The End of Evangelical Christianity

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Within 10 years, evangelical Christianity will cease to exist.

This deterioration of the mainline Protestant world will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. And not a moment too soon, I might add.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today identify as  Evangelicals. In the 20th century, Evangelicals flourished but they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Why will this happen?

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate faith with any coherence. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

2. Evangelicals have failed to pass on to young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism.

5. The money will dry up.

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23 Responses to The End of Evangelical Christianity

  1. ichabod says:

    It is ironic.

    That which you predict is also predicted in the book the call the bible.

    You may be right.

    What if they are too?

  2. It is troubling to me that the faithful are loosing faith. I know I lost my faith because of how I saw religion treating homosexuality. Faith can serve a purpose in society, I know I miss it. That said, I am not so sure I feel too bad about the idea of religion loosing it’s hold on our country.

  3. Prairiedog says:

    People confuse “faith” with “spirituality.”

    Most spiritual people I know don’t attend church and they certainly support gay rights.

    What people forget is, to live a spiritual life means you don’t judge, you help the poor and needy and you treat people with kindness. You don’t need a preacher or a minister or a Pope to give you permission to do any of these things — you just do it and quietly.

  4. Rachel says:

    Religions destructive influence permeates our thoughts, our behaviors and our relationships with people around us. While religions do not actively preach violence, its influence is responsible for more condemnation, rejection and destruction to humanity than any of force or influence. The path of history is littered with the victims of religion.

  5. Harry says:

    I love the “Blow Me” Jesus fish. It always cracks me up anytime you use it in a post. 🙂

  6. Pingback: The end of Christianity and the rise of secularism….ironic? « Plain View

  7. feminazi says:

    The thing about the Evangelicals that frightens me is their bunker mentality. It’s always them against the gays, minorities, Muslims, single mothers, or liberals. They act as if they’re at war with those who they disagree and apparently, they are. Evangelicals are so rigid in their world view that I think it drives people away instead of attracting them to their cause.

  8. toujoursdan says:

    I read this when it came out. It seems to have been written by a conservative (anti-gay) evangelical who wants to see a smaller and more purified church. His claim that the collapse of the evangelical world will somehow benefit the Catholic and Orthodox churches fails to take into account that both of those churches are in collapse as well. If lapsed Catholics were a religious denomination they would outnumber Southern Baptists.

    As an active, progressive Anglican/Episcopalian I have mixed feelings fading Christian influence in society. When I read the Sermon on the Mount I see values that are still counter cultural in our world of materialism and celebrity worship and need to should be shared. At the same time, organized Christianity has done a lousy job at sharing them, so maybe a change is in order. But when I look across my small VERY gay friendly, progressive Anglican church who works hard to serve the community and see a greying and dwindling congregation I feel sad.

  9. Bel Ami says:

    Evangelical Christianity=Westboro Baptist Church.

    Nuff said.

  10. panasit (the Original) says:

    It is customary for historians to describe the Crusades as eight in number:

    1. the first, 1095-1101;
    2. the second, headed by Louis VII, 1145-47;
    3. the third, conducted by Philip Augustus and Richard Coeur-de-Lion, 1188-92;
    3. the fourth, during which Constantinople was taken, 1204;
    4. the fifth, which included the conquest of Damietta, 1217;
    5. the sixth, in which Frederick II took part (1228-29); also Thibaud de Champagne and Richard of Cornwall (1239);
    6. the seventh, led by St. Louis, 1249-52;
    7. the eighth, also under St. Louis, 1270.

    The Crusades brought a mixture of benefits and horrors. On one hand, there was a new knowledge of the East and the possibilities of trade to be found there, not to mention the spread of Christianity. On the other hand, Christianity was spread in a violent, militaristic manner, and the result was that new areas of possible trade turned into new areas of conquest and bloodshed. A number of non-Christians lost their lives to Christian armies in this era, and this trend would continue in the inquisitions of the coming centuries.

    I would argue the number of Crusades now stands at nine.

    In the 1970s, conservative Christians quickly emerged to counter social changes led by charismatic, energetic figures like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Phyllis Schlafly, and activists who sought to defend traditional Christian values such as the authority of the Bible in all areas of life, the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, and the relevance of Biblical values in sexual relations and marital arrangements. What differentiated Falwell, Robertson, and Schlafly from other Christian spokesmen was their linking of traditional Christian values with images of a simpler small-town America of the past. Indeed, the Christian Right proved so successful in translating its concerns to a wider audience that national pollster George Gallup pronounced 1976 “the year of the evangelical.” The mass media agreed. Both Time and Newsweek ran cover articles on the insurgence of evangelical Protestant Christianity.

    The media became the military arsenal for the Ninth Crusade as traditional militaria wasn’t available to the evangelical Christians too use against non-believers. However, guns and fire bombers did attack gay bars and abortion clinics in the name of God and Jesus.

    The Ninth Crusade is an overwhelming failure by any measure.

  11. Walk on Socks says:

    Panasit – Well aren’t you a smarter pants?

  12. dguzman says:

    I hope you’re right.

