ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Christians and Christmas in 2010: A Survey [28]

Updated on May 19, 2015

The Sad Transformation of Christmas

From What Was Once Christian Spiritualality
From What Was Once Christian Spiritualality | Source
To Commercial
To Commercial | Source
To Somewhat Profane
To Somewhat Profane | Source

And the Surveys Said -

THE Monday, December 20, 2010 edition of USA Today published an article by Cathy Lynn Grossman that discussed the results of a couple of recent surveys conducted by LifeWay Research, a Christian research organization, and another by USA Today/Gallup. The results were very interesting and to Christians, at least. a might disappointing. I present them here, with my spin on them, to elicit what I hope will be some interesting back-and-forth in the ensuing comments.

The Results; at least at the time the polls were taken. Let me say that the sample size used by each, especially the LifeWay poll, were of sufficient magnitude that, everything else being conducted properly, the results can be trusted as a reliable representation of the whole population at the time the survey was taken. I do have one caveat, however. The LifeWay survey is subject to bias simply because it starts out from a biased point of view which "could" influence its sampling technique. This is not to that the sampling techniques were anything but entirely professional, which I am sure they were, but only that the bias is more of possibility than with a secular organization. In this case, however, if there was bias, it makes the results that much worse.

  • First, just to set the stage, from a recent ABC News poll, 83% of Americans identtify themselves as some sort of Christian (64% of whom said they were Protestant and 27% were Catholic), 13% no religion, and 4% non-Christian (I fall in the middle one if that is where spiritual is captured, BTW). By comparison, the world breaks down to 33%, 15%, 52%, respectively. I must say I was a bit surprised by these numbers. I thought the percentage of Christians in America approached 90% and in the world, 50%.
  • The most top-level statistic presented is that 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, be they Christians, atheists, agnostic, or non-Christians.
  • LifeWay found that 74% of those surveyed thought of Christmas as "primarily" religious while USA/Gallup found 51% thought so. Encouragingly to Christian leaders,that is up from 40% in 1989.
  • How does that translate into religious activities? Not very well.
  • Only 28%, about the number who identify themselves as very Conservative, read or tell Christmas stories from the Bible.
  • 34% will watch biblical Christmas movies Less than half,
  • 47% will attend church on Christmas Eve or Day
  • Only 58% will encourage others in the belief that Jesus Christ is savior.
  • 47% of respondents said that Christmas is less religious with children present
  • Even though 74% of those surveyed told LifeWay they thought Christmas was primarily religious, the same number said that most of the things they enjoy about Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus and that they celebrate Christmas because that is something you do as an American
  • In 2008, a Pew Forum found that 52% of American Christians believe at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life
  • LifeWay also found that 62% of those who follow non-Christian faiths, 89% who are simply spiritual, and 55% of atheists celebrate Christmas
  • Gallup and other polls have, over the long-term, measured general church attendance, not just Christmas, in North America at around 43%, Special studies, however, that went out and counted attendance or used other more direct measures, came up with much lower rates, on the order of 20 - 30%.


So, What Can We Say About All Those Numbers?

Quite a bit, although I promise to keep it short this time. The news isn't good for the Church leadership, although some do try to find the silver-lining. What is clear from these results is that Christian Americans talk out of both sides of their mouth. In one breath and in overwhelming numbers, they say they believe Christmas is about Jesus. But by their actions, and in almost as overwhelming numbers they show that Christmas to them has very little to do with Jesus. Simply put, American Christians, by and large, when it comes to Christmas anyway, are hypocrites with a capital 'H', don't you see.

And that makes me sad. While I am not a Christian, I do believe in the basic message of Jesus, at least that part of his message on how people ought to treat one another that can be agreed upon between Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is a good message and ought to be celebrated honestly as it once was and not as this commercial bonanza for retailer and kids that it has become.

There is a lot of fodder for discussion in those startling, to me at least, statistics that I am going to keep my promise of making this one of my shortest hubs and let you all do the writing.


And Now It Is 2015

A CNN ARTICLE TITLED No, American Christianity is NOT Dead caught my eye and prompted me to update and republish this Hub. It refers to a recent study by Pew Research and I wanted to convey and comment on some of the results.

The research and the article made a point which, while obvious to all, is often overlooked. And that is there are three types of Christians. You have the "Cultural", the "Congregational", and the "Convictional". The former are those people who identify as Christian only because that is the culture they come from; they rarely, if ever, go to church and they certainly don't center their lives around what a particular Christian denomination says they need to believe. "Congregationalists", on the other hand, identify more closely to the Christian faith and sometimes go to church. Finally, "Convictional" Christians are those who do go to church often and do center their lives around their given denomination; these are your evangelicals and fundamentalists. This latter group often claim the other two are not Christians at all (which has the effect of greatly diminishing the total population of Christians worldwide and especially in America).

While the data does show a slow, overall decline in the number of Americans calling themselves Christian, you need to understand the above to make sense of the the table below

MIGRATION OF BELIEFS

RELIGION
2007 %
2014 %
Percent Change
Christians of Any Sort
78.4
70.6
- 9.9
Evangelical Protestant
26.3
25.4
- 3.4
Chatholic
23.9
20.8
- 13.0
Mainline Protestant
18.1
14.7
- 18.8
Unaffiliated
16.1
22.8
+ 41.6
Other Religion
4.7
5.9
+ 25.5
TABLE 1

NOTICE THAT EVANGELICALS HAVE REMAINED almost constant, losing only 3.4%; these are your "Convictionalists". It is the "Nominal" Christians, the Cultural and Congregationalists, that have suffered the most losing 13% and 19% for Catholics and Mainline Protestants, respectively. And, where have they all gone? Mainly to the "Unaffiliated" or "None" category with its 45% increase over the last seven years.

