USA Today posts some of the results from a recent study of the “unchurched”—which isn’t just atheists with a PC name, but rather people who don’t go to church even if they believe in God. The results are interesting:
A new survey of U.S. adults who don’t go to church, even on holidays, finds 72% say “God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists.” But just as many (72%) also say the church is “full of hypocrites.”
Indeed, 44% agree with the statement “Christians get on my nerves.”
I know a lot of unchurched that would agree with that. My mother, who is probably closest to being a deist at this point, has expressed similar views on occasion. One spot of good news is the rise in the number of unchurched people:
More than one in five (22%) of Americans say they never go to church, the highest ever recorded by the General Social Survey, conducted every two years by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. In 2004, the percentage was 17%.
Many of the unchurched are shaky on Christian basics, says LifeWay Research director Ed Stetzer.
That’s not surprising. There’s quite a few Christians who are shaky on the Christian basics so why should the unchurched be any different?
Non-churchgoers “lean to a generic god that fits into every imaginable religious system, even when (systems) contradict one another,” Stetzer says. “If you went back 100 years in North America, there would have been a consensus that God is the God in the Bible. We can’t assume this any longer.
“We no longer have a home-field advantage as Christians in this culture.”
Right, except that the majority still calls themselves Christian and exert a ridiculous amount of influence in our society. A persecuted minority you ain’t.
Most of the unchurched (86%) say they believe they can have a “good relationship with God without belonging to a church.” And 79% say “Christianity today is more about organized religion than loving God and loving people.”
“These outsiders are making a clear comment that churches are not getting through on the two greatest commandments,” to love God and love your neighbor, says Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. “When they look at churches … they don’t see people living out the faith.”
And sometimes that’s exactly what they see… and it worries them. I know it worries me from time to time. As always the folks who did the study are basically trying to figure out how to make the Christian religion palatable to people who find it unpleasant, because the Jesus Zombie always needs more braiiiiins to feed on.