The News Isn’t So Bad…Doesnt That Suck!

Posted: October 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

The good old days weren’t always so good and tomorrow’s not as bad as it seems.” Billy Joel Keeping the Faith

For some bizarre reason, evangelical Christians dig bad news–maybe its too many novels about the great tribulation or ever-present evils such as Thomas Kinkade paintings and Kirk Cameron movies.  Whatever the reason may be, my fellow conservative believers love bad news; especially bad statistics.

Take Thomas Rainer’s book The Bridger Generation, which claims that only 3% of Generation-Y profess Christ (compared to 15% of Gen-X, 35% of Baby Boomers and a whopping 65% of The Greatest Generation). I can tell stories about revivals in Africa and Asia and receive polite nods but when I quote Rainer’s stats, suddenly Christians start buzzing like a busted chainsaw!

The Body’s love of gloom and doom will probably relegate Bradley Wright’s new book to the bargain bin.  Wright’s Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Socialist Shatters Myths from the Secular and Christian Media systematically deconstructs many of the studies that have twisted so many of our panties into a wad over the last few decades.

For example,  Wright concludes that although single twenty- and thirtysomethings are not in fact joining churches in the numbers they previously had, young married couples are as likely to attend church today as they were thirty or forty years ago! Moreover, three-fourths of children raised in evangelical households remain evangelicals and as many believe the Bible is the literal Word of God as they did twenty-odd years ago.   

Also, in contrast to assertions by progressive Christian leaders like Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne, etc.  Wright found that the average evangelical who regularly attends church is highly empathetic to the poor and oppressed.  In contract to “findings” by Barna and others, conservative Christians who are active members of an evangelical congregation do NOT divorce at the same rates as those who do not attend church. 

What about books like “Unchristian” that claim the average “unchurched” person has a negative view of evangelicals? Wright found that actually only 40% of the religiously unaffiliated have a negative view of conservative Christians compared to 70% only ten years ago. 

In sum, Wright makes a compelling case that things are simply not as bad as they seem.

Now, Wright doesn’t nail everything.  He is guilty of abusing statistics when he argues that the estimated low percentage of church attendance at the time of the American Revolution (approximately 10%) belies any notion that the U.S. was ever a “Christian nation.”  Wright ignores the fact that many felt alienated from local established churches, many of which had become country clubs for educated and proper ladies and gentlemen and had actually fiercely opposed the first Great Awakening as “disorderly” and even labeled evangelists like George Whitfield as hucksters.  Moreover, the pioneer had few churches.  Thus, the low percentage of church attendance at the time of the Revolution and until the time of the second Great Awakening says more about the institutional churches at the time than the beliefs of the populace at large but this is a quibble. 

Wright’s book is generally solid, well-worth reading and packed with pretty good news about the state of the faith in our country.

Now, my fellow evangelical, if all this good news leaves you haunted by a strange melancholy, don’t fret my friends, I’m sure the Republicans will screw something up or K-Love will fail to make their goal during their annual pledge drive or some other disaster will ensue and the light will return to your eyes!

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