christmas or Easter, we will just plan to show up for school during those breaks - how about that?

This is just like the whole "boycott" of stores who won't wish people a Merry Christmas.

If your religious life is so starved that you need to get religion from school and stores, I suggest you go to church more...

*p.s. "In God We Trust" is nowhere in the Constitution. C'mon...

Posted by M., a resident of Downtown
on Sep 30, 2009 at 3:34 pm

In the modern world people have the ability to communicate with people from all across the human world, instantly at that. With that comes access to different points of view, different sets of information and different thoughts on matters of religion morality and faith. People are now free to decide for themselves what if any religious tradition they wish to follow, or not follow for that matter. At least in the developed world we no longer must take the local priest's word as fact, or truth. In ancient times people were forced to do just that, as access to outside thought, information, or even the written word was not available and in many cases forbidden. To simplify, people have the tools to make an informed decision about such things today.

Additional as it has been mentioned, "In God We Trust" is NOT in the constitution, nor are the words god, worship, religion, christian, or Jesus.

The word faith does appear in the following non religious context -
Article IV Section 1.
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

P.S. more of a side note. Are people not aware of this thing called the "internet"(Hint: you are using it right now.) that lets us look up anything and everything in order to fact check it? Honestly, calling a fox news op ed an AP piece? stating that "in god we trust" is in the constitution?

Posted by poster boy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I think it's happening cuz He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (I promised JimF01 not to mention him for a week) drove Jesus out of the Republican Party. Now that Jesus is in with Ron Paul, it's been downhill for establishment Christianity...

Posted by Annon, a resident of Downtown
on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Modern day Christianity is more of a social status concept IMO. A label that insinuates a good or moral individual. We, Christian fall and fail morally as much as non Christians, BUT they are "forgiven" already, so they do seem to have some advantage. Or at least a scapegoat.

Although no more or less of a saint by human nature, modern day Christan's tend to stand in TOTAL judgement of others, both Christian as well as Non Christians.

There are a TON of "should" and "should nots" that the average Christian works very hard to impose on others. When one falls short in a typical Christian community or family, there is a pronounced element of SHAME projected.

Christians tend to wholly support a strong military as well as war as being necessary in the preservation of "Christan Values."

Christians are very good at imposing their belief system on society at large and condemning and personal individual right of choice.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with God, Jesus or the bible, but there are is ample dysfunction with modern day "Christians."

Posted by SteveP, a resident of Parkside
on Oct 1, 2009 at 10:30 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Taking the apparently inflamatory word "Christian' out of the discussion for a minute, the underlying issue of the past 40 years is the erosion of morals in our population.

In response to the political correctness stay cool and janet espouse, all this type of appeasement does is cater to and condescend to a vocal minority out of a misplaced feeling of either fear or pity. This same thought process keeps minorities and immigrants from assimilating into our culture, further segregating our society and decaying our morals.

Posted by Stay Cool, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

SteveP wrote: "In response to the political correctness stay cool and janet espouse, all this type of appeasement does is cater to and condescend to a vocal minority out of a misplaced feeling of either fear or pity. This same thought process keeps minorities and immigrants from assimilating into our culture, further segregating our society and decaying our morals."
This is not appeasement, it is not catering, and it is not condescension. It is the reality of the situation. We are no longer primarily a Christian culture. This doesn't segregate our society and has no impact on our morals. And again, Christian imagery has no place in public schools. You can be Christian all you want at home and church, but people who don't subscribe to that ideology should not have their seasons dictated to by Christian themes.
You are surrounding yourself with yourself. You are not seeing the big picture.

Posted by Janet, a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Oct 1, 2009 at 4:41 pm

SteveP -

Seriously? Assimilation? No thanks, I'm not interested in converting. Though it sounds like you think if people celebrate something different than you they "decay our morals".

Why is it so threatening that different people celebrate different things?

I understand, Steve, that ackowledging that the whole world (or at least Pleasanton) isn't white and Christian is scary, but I swear wishing someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas "happy holidays" won't send our beloved nation to hell.


Posted by Not Smart, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2009 at 8:59 pm

This righteous "Christian" takes the cake:

Elizabeth Smart says she was raped daily
By JENNIFER DOBNER (AP) – 3 hours ago

SALT LAKE CITY — Taking the stand for the first time since she was snatched from her girlhood bedroom seven years ago, Elizabeth Smart testified Thursday that her captor raped her three or four times a day, kept her tied up with a cable around her leg, and threatened to kill her if she tried to escape.

