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The Decline and Fall of Christianity: Cultural Indicators

Updated on November 3, 2013
Calvin Klein is known for the sexual content in its ads
Calvin Klein is known for the sexual content in its ads | Source

Secular culture

Liberalizing developments such as abortion, gay marriage, extramarital sex, women's rights and no-fault divorce point to a significant shift away from traditional Christian values. Unsurprisingly, the Roman Catholic church and other Christian bodies resist these trends. But this in vain. Today, 95% of American adults have had premarital sex. The culture of western societies is generally shot through with sexual content. In 2007, 60% of all American births to women 20-24 years old were outside of marriage.

Europe, the cradle of modern Christianity, has especially seen a decline in religiosity. Over one-third of all births in the European Union are to unmarried women. The majority of children are now born out of wedlock in Estonia, France, Sweden and Bulgaria.

Secular alternatives have displaced Christ in the popular consciousness. For most people of the rich world, career, nationality, race, gender, social status or political ideology are more fundamental to their lives than religion.

In 2011, Americans spent less than one hour per day, on average, on "organizational, civic and religious activities." Specifically, they spent 0.26 hours on weekdays and 0.56 hours on weekends on such activities. By contrast, 0.71 hours on weekdays are used to "purchase goods and services," and 0.82 on weekends. This compares to over 4 hours per day spent on "leisure and sports" (more than 6 hours on the weekends).

Source

This God doesn't fit, try a new one

As many as 44% of American adults have switched religious affiliations at some point in their lives. In some studies, this number is amazingly more than half of all Americans.

Americans become less religious as they get older. From childhood to adulthood, the two biggest religious groups--Protestants and Catholics-- see a decline in adherence. The unaffiliated category (which includes atheists and agnostics) sees a significant increase.

In a flexible culture marked by religious freedom, people switch religions as they see fit. Changing beliefs, feelings, life circumstances and sense of belonging determine where and what they worship. There is an emphasis on what "feels right," rather than objective standards of truth that one must accept whether they like it or not.

The consumerization of religion is a fact in the rich countries of the modern west. Japanese mix and match traditions from a variety of religions for various purposes. Many Japanese celebrate the birth of a child with a visit to a Shinto shrine, have western Christian-style weddings (complete with the exchange of rings and a white wedding gown), and conduct funerals according to Buddhist traditions.

Church converted to restaurant and bar in Pittsburgh
Church converted to restaurant and bar in Pittsburgh | Source

The religion market: the customer is always blessed

In a competitive religious marketplace, religious communities need to innovate to survive and grow. They must provide pleasing experiences, or people will leave. This has resulted in a variety of interesting developments, such as the Prosperity Gospel. The Reverend Creflo Dollar offers daily Biblically-inspired text messages, for a fee of $4.99 per month.

A feel-good message emphasizing self improvement and personal development has arisen. This message often bears as much resemblance to a Tony Robbins speech as to a sermon from Jesus. Peddlers of this message are exceedingly influential, and include Joel Osteen, who runs the largest church in America at 44,000 attendance, and Rick Warren, the eighth largest. These ministries reach millions globally through the media.

From the erosion of traditional Christianity itself, to its hollowing out by secularism and humanism, the culture is a major factor in Christianity's decline.

Power of prayer

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    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      6 years ago from New York City

      Well, keep praying for a turnaround. Hasn't ever really accomplished much, but you're free to do whatever.

      I still don't get why Christ hid his believers amongst all these supposed "false" Christians. What's he hiding from.

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 

      6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Actually 'size' (in this equation) does not matter, it helps that nearly 50% of the world profess your religion to be theirs also, in political terms, as it keeps Christ's opponents from targeting the core believers, but in reality, the prayer of even one diligent believer can change anything.

      Gideon was a classic example of power displayed over might.

      I would rather have ten believers praying for me than an army of security guards.

      Christ hid His believers amongst Churchianity.

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      6 years ago from New York City

      Well that's an odd choice on the part of God, isn't it? Haha.

