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Professor, Christians: Reports of Faith Dying in US 'Just Not True'

By    |   Thursday, 14 May 2015 07:15 PM

The Christian faith in the United States is not dying despite studies that say otherwise, adherents say.

A Christian Post article refutes claims made in a recent Pew Research Center study that showed Christianity is on the decline and Islam is on its way up in terms of followers.

"There's a story some people want to report — that religion is on life support — but it's just not true," said Baylor University professor Byron Johnson, the founding director of the Institute for Studies of Religion, in the Christian Post piece.

Johnson countered claims that Americans are leaving the Christian faith by saying many of those people are instead either attending non-denominational churches or deciding to not attend mass for a few years.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Christian Post the Pew numbers indicate Christianity is no longer "normal" — and that's not a bad thing, he said.

"Christianity isn't normal anymore. It never should have been. The increasing strangeness of Christianity might be bad news for America, but it's good news for the church," Moore said. "The major newspapers are telling us today that Christianity is dying, according to this new study, but what is clear from this study is exactly the opposite: while mainline traditions plummet, evangelical churches are remaining remarkably steady.

"The churches that are thriving are vibrant, countercultural congregations that aren't afraid to not be seen as normal to the surrounding culture," Moore added. "This report actually leaves me hopeful."

The Pew study predicted Christianity and Islam will have the same number of followers by around 2050, and Muslims could surpass Christians in numbers by 2070. The report cited data that projected 106 million people could leave the Christian faith between 2010 and 2050, with only 40 million expected to enter.

In 2010, Christianity was the world's most dominant religion with 2.1 billion followers.

Tom Hoopes of Aleteia.org thinks Christianity is actually quite healthy and is on the rise, despite what Pew says.

"In America, research showing that Christian numbers are tanking is a little misleading," Hoopes writes. "What it really shows is a fall in the number of people who call themselves Christians but have never darkened the door of a Church. We no longer feel we have to dishonestly mark the 'Christian' box, and we now feel it's OK to be honest and mark the 'atheist' box — but this shows health rather than weakness."

Several people, however, think the United States under President Barack Obama is heading down a path that is anti-Christian. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican running for president, said last month the faith is "under attack."

"I think it's fair to say that Christian convictions are under attack as never before," Huckabee said. "Not just in our lifetime, but ever before in the history of this great republic. We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity."

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The Christian faith in the United States is not dying despite studies that say otherwise, adherents say.
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Thursday, 14 May 2015 07:15 PM
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