|Saturday, July 4th, referring to the Unanimous Declaration of Independence when we were a Christian nation in contrast to the recent trend.
The figure above indicates the proportion of US adult residents who identify as Christians has decreased 13 percentage points from 78% in 2007 to 65% in 2019 while the proportion of religiously unaffiliated increased by 10 percentage points from 16% to 26%. The religiously unaffiliated residents, also known as “nones”, are comprised of adults who describe their religious identity as ”nothing in particular” (17% in 2019), agnostic (5%), or atheist (4%). I’m concerned about America’s trend going from a clearly Christian nation at its foundation as indicated in the Unanimous Declaration of Independence with references to:
· Separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them
· Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
· Commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.
I hope each of you reading this is concerned as well.
In Psalm 14:1-7, King David states his adverse reactions to Israelites who say “there is no God”. The King starts with calling them fools using Hebrew words denoting their “nones” as morally deficient. Furthermore, King David indicates that their “nones” are all corrupt and there are none of them seeking God nor does any one of them do any good things. Also, they are overwhelmed with dread of God who is in the company of the righteous. All of this is bad news like America has been experiencing over the past decade. But King David closes on the bright side looking forward to the day that our Lord will restore his people out of captivity so Jacob will rejoice and Israel will be glad!
Psalm 14: 1-7
New International Version (NIV)
1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the Lord.
5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending upon one’s point of view (I think it’s fortunate) since America separates government from church and religion, individual citizens of the USA cannot arrest or convict other citizens as nones due to their religious beliefs. Fortunately, however, the Pew Research Center survey asked nones why they were religiously unaffiliated. As a result, we can we pick a legal and Christian position to take in an attempt to convince nones that affiliating with a Christian church can add considerable joy to one’s life on earth and for all eternity thereafter (John 3: 16).
The first two columns of the table below show the top reasons nones gave as the most important reasons they were unaffiliated with any religious organization and the percentages who gave each reason. The third column contains the ideas which came to my mind as potential responses to each of the nones’ reasons. The ideas I’ve expressed above were significantly influenced by devotionals and essays written by Dr. Jim Denison for the DenisonForum.org. I highlighted the closing of one of the most pertinent articles (Protestants no longer the majority in the U.S., October 10, 2012): “God …is using news such as the Pew report to warn his people that business as usual will not reach our culture. And he is burdening more Christians to pray fervently for spiritual awakening in our nation. Will you join us?” In many articles like this, Dr. Denison is prone to indicating how important it is to speak “… the truth in love, so we will, in all things, grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
For me that is not particularly easy. The key for me to overcome my difficulties in such situations is to pray requesting help from the Holy Spirit. This thinking calls for me to recognize “… that the future is open to us and that there is power that goes with us we cannot control. The spirit is a reminder of the forces of life beyond our control but at the same time within our grasp. The spirit, if harnessed correctly, becomes the wind at your back. It’s the breath that shapes the kind words that lift your spirits on a bad day. It’s the fire that brings warmth, courage, and renewal.”… So …If it feels like you’re alone, just breathe.” (Extracted from Garrett’s sermon on May 31, 2020).
|Reasons nones are unaffiliated
||How I may respond
|I question a lot of religious teachings
||Different Christian churches teach different beliefs. Woodland includes anyone who accepts Jesus as Lord. Other churches may not accept members from a LGBTQ community. The New Braunfels Unitarian Universalist Church is intentionally more inclusive towards bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people.
|I don’t like the positions churches take on social/political issues
||Woodland generally doesn’t take on political issues but other churches may take different positions e.g. the 1st Baptist Church of Dallas pastor endorsed Trump while Max Lucado said he wouldn’t let Trump date his daughter.
|I don’t like religious organizations
||God loves everyone even nones. If you tried enough churches you would find at least one that you like.
|I don’t believe in God
||I suspect atheists don’t really believe there is no God they believe they are God.
|Religion is irrelevant to me
||So you think immorality is irrelevant to you as long you can get away with it.
|I don’t like religious leaders
||Most religious leaders love God because God first loved them. There are some religious leaders in San Antonio that I don’t like but I love all members of Woodland especially the leaders.
|Source: the 1st 2 columns: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/08/ why-americas-nones-dont-identify-with-a-religion/; Ken is responsible for the 3rd column.