Reactions to the Pew Report: Why is church in U.S. in decline?


    In the Nov. 2 edition of the North Georgia Advocate we reported on the recent study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which showed a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who identify their religious affiliation as “none.”
          The “Nones” now constitute the nation’s second-largest religious group at 20 percent. According to Pew, “The continued growth of the religiously unaffiliated is one of several indicators suggesting that the U.S. public gradually may be growing less religious.”
      For the first time since Pew began tracking the religious identity of Americans, fewer than 50 percent said they were Protestants. Only 40 years ago, two-thirds of the population of the U.S. identified themselves as Protestant.
        Understandably, the Pew study has been met with alarm in the community of faith. There are numerous theories on the reasons for the decline of religious affiliation in the United States.
     Here are some responses to the Pew Report:
     “Thanks for your recent story regarding religion in America. It contained much information beneficial to all. Perhaps my one and only comment regarding the why of the decline and the increase of the ‘nones’ can best be put this way. Christians do not behave as Christians.
    “Professing to be a Christian is only the beginning. One must act and live as a Christian. There is no way some of our Christian brothers and sisters can take positions they do while claiming to follow Jesus the Christ. If we are a people set apart we must behave as such and behave so that they will know we are Christian by our love’." – Kyle Smith, Calhoun FUMC
        “I found your article timely. There are several things that I see. The majority of people outside the church see us as hypocrites. We only live our belief on Sunday Morning. The traditional church has grown old, set in our ways.
       “There are huge numbers of immigrants moving into our county from Asia, India and the Middle East that are not Christian and we are not reaching out to them as the Body of Christ. 
     “The ‘traditional church’ is no longer evangelical. The nondenominational churches are reaching out and growing.  
     “We need a revival in this country and in the UMC.” -- Ray Haulk, Dallas FUMC.
      “We recently attended a conference featuring Bob Mumford, who said he believes our challenge is sharing God, who is the most misunderstood and misrepresented being/person of all time. He believes it is because Christians compromise the reputation of the Father with their ungodly living. When we behave ungodly, are we still saved? Yes! Are we still going to heaven? Yes! But, at what cost? The reputation of the Father!
     “It makes sense. In the words of Casting Crowns, ‘The world is on their way to You, but they're tripping over me’." – Laura Nickens Hamby, Hiawassee UMC.
       “We’re living in a time of spiritual climate change. This is a historic breakpoint. We’ve been blabbing about pluralism for quite some time, but we never had it.
      “I think that we’re living in a time of great awakening. I can see this renewal of faith and spirituality.”
Diana Butler Bass, speaking at the recent United Methodist Association of Communicators conference  in Arlington, Va.
       The North Georgia Advocate would like to hear from you. Why do you think the church in the U.S. has been on the decline? And do you think there is any way to slow the trend or reverse it?
    To share your thoughts, email North Georgia Advocate editor Glenn Hannigan at or by mail: 4511 Jones Bridge Circle, Norcross, GA 30092.