-Protestant, Catholic, or None of the Above?


(-Image by wallyg via Flickr)

When I was a kid growing up in the 50’s and 60’s it seemed like everyone in the neighborhood and everyone our family knew were Christians. But no one really called themselves Christians, it was somewhat assumed–everyone was divided up as either Catholic or Protestant.

Then secondarily if you were Protestant you were also identified as a Baptist, Methodist, or whatever. Oh yes, there was the family at the end of the street that was Jewish–they were Americans also.

I remember being asked at the start of every school year whether I was Protestant or Catholic, we had Bible study once a week–Catholics went to the Catholic class and Protestants to the Protestant. My best friend in 6th grade was Jewish, don’t remember where he went during that time.

If you went into the army in those days your dogtags reflected 3 basic choices–Protestant, Catholic, and Jew. Never really knew anyone growing up that had no religion at all. America has obviously changed in the last 50 years or so.

Somewhere along the way In the 70’s and 80’s, born-again Christians who continued to recognize Biblical authority started calling themselves ‘Evangelicals’ to be differentiated from some of the more liberal main-line Protestants.

Now according to a recent poll, the country is far more diverse and divided than it use to be when it comes to religion. Now ‘none’ — no religion at all– is a larger group in America than Catholic and Evangelical has replaced Protestant as the most popular generic Christian label and one of the largest denomination groups is ‘non-denominational Christian’.

In a MinistryToday article- “God as a Fashion Statement” –it says the following about the growing “None” classification–

they represent a growing 15% of the population but as one researcher noted:

“These people aren’t secularized, they’re not thinking about religion and rejecting it; they’re not thinking about it at all.”

The survey found that among the ‘nones’, 40 percent of them had never experienced any kind of religious ceremony (e.g., baptism, christening, bar mitzvah), and a shocking 55 percent had been married in some sort of non-religious ceremony with no religious reference or trappings at all. Even more shocking , one state–Vermont has 34% of its population in the ‘none’ category, far more than any religious group in the state.

The article ends with this observation:

“The challenge to Christianity, does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion.”

I found many articles on the Internet citing the poll, nearly all proclaim and conclude that America is far less religious than it use to be. Something most of us already know. Another indication that change is ahead for the American Church one way or another.          

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