  13. VicoDANIEL says:

    I am absolutely cool with faith, religion, spirituality or none of the above.

    What annoys the hell out of me is when a person of faith use their beliefs to marginalize and/or discriminate against someone with whom they disagree. Falling back on, “the Bible say so,” isn’t a compelling argument to deny equality to gay and lesbian Americans and were it not for the separation of church and state, gays and lesbians would be relegated to sweeping streets and chipping off gum from sidewalks for careers and living in tents.

    Also, I am diametrically and vehemently opposed to churches being exempt from paying taxes on their vast holdings and profits.

  14. Ethan Mendel says:

    There’s a sad reality to the trend that secular society is overwhelming those who hold to their religion and undoubtedly are feeling more and more alone with each day that passes.
    Regardless of what their beliefs are and whether or not I disagree with them or the policies they wish to employ, I cannot help but feel the pain that the truest believers amongst them must feel: that they are alone in a world that is slowly turning against God.
    I myself am not religious, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t respect and empathize with them, even if I personally support gay rights and disagree on multiple other issues.

  15. toujoursdan says:

    One of the dangers here is that people assume that a trend will continue into the future, but religious affiliation and observance has always fluctuated over the centuries. J.S. Bach played his cantatas to empty churches and church attendence was relatively low in the U.K. at the time of Charles Darwin as well as in the 1920s. The Postwar (WWII) era was unusual in its high level of religious observance and the “decline” we have experienced in the 1960s to present is likely to be a reset to more normal levels.

    One could argue that as the economy tanks, there is more job insecurity and materialism ceases to be the “be-all and end-all” of our existence more people may turn to both informal spirituality and organized religion. So these trends may not continue. That’s one reason I have stayed in church so that those who return understand that they can continue to hold progressive values and not check their brains at the door.

  16. TOM339 says:

    People should be free to believe whatever they want just don’t try to force your religious beliefs down my throat because I won’t stand for it.

    This is where the religious right went rightwing wrong in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

    They never accepted the fact we are a nation of many beliefs, faiths and no beliefs at all.

  17. BradFrmPhnx says:

    The end of religious rightwingnuts?

    Doesn’t break my heart.

  18. You can’t kill lunacy. It’ll simply take another form, so the idea of it being ‘dead’ is erroneous.

  19. Estacada says:

    You don’t need to donate $$$ to the 700 Club, or Praise the Lord, or the Catholic Church to get a connection to God.

    All you have to do is sit quietly and pray. I’m not the most devout person on earth but I do think there’s something greater than this world.

    The religious right and most of organized religion has done a damned good job of bastardizing faith and spirituality and usually, it’s motivated by greed.

  20. I am almost afraid to respond to what you wrote mostly becasue last time I responded to such twisted backwards blog I got put down for disagreeing with the writer and labeled as someone who hates and not loves ? Just because someone disagrees with you does NOT mean they hate you. The whole articles sounds just like the atheiest that tried to convince everyone the bible was just a book and then shortly after his death the very first bible was printed in his house and thousands were sent around the world….

    Just fact you have rude remark as blow me inside christian symbol speaks volumes of how twisted you are.

    Just because you were burnt by religion and hurt and offended and NEVER realized what real love and acceptance is and you have to look to another man for something ONLY God can give tells me how twisted you are.

    Just because you speak like you KNOW what your talking about and claim what you say to be the absolute truth tells me how twisted you are…

    Guess you have no idea what the difference is between having religion verses relationship.

    religion is knowing God getting to God via man made bridge

    relationship is knowing God intimately and getting to him thru his way the way he provided JESUS

    when bible says someone is evil most of time it refers to them believing twisted truth.

    homosexuals are only people that get in pride about there sin…you dont see heterosexuals having parades to show off there sin…

    If homosexuals realized the one who made them loved them they wouldnt look to another for love and acceptance that only God can give…

    NO God didnt make you gay…devil and demons speak to you at the theta level of the mind and becasue you dont have clue about being a spiritual person you think the thoughts they put in your head are your thoughts not theres

    devil steals deceives and destroys…Jesus came to give you life


    you can either live the lie in pride and reject truth and think your way is right and God is wrong or you can accept HIS TRUTH and BE FREE

    there is ALOT to what I just said I know Im gonna get alot of hate for what I did say

    JESUS loves you and dont NEED to do anything sexual or immoral to prove it

    sex has nothing to do with love between 2 men or woman

    only a twisted mind deceived rejecting God would say otherwise

  21. toujoursdan says:

    Well, the sooner that kind of tripe goes away, the better.

  22. RealWorldRadical says:

    This is fortune telling. One makes the same unlikely calls for the same reason unknown wall street “experts” make the wildest calls — you get ignored if wrong, and all the mdeia attention in the unlikely case you’re right.

    All the surveys point to growth of evangelical churches, and a continued liberalization of their beliefs. Sure, I think they’re a pain in the ass and would like to see them gone, but I’m not going to talk myself into it out of wishful thinking.

  23. Ana Paulino says:

    We need more blogs like this one with challenging points of view around religious fanatics.

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