527 – Christianity and Non-Christianity Are Both Growing
There are more Christians in America than ever before–both as a percentage and in total numbers. In 1800, only one in fifteen Americans belonged to an evangelical church. By 1860 that grew to one in seven. Today, more than one in three Americans count themselves as evangelical Christians. Church attendance as a percent of population has held steady since 1990, and probably since 1940. America added 50,000 new churches in the last twenty years of the twentieth century to total 350,000.
So why do a majority of Americans believe our country is going downhill? The answer is simple. While America has never held a Christian majority, we once operated under the moral consensus of Judeo-Christian principles. Movies, television, literature and other instruments of culture adhered to the morals of this consensus. That consensus has been breaking up for over one hundred years, and has accelerated rapidly in recent decades. So, while Christianity itself continues to flourish, secular culture no longer rests on Judeo-Christian values. Essentially, Christianity and non-Christianity are both growing, but in different directions.
The message for us? Don’t make the mistake of saying that Christianity is not working. It is! It is non-Christianity that is not working. Where our culture is wholesome, it is because of Christians and non-Christians who still hold to Judeo-Christian values. Everything else is a moral mess. Don’t make the mistake of judging Christianity by the failures of non-Christianity.