The End of American Christendom
Recently it was revealed that for the first time in history, Protestants are a minority of the population of the United States of America. The study had strong confidence in a minority, estimating at 48%. The primary group to replace Protestants were those unaffiliated with any religion. This includes of course atheists and agnostics, but also many who call themselves spiritual but not subscribing to any particular religious tradition. And obviously there are lots of non-Protestant Christians like Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anabaptists, non-denominationals, and arguably Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses (I wouldn’t consider them Christian groups, but some would), so putting all those together it is still a Christian-majority nation by a comfortable margin.
It has been evident for some time that the United States is the last bastion of the Christendom era which has lasted about 1700 years. There are lots of reasons why this has started to happen. Check out the book review series I’ve begun on You Lost Me by David Kinnaman for a few of them. Some are things that the church controls, like being overprotective, unwilling to accept doubt, anti-science, and more. Other things are societal shifts which the church has not responded to, like the increase in access to knowledge which erodes modernist concepts of absolute authority.
Me? I celebrate this news. A lot of problems came with Christendom. Since the church felt like it had to be tied to the state, it often committed acts of violence against those within its own nation and against other nations. “Christian” and “European” were often synonymous, which dilutes any meaning to “Christian.” Of course there were many who fought against these problems, but the majority has embraced them because it means they possess power. They don’t seem to have realized, though, that this is the exact power that Jesus opposed. It’s a power-over control of people, not a power-under service to those in need. It’s the power to kill, not the power to woo people with loving sacrifice including to death. Maybe without the option of this power-over, the church will be able to return to its rightful embrace of service to the world.