The Pew Forum was released on Monday (6/23/08) -the results of an extensive poll of 35,000 Americans concerning their religious views and practices. One of the largest studies ever conducted on Religion in America. Here’s a link to the complete Pew report and also a page with links to a dozen of articles responding to the survey.
This really is an important report that all of us in the ministry should take a good look at, it really is a report card on our efforts! Here’s an ‘Interactive Graphic’ from USA Today: See how other Americans’ religious beliefs and practices match with yours
There is some ‘good news’: 92% of Americans profess to believe in God or some kind of ‘higher power’. 80% believe in miracles, 66% in angels and demons, and 58% pray every day. 74% believe in Heaven and 59% believe that there is a Hell. America is still the most ‘religious’ country in the Western world.
Now for the ‘not so good’: A large segment of the population mistrusts organized religion and most of those committed and involved in a religion or church, do not consider it to be the only path to salvation or heaven. 70% believe that there are many different paths to God and Heaven including 58% of so-called evangelical Christians.
In an article in Tuesdays USA Today, Cathy Lynn Grossman quoted Rice University sociologist Michael Lindsay saying that TV’s Oprah has become more of a spiritual leader and a greater influence in America than any of the "religious" leaders. She presents many paths to God on her TV show:
"Rather than religious leaders setting the cultural agenda, today, it’s Oprah Winfrey, … The impact of Oprah is seen throughout this survey. She uses the language of Bible and Christian traditions and yet includes other traditions to create a hodgepodge personalized faith. Exclusivism (one religion has the absolute and exclusive truth) has gotten a bad name in America today."
The best response to the Pew Report that I found was from Cal Thomas: "Do They Think Jesus Was a Liar?" First Cal quotes Jesus:
Apparently they must think Jesus was a liar, or mistaken, when he said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.” Look it up.
Then he continues his short article with the following:
If there are many paths to heaven, Jesus suffered and died for nothing. He could have stayed in heaven, sent down a book of sayings and avoided crucifixion. Orthodox Christians have always believed – and their Bible teaches them — there is only one path to heaven and it is through Jesus Christ and him alone. One can believe whatever one wishes, but you can’t be considered a Christian without believing in this fundamental doctrine.
Then concludes with the following thought about how churches should respond to the survey:
Christian churches have a lot of work to do in addressing biblical illiteracy, ignorance and, yes, heresy, in their midst. They might want to pay more attention to fixing what’s gone wrong among their members before expending too much energy on politics and politicians.
Response: Ministers, pastors, and Christian Churches in America have a lot of work to do with their own people. Seeker sensitive services and ‘watered-down’ preaching has obviously not gotten the job done. This really is a failing report card for American preachers. We really do desperately need revival! *Top