Christian Apologetics Society

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
- Matthew 22:29

Isaiah 55:11
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it
Gen 1:3
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light
Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body."
Malachi 1:11
My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.
John 20:23
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 2:14
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Luke 20:38
For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.
Rev 21:27
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
1 Cor 3:15
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
John 3:5
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
1 Timothy 3:15
but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Acts 22:16
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Pew and the U.S. Religious Landscape

Like most religious bloggers, I read numerous articles on the recent U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by The Pew Forum. I also dug into some of the underlying data and examined all the pertinent charts, graphs, and maps. While the press release is accurate and makes some "astonishing" claims, particularly in regards to the Catholic faith, I've noted some peculiarities as well.

1) "Evangelicals are the largest single group of American Christians (26.3 percent)." Not surprising as Appendix 2 states that Evangelicals consist of people from not less than 112 different Protestant sects. Also, this one big family of Evangelicals contains Seventh Day Adventists (Saturday sabbath), Southern baptists (Sunday sabbath), Oneness Pentacostals (non-Trinitarian, no sacraments) and Orthodox Anglican Church (Trinity, sacraments). Clearly a very distinct, homogenous group of Christians, don't you think?

2) "Catholics are the second largest group of Christians, representing roughly 24 percent of the population." As noted earlier, it takes 112 Protestant sects to equal Catholics. While the Pew survey broke down the various Protestant sects into specific sects of Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists, etc., the Pew folks did not provide a similar breakdown for Catholics. Yes, Roman Catholics comprise the majority of U.S. Catholics, but it would have been nice to get some numbers on Byzantine Catholics, like Melkite Catholics and Chaldean Catholics. For example, the Iraq war has unsettled large numbers of Chaldean Catholics. It would be interesting to see if there has been any measureable influx of Chaldean Catholic refugees into the U.S. The Melkite Catholic Church has been growing in recent years; it would have been nice to know by how much.

3) "The Catholic Church has lost more members than any other religious group" Well, yeah. If more Americans are Catholic than any other Christian group, one would expect the Catholic Church to lose more members. What most news accounts seem to omit is the Catholic Church in the U.S. has a higher retention rate (68%) than Baptists (60%), Methodists and Pentacostals (47%) or any other major Protestant sect. Only Mormons and Jews retain a higher proportion of members than Catholics. Catholics are losing members? So what! Protestants are losing them faster and proportions matter.

4) "...this means roughly 10% of all Americans are former Catholics." So, if the Catholic Church can reclaim that 10%, then the U.S. population jumps to 35% Catholic? Interesting. More interesting was the bottom of page 4 in chapter 2 which stated "8.3% of the U.S. adult population was raised Baptist but is no longer Baptist, and 4.4% of the adult population was raised Methodist but has since moved away." 24 million is a lot of ex-Baptists. If the SBC could reclaim most of those ex-Baptists, the SBC could double in size. Ditto for the Methodists.

5) "These losses would have been even more pronounced were it not for the offsetting impact of immigration." Good to know that my family is offsetting Catholic losses. Both of my children are foreign-born immigrants, as are a brother and a sister. Everyone is a U.S. citizen by birth, but they are Catholic immigrants nonetheless. Just like great-grandfather who immigrated from Germany about 1870 and helped take the U.S. from 5% Catholic to 12% Catholic a few decades later.

6) "Although Latinos represent just one-in-eight U.S. Catholics age 70 and older (12%), they account for nearly half of all Catholics ages 18-29 (45%)." While I'm perfectly willing to accept that at least 57% of Latinos are Catholic, a Pew survey of Latinos in 2006 had 68% of Latinos as Catholic. While 10% of Latinos could have left the Catholic Church in the last year or two, its not very probable. To be fair, Pew conducted a follow-up survey for comparison in January 2008. This new poll confirmed that the “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” had indeed underestimated Latino Catholic affiliation. So while the “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” is one of the best sources of information on religion in the U.S., the Pew Forum does acknowledge that the survey undercounts Catholics.

Part of what makes blogs interesting to read is the opinions and insights of the blogger. What's my take? The Pew survey seems to confirm my hypothesis that Jesus is reunifying His Church. Mainline Protestant sects are rapidly declining. The Reformation seems to have lost it steam. The gravitas of the Catholic Church is attracting more and more people. The Pew survey states 2.6% of Americans are converts to the Catholic faith. Something big is occuring in the Catholic Church and the 21st century is poised to become the Catholic Century in American history.

Source: U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Robert M. Kelly said...

Hello Timothy,

this is bob kelly from wmass. I do appreciate your taking the time to write. there is much food for thought in what you wrote.

you point out that I confused the three pillars Willis discussed with the three pillars of the church; correct, I should have specified that he was referring to the hierarchical order only. also, you mention that he did not really address the topic, since the "adaption" he mentioned in the title was only marginally addressed. I agree with this also, although I found the essay clear and convincing, which was clearly not the case for you. thanks again and God bless.

Bob Kelly
p.s. I am posting here because I could find no way to respond privately to your post. cheerio.

10:55 AM  

<< Home