A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

More Than 90% of Americans Believe in God. George Gallup, Jr. Is Unimpressed

The following article was passed on to me by a friend, Paul Levy, who teaches psychology at Akron University. I quote only a portion.
Decade after decade, the Gallup Organization reported some of the most familiar numbers in American religion.

More than 90 percent of Americans said, "yes" when asked if they believe in God -- a number that has changed little since the 1940s. Nearly 80 percent insisted they are "Christians," in some sense of that word. How many claimed to have attended a worship service in the previous week or so? That number hovered between 41 percent and 46 percent.

These are the kinds of numbers religious leaders love to quote when trying to intimidate politicians, educators, journalists and Hollywood producers.

Nevertheless, these poll numbers consistently failed to impress one significant authority -- George Gallup Jr.

"We revere the Bible, but don't read it," warned the famous pollster, in an address to the Evangelical Press Association. "We believe the Ten Commandments to be valid rules for living, although we can't name them. We believe in God, but this God is a totally affirming one, not a demanding one. He does not command our total allegiance. We have other gods before him."

The bottom line, he said in an interview after that 1990 address, is that most American believers simply "want the fruits of religion, but not the obligations." (the full article can be read here.)

Gallup is spot on. Christianity in America is just as consumer oriented as Christmas. But what else should be expected when everything in our society, including blood, is a commodity. We look at our faith as primarily what it can do for us and not how the exercise of our faith is for the sake of others. The church exists not for its own sake, but for the sake of the world.

The long and short of it is the church in America spends too much time trying to attract more consumers who will simply leave when they believe there is a better product elsewhere, when instead we should be making disciples of Jesus Christ. Contrary to what some want to believe, God does have demands of us, and it involves much more than simply being nice to the neighbor next door.

More than 90% of Americans believe in God. Along with George Gallup, Jr. I say, "So what?"

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