The bizarre spiral of decline of Christianity in America | Top stories

The bizarre spiral of decline of Christianity in America

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The decline of American Christianity continues at a rapid pace. The Pew Research Center reports today that the number of self-identified Christians has declined by 12 percentage points since 2012, while “non” religious have increased by 10 points during this period. (Other surveys have shown similar declines.) Christians are still the dominant cultural group in America – at 63 percent of the population, they still have a two-to-one advantage over non-religious – but they are not. not as dominant. as they were.

America’s secularization is a long-term process and has many causes, and the percentage of Christians has been on a downward trend since Pew first studied the issue in 2007. Moreover, no all in public life over the past decade has focused on former President Donald Trump, though sometimes it is.

Yet Trumpism could be both the beneficiary and accelerator of the loosening of the hold of Christianity on culture.

On the one hand, a 2018 study suggested that Trump’s victory in 2016 was due to a cohort – of white Christian men – who feared losing their cultural dominance: Support for Trump was tied to the belief that groups ” high-ranking people ”were in fact faced with more discrimination. than “lower status” groups like minorities and Muslims. “This sense of belonging to America runs so deep in white evangelical circles,” Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute told columnist Michelle Goldberg earlier this year. As president, Trump cemented the loyalty of this group by making his administration a champion of “religious freedom,” which was primarily a project to preserve the declining cultural power of conservative Christians. It worked: Some 85% of white evangelicals who attend services at least once a month voted for Trump in 2020.

Yet Pew’s report suggests that evangelicals continue to lose ground, albeit more slowly than Christianity as a whole, from 30 percent of the population in 2007 to 24 percent in the new report. (Pew previously reported that some conservatives have flocked to evangelical churches in recent years.) But many pastors report that their churches have been torn apart by political strife like never before, and there is anecdotal evidence that some young people are fleeing their churches. rather than being seen as aligning with Trump’s toxicity. Some researchers believe the decline in church attendance is a repudiation of this brand of Republican politics.

Not all white evangelicals are of American Christianity, of course. Catholics – who fairly shared their votes in 2020 – have seen their numbers hold steady in recent years. But you can see where it’s going: If the decline of Christianity fuels Trumpism, and if Trumpism fuels the decline of Christianity, then American churches could be locked in a nasty spiral, with the rest of the country in the game. God help us all.

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