      In any case, it does say something about the true Christians out there that their influence is so small over modern civilization, relative to what it once was.

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 

      6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      There are (I believe) actual Christians in all shapes and sizes, in all denominational groupings, God has chosen to hide believers amongst the tares and hirelings of Churchianity.

      When we face God, His question will not be which denomination do you belong to?

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      6 years ago from New York City

      Thanks, Lone Ranger.

      Catholics and Mormons are in fact Christians, despite theological differences with Protestants. Common misunderstanding it seems.

      Any way we slice it though, all these Christian groups are becoming less relevant over time.

    • profile image

      Lone Ranger 

      6 years ago

      Great Hub, well-written and thought provoking. Thank you!

      According to a study reported by the 700 Club, Christianity in America will be dead within 40 years.

      In another study, Mormons and Atheists knew the Bible better than Christians, with Roman Catholics bringing up the rear.

      Personally, I feel too many "Christians" crave the good life, have succumbed to prosperity preaching, and to a great extent, live their lives no differently than the heathen does, except perhaps, for an hour or two on Sunday mornings where they pass out business cards and conduct exercises in networking.

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      6 years ago from New York City

      Thanks, chef. I'm reminded of Dostoevsky's story of the Grand Inquisitor's run-in with Jesus himself!

      Thanks for coming.

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      6 years ago from New York City

      Thanks, Aguasilver. I'm sure there will always be at least one Christian somewhere in the world. Heck, there are still Zoroastrians around today.

      Appreciate it.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 

      6 years ago from Citra Florida

      What disturbs me is the number of people who claim to be Christian yet follow an atheist philosopher like Ayn Rand.

      How many "good Christians" cheer for the death penalty, advocate torture and cry "let him die" for an uninsured man?

      If Christ were to come to this America, we would crucify him, all while proclaiming our Christianity.

      The enduring religion of America has become hypocrisy.

      Up and Awesome

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 

      6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Well put, my only comment would be that what you write about should be termed 'Churchianity' because Christians are still out here alive and well.

      Churchianity will sink into apostasy, like WD said, that is predicted and is happening, for Christ's believers this is good news, he is coming soon, for Churchianity it means an end to the gravy train of temporal comforts.

      Voted up! and FB'd

      John

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      I can't be shocked. It is prophesied in the Bible.

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      6 years ago from New York City

      Arcjahad:

      The church's embrace of humanism and secularism was all but inevitable given the trends of these free, open and pluralistic societies. Religion is no longer protected as it was centuries ago by the force of the state. It must compete for people's attention and provide them with enjoyable experiences, or it withers away. One way or another, history has shown it cannot resist the secular evolution of modern society.

      Thanks for coming.

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      6 years ago from New York City

      Thanks, WD.

      A free society helps individuals realize their potential, and freedom in religion is extremely important to that end.

    • profile image

      Arcjahad 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      I feel the reason that Christianity is declining is that the church leadership is corrupt and that to many man made traditions are mixed into it basically the pure word isn't being delivered.

      So I took it upon myself to study the scriptures for what they actually say and that journey has been wonderful but at first I was shocked by the open deception that church preaches like our heavenly father doesn't have a name ( it actually was replaced with Lord and God), that sinners will burn in hell for eternity and that name Jesus. Now before you get mad research thoroughly and you will discover that the three topics I wrote about are deceptions that the church leadership knows about but will make a million excuses to support the reasons for the changes in scripture but always remember man does not have the authority to change anything in scripture ,by the way I like this hub you put forth many good points

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      I am a Christian. I don't have a knee jerk reaction to this hub. I think you covered the ground well and succinctly. I have changed my beliefs (religion?) three times (at least) in this life, and that is the beauty of a free society.

      You can present this well thought out essay. No one can deny what you say . . . they may not like it. That is the beauty of a free society. I am glad to see people use their freedom of speech. It is refreshing when it is done with precision and eloquence.

      The ads are a trip.

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