Wednesday, June 08, 2005

God-Lite Doesn't Cut It For Many Americans

Hat tip to Greg.
The most recent “Religious Congregations and Membership” study, published in 2000 (the study is conducted each decade) by the Glenmary Research Center, tells the statistical story. Progressive churches are progressing, it seems, ever closer to oblivion. The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (11,106 churches) has experienced a decline of 11.6 percent over the previous ten years; the United Methodist Church (35,721 churches) was down 6.7 percent; and the Episcopal Church (7,314 churches) lost 5.3 percent of its membership. Also, the United Churches of Christ (5,863 churches) declined 14.8 percent while the American Baptist Churches USA were down 5.7 percent.

The denominations showing growth included the deeply conservative Southern Baptist Convention, a collection of 41,514 churches, whose overall growth rate was 5 percent. The traditionalist Presbyterian Church in America (as opposed the mainline Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) experienced an impressive 42.4 percent increase, while the Christian and Missionary Alliance rose 21.8 percent. Meanwhile, the Evangelical Free Church was up 57.2 percent, and Pentecostal denominations also boomed. The Assemblies of God, with 11,880 churches, saw 18.5 percent growth, while the Church of God, with 5,612 churches, saw growth of 40.2 percent.

What is behind this traditionalist rise and progressive decline? The New York Times, in its summary of the survey, noted, "Socially conservative churches that demand high commitment from their members grew faster than other religious denominations in the last decade…." Glenmary director Ken Sanchagrin told the paper he was “astounded to see that by and large the growing churches are those that we ordinarily call conservative. And when I looked at those that were declining, most were moderate or liberal churches. And the more liberal the denomination, by most people's definition, the more they were losing."

I'd love to read that story, but I think you have the wrong link here. Was the story also in the Post?
Link corrected.
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