While the article seems to downplay this a bit, to me it is quite impressive. It does bring America more in line with the rest of the world where evangelical and fundamental Christianity has suffered much larger declines. The author should really consider the other data, like in the Table 2 below, before suggesting Christianity in America may not be going the way of Europe.

Long-Term Outlook. - Percent of Total US Population

BIRTH YEAR -->
Silent Majority 1928 - 1945
Baby Boomers 1946 - 1964
Generation X 1965 - 1980
Older Millennials 1981 - 1989
Younger Millennials 1990 - 1996
Total Christian
85
78
70
57
56
--- Protestant
57
52
45
38
36
Evangelical
30
28
25
22
19
Mainline
22
17
13
10
11
Historically Black
5
7
7
6
6
--- Catholic
24
23
21
16
16
--- Other Christian Groups
3
3
4
3
3
Other Faiths
4
5
6
8
8
Unaffiliated
11
17
23
34
36
Don't Know/Not Sure
0
1
1
1
1
TABLE 2

CONSIDER WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN AS THE GENERATION before me and my generation (1947) begin to die off; 15% of my high school class (1965) has bit the dust as of 2015. The die-off of baby-boomers and those who came before us is only going to accelerate over the next 20 years, isn't it?

Notice that from the Silent Majority to the Baby-Boomers, the percentage of Americans who thought of themselves, in their birth cohort, as Christians dropped from a very high 85% to a still very respectable 75%. But suppose America was made up of only Gen Xers, those thinking of themselves to 70%, 15 points below the high. BUT, if only Millennials existed, America would be only 56 - 57% Christian! To me, that indicates a significant long-term decline of American Christians ... does it to you?

This pattern is not limited to just the "Nominal" Christians, it applies to "Convictionists" as well. The only sub-group of Christians that doesn't seem to be affected by age are black Christians. What is increasing, however, is "Other Faiths" (which has doubled over the ages) and, obviously, Unaffiliated.

Clearly, the only thing that is going to reverse the trend of the de-Christianization of America is 1) is the Millennial generation changes course and suddenly become religious and/or 2) the next generation is composed primarily of Christians.

Religion Corner

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      My Esoteric 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thanks Tony and Amen to that.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      I think that Christmas has been commercialised so much that the commercial opportunity to rip people off because of setimental attachments is now the most important feature of the season and the day. People seem to get caught up in a kind of madness at Christmas time and it has become a time of increased depression and suicide rates which is very sad.

      I don't think the actual date of Jesus' birth is relevant anyway. It's rather an academic question.

      Thanks for sharing the results of these two polls. They are interesting.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      My Esoteric 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      CMerritt - That is a wonderful two cents, two dollars even. There isn't a thing you said that I can disagree with nor would I want to. That is why, in my hub, I said I was sad things have turned out as they have and why I hold the teachings or the idea of Jesus Christ in such high regard even though I do not do the same for the Christian or other monotheistic churches. As to the athiests, I don't really agree with them either but that is for another hub.

      Obviously, I count you in that 23% who actually observe Christmas for what it is meant to be and hope you are correct that many I call hypocrit, aren't in their heart.

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Okay, here is my take on Christmas. I personally find it a wonderful time to reflect upon Jesus Christ, and his significance to the world based upon the Christian belief. I have accepted my personal beliefs, based upon the teachings by the Holy Bible. The significant impact that Christ has had to millions and millions of people is astonishing. Although no person is perfect, ah heck, let's just say it, we are far, far from perfect. Yes, this has set up a whole new meaning to the word Hypocrit. I cannot argue that. But, please don't dismiss the millions and millions of wonderful folks that was developed because of the "role" that Christ left for all of us. I'm not even talking about the spiritual significance, just the face value of His presence on this earth some 2000 plus years ago. Now, throw in the personal and spiritual touch that He has left, and the masses of folks who have turned their lives around for the good. The drug addictions, the obnoxious lifestyles that was eradicated, due to the spiritual significance that Christ has given.

      So, despite any real facts of exactly when He was born is in my opinion, irrevelant. The fact that this day is commerating as the birth of the Savior to Mankind is real. Now just because many people has fallen into the trap of the commericialization of this day, does not mean that, in their hearts, they don't still take time to pay tribute in their own way.

      I think there is a growing push by athiests to disassemble all religious aspects of this day. I think they have accomplished a lot over the last few decades. I think there is a new breed of "Christians" that may not be the traditional believer, but still holds this day close to them on a personal level, even IF, the come across as a Hypocrit.

      at least that is my two cents.

      :)

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      My Esoteric 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thank you for your comment Bucks Here. I suppose you would have to be correct regarding Christmas not being a part of the Bible. While it would be possible, timeline-wise, it wouldn't be probable given the purpose of the New Testament. Also, celebrating Jesus' birth in Winter is a bit problematic in itself because Scripture shows that to be impossible unless the seasons have reversed themselves over the last 2000 years. I suspect public celebration would have to be after Christianity was formally legalized by Emporer Constantine in 313. The first record of the celebration of the birth being on Dec 25th was in 354 AD. The more important date in that time was Jan 8, the date of Jesus' baptism. This date was celebrated for the next 600 years or so. Why the celebration was moved to a pagaen holiday and made in honor of a birth that couldn't have happened in that season is anybody's guess; maybe it was in honor of Constantine.

    • Bucks here profile image

      Bucks here 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      You have a very interesting article.

      My little bit, will just say that Xmas or Christmas has no affiliation in true Christianity, it never did. In honesty its not even a biblical incident, or celebrated by Biblical Christians.

      Peace

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)