Asked by a prosecutor to describe Brian David Mitchell, the self-described prophet accused of holding her captive for nine months, Smart replied: "Evil, wicked, manipulative, stinky, slimy, greedy, selfish, not spiritual, not religious, not close to God."

Smart, now a 21-year-old college student, gave her horrifying account in federal court as part of a proceeding over whether Mitchell is mentally competent to stand trial.

The 55-year-old, one-time street preacher has been behind bars since 2003 — mostly in a state mental hospital — but has yet to stand trial. Twice he has been ruled mentally incompetent in state court, and he has often demonstrated bizarre behavior, including incessantly singing hymns in the courtroom and once yelling at a judge to repent.

Smart testified that within hours of her 2002 kidnapping at knifepoint, she was led away to a secluded mountain campsite and in a quickie ceremony became the polygamous "wife" of the older man.

"After that he proceeded to rape me," Smart said, sharing for the first time publicly her account of the ordeal.

She said Mitchell showed her pornography and plied her with alcohol and drugs to lower her resistance to his sexual advances. Once, Smart said, she tried to fight Mitchell off by biting him.

On the stand for nearly two hours, Smart was poised, her voice never wavering. She did not come face-to-face with her alleged tormenter. Mitchell was removed from the courtroom for disruptive behavior — singing hymns — before Smart arrived, and watched the proceedings from a holding cell.

A federal judge ruled earlier this week that Smart's testimony is relevant to the question of Mitchell's competency. Mitchell's competency hearing is not set to begin until Nov. 30, but Smart testified early because she is going on a religious mission for the Mormon church in Paris.

Smart's parents and other family members were in the courtroom to support her. Her father Ed Smart had already heard much of the story but said later outside court he had learned a few new details. He did not elaborate.

"She actually wanted to face him," Ed Smart said. "She asked if he could be muzzled and sit and watch."

He praised his daughter's composure.

"I was absolutely amazed at her strength," he said, his eyes teary. "I don't know how she could have done a better job than she did."

Smart was 14 when she was abducted from her bedroom in the middle of the night. In a surprising turn that transfixed the country, she was rescued in March 2003 after a motorist spotted her walking the streets of a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.

Smart testified that in the days immediately following the kidnapping, Mitchell held her captive with the help of a 10-foot cable bolted to her leg and tethered to a line stretched between two trees. She said Mitchell threatened to kill her if she yelled or tried to get away.

Smart said Mitchell would rape her three to four times a day. There was some respite — usually when Barzee became upset over Mitchell's relationship with Smart — but it never lasted, Smart said.

Mitchell is charged in state court with kidnapping and sexual assault. Last year, he was indicted on federal charges of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines. In both the state and federal cases, experts have split over Mitchell's competency.

Mitchell's lawyers maintain he is incompetent and suggested that evidence of his delusions can be found in his religious rambling and writings, including a 27-page manifesto he called "The Book of Emmanuel David Isaiah."

Smart said he read from the book repeatedly during her captivity, often sang hymns and laced his conversations with religious language. Throughout her captivity, Smart was forced to wear a white, ankle-length robe, a head scarf and two veils across her face.

"He told me he was a prophet," Smart said under cross-examination by Mitchell's lawyer. "He said he was the voice of God on Earth and that he would reign over God's children until Jesus came."

But she also said his religious revelations seemed to come only when he wanted something, or when he was trying to calm Barzee. Smart said she believed Mitchell always knew that he could be punished for her kidnapping and understood how the court system worked.

She said he gave her an alias — Augustine Marshall — and told her what to say to police if they were ever questioned. He also bragged about skirting previous accusations of sexual abuse and fooling others, Smart said.

Never in nine months did Mitchell appear confused or out of control, Smart testified: "He was a very capable, intelligent human being."

Posted by Annon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Typical, as Religion suppreses natural instinct. Tha't why there are SO many Conservatove Christians that get caught in affairs, child molestation cases and worse.

Posted by Rita, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm


I do not think you can make a connection between christians having affairs but more likely if you look at the following you might find one thing in common. Jesse Jackson, John Kennedy, David Letterman, Bill Clinton, Gary Conduit, South Carolina governor, Al Sharpton, Barney Frankfurter (with male prostitutes)........hint they are all male who had affairs so you draw your own conclusions.

Posted by Homeowner, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2009 at 6:30 am

Flying Spaghetti Monster - believe

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