In a Time of Rising Liberalism, Religious Right Clings to Hope of Religious Revival

AmericastanAt a time when conservative Christianity seems to have hit an all-time low in America, evangelist Billy Graham is thinking that not only is it time for a religious revival, but as Troy Anderson revealed over at World Net Daily yesterday, “In nearly a dozen interviews with WND, prominent national faith leaders, pollsters and others said they are witnessing what appear to be early signs of a spiritual awakening.”

Um…yeah…about that:

  • Just 7 percent of Americans are Evangelicals, though up to 25 percent may belong to evangelical denominations;
  • 43 percent of children raised as evangelicals stop going to church when they become adults
  • Pew Forum revealed in 2011 that “U.S. evangelical leaders are especially downbeat about the prospects for evangelical Christianity in their society; 82% say evangelicals are losing influence in the United States today, while only 17% think evangelicals are gaining influence.”
  • A year later (2012) Pew Forum revealed that Nones were on the rise, that “One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.”
  • “In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults,” Pew Forum reported in 2012.
  • 13 million Americans (6 percent of the population) said in 2012 that they are atheists or agnostics, reported Pew Forum.
  • 33 million people (14 percent of the population) said in 2012 that they “have no particular religious affiliation,” reported Pew Forum.
  • 20 percent of Americans in 2013 do not consider themselves part of any particular church, according to Sociologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University reported HuffPo.
  • “[T]hree out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15,” reports Barna Group.

Why are people losing their religion?

  • Apparently, kids and young adults are tired of all the hating. According to the Barna Group: “One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience).
  • Young adults have a problem with the Church’s anti-science attitudes: “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%).
  • And then there is the exclusive nature of conservative Christianity: “One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).” What’s funny is that this “insiders group” insists that whether we join or not, we have to obey their rules.

Bob Russell wrote earlier this year about proper responses to a survey that showed, “Among millennials (those under 34 years of age) only 17% could be classified as religious conservatives, 23 % as liberals and 22% nonreligious.”

As Russell observed, “America’s religious views are becoming more liberal.”

He asked, what should we do?

The answer for some is to hope for the end times, like Billy Graham:

In an exclusive interview with WND exploring the reasons behind My Hope America, Graham explained he believes the world is coming to the “end of the age, not the end of the world or the earth but the end of the age – the period that God has set aside for this particular time.”

“There’s a great deal to say in the Bible about the signs we’re to watch for and when these signs all converge at one place we can be sure that we’re close to the end of the age,” Graham said. “And those signs in my judgment are converging now for the first time since Jesus made those predictions.”

So, apparently, does wishful thinking:

Banning Liebscher, director of Jesus Culture, an international Christian revivalist youth outreach ministry based out of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., said he’s now seeing what he believes are the initial signs of a spiritual awakening among a segment of today’s youth, too.

“It may be in seed form,” Liebscher said. “It may not be a full, mature awakening, but it’s happening. In every city we go to, there are thousands of young people who come out whose hearts are awakened to the love of Jesus and the power of God. I would say absolutely an awakening is happening.”

Oh if I had a dollar for every time Christians thought Jesus was coming back.I could have retired centuries ago. The years 1000 and 2000 are far from the only “certain” dates in history. These folks have been waiting with baited breath for 2,000 years, even though Jesus said the event would take place in his own life-time and Paul of Tarsus said the same thing.

This obsession with the end-times is a real head-scratcher. Here we have a perfectly good planet (a little damaged, sure) and lives here on this world – right now – but these people can think of nothing else but some ephemeral existence that can’t be proven to exist.

I’m not pooh-poohing afterlifes – Heathenism (Ásatrú) has its own belief in the afterlife – but it seems from the data – and the evidence of my own eyes – that young people are more interested in the real world than in heaven or in a “Kingdom of God” on earth.

These people are tired of the negativity and the exclusion. They are tired of the culture wars that demonize their friends and family. They are tired of hate. They want to live their lives. They want to enjoy it.

Is it any wonder that religious people are more depressed than other folks? Ask any former fundamentalist and they will tell you. I was raised a Lutheran and that was my experience too. I felt a cloud had lifted from over my head when I left the Church. The doom and gloom, the sin and the guilt over every little thought is soul-devouring.

People don’t want their souls devoured. People want to live their lives. They want to actually enjoy them with friends and family they are instructed to demonize.

It is no surprise, given all of the above, that fundamentalists feel the U.S. is ripe for a religious revival.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

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