New survey of the “unchurched” finds that 44% think “Christians are annoying.”

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:

Survey: Non-attendees find faith outside church – USATODAY.com

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.

7 thoughts on “New survey of the “unchurched” finds that 44% think “Christians are annoying.”

  1. It is certainly a scandal (in the churchy sense) that folks find organized religion / church to be an annoying place filled with hypocrites and those seeking brain-numbing domination over others.  There are certainly churches that don’t fit that description (I attend one), but I’m sure there are many that do.  There are a lot of prominent “Christian spokemen” and preachers who fit that description and who give Christians a bad name (and teach others to do so as well).

    Indeed, sometimes it seems that it’s a prerequisite that one be an annoying, hypocritical ignoramus in order to get ahead in the media-driven church world.

      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.”

    I think there’s still a definite, very large “home field advantage,” but it’s not the Dream Team sort of domination of the field that it used to be.  I think that’s a good thing.

  2. Indeed, sometimes it seems that it’s a prerequisite that one be an annoying, hypocritical ignoramus in order to get ahead in the media-driven church world.

    Well why not?  It’s worked great in American politics.  And given the large number of Christians who believe that political power is important for the church to have, they can’t help absorbing a bit of what they’re swimming in.  Somehow it never occurs to them that they’re reducing the church from its putative status as mystical Body Of Christ to just another political party.

    As Les said, not too clear on Christian basics.

  3. It work great both in politics and in the media—and, sometimes I think, just with people in general.  It’s a lot easier to rile people up messages of hate and power and greed than messages of love, hope, and compassion.  It’s a lot more effective to draw self-aggrandizing lines between Us and Them than to be welcoming and inclusive.

  4. It took a poll to figure this out?  I suppose everyone at church just figures we’re too ashamed of our sinful lives to show up, or just haven’t heard the “good news” yet. 
    The door knocking, the name calling, the persecution complexes, the dependence on make-believe authority, the constant interference in education, science, and politics-who could find all that stuff annoying? 
    I have a few friends who are fairly modern, somewhat liberal christians.  It’s hilarious.  They smoke if they want, drink Budweiser, and during a lively converstaion, every third word is some variation of “fuck.”  Yet my blasphemy offends them when I use “Christ” as an expletive or challenge any of their uniquely American perspectives on religion.
    Belief in magic words, unwillingness to reconsider ideas, all with a holier-than-thou attitude and smug disapproval.  Who could find that annoying?
    I guess the Ned Flanders of the world don’t watch the Simpsons.  From what I can tell, they don’t pay any attention to opinion polls, either.

    Just a note-from what I have read over the last couple of years, none of my rants seem to apply to ***Dave.  Only a few of my christian friends and family members show his willingness to think, have an open mind, and not get too offended by heathens like myself.  I know there must be more like him, but they sure don’t make the news too often.

  5. It took a poll to figure this out?  I suppose everyone at church just figures we’re too ashamed of our sinful lives to show up, or just haven’t heard the “good news” yet. 
    The door knocking, the name calling, the persecution complexes, the dependence on make-believe authority, the constant interference in education, science, and politics-who could find all that stuff annoying? 
    I have a few friends who are fairly modern, somewhat liberal christians.  It’s hilarious.  They smoke if they want, drink Budweiser, and during a lively converstaion, every third word is some variation of “fuck.”  Yet my blasphemy offends them when I use “Christ” as an expletive or challenge any of their uniquely American perspectives on religion.
    Belief in magic words, unwillingness to reconsider ideas, all with a holier-than-thou attitude and smug disapproval.  Who could find that annoying?
    I guess the Ned Flanders of the world don’t watch the Simpsons.  From what I can tell, they don’t pay any attention to opinion polls, either.

    Just a note-from what I have read over the last couple of years, none of my rants seem to apply to ***Dave.  Only a few of my christian friends and family members show his willingness to think, have an open mind, and not get too offended by heathens like myself.  I know there must be more like him, but they sure don’t make the news too often

  6. I do keep hoping for sudden fame and fortune so that I can become a publicly known representative for Relatively Sane (Accepting Their Dubious Premises) Christians …

    Although I suspect “fame and fortune” (viz being a religious leader) is insanely difficult to balance with what I’d consider a Christian (indeed, any moral) lifestyle. 

    Which is probably why “we” (you *will* turn my head) don’t get in the news too often.  Heck, I’d say that’s true for anyone who’s more interested in keeping his own nose clean than in making someone else clean theirs, regardless of the context.

    For what it’s worth, though, I find Ned Flanders hilarious.

    In my own church-going experience, I’d say most of the people I know figure that people who aren’t there on Sunday either have other stuff going on (“gotta take the kids to the soccer game”), or have decided that, yes, church and churchgoers are too annoying (assuming we’re talking here about people who are ostensibly members of religions that have churches).

    The “good news,” as far as I’m concerned, is that there *are* churches out there with welcoming, non-judgmental people attending, who are there not out of fear of hell (or out of thought that churchgoing will avoid same), but because they enjoy the experience and the other people there.

    YMMV, of course, and I’ll try not generalize too much … but such place do exist.  A shame there aren’t enough (or they aren’t interesting enough) to make the news.

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