Want to hear a scary number? New research shows that there's been an 8% drop in people identifying as Christian over the past seven years. Meanwhile, the percentage of people who are atheist or agnostic has been rising. What is happening to people of faith in America? Glenn looked at the issue and found some disheartening answers - but there are solutions as well.
Below is a transcript of this segment:
According to a new Pew Research Center poll, the number of Christians in America has sharply declined in the last eight years from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% today. That’s an 8% drop in seven years—remarkable, right?
The survey is of 35,000 Americans, and it showed that the driving force behind the drop was due to millennials. During that same seven-year period, those who describe themselves as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular, went from 16.1% to 22.8%. This is an alarming thing for a nation that was built on the concept of God. And the easy explanation is to blame the world, you know, look at the world. I mean, you’re growing up as a millennial, how are you going to possibly say that you’re religious?
It’s no surprise people are saying, “Christian, I’m not Christian.” Why would you call yourself Christian? Those numbers continue to dwindle for good reason. You define yourself as a Christian, and you’re going to be defined by society as narrow-minded, hateful, judgmental. Believing marriage between a man and woman used to be ammunition or still is used as ammunition to say you hate gays. Saying prayer in school is akin to forcing nonbelievers to conform against their will. Teaching intelligent design is literally likened to child abuse now, mocked as anti-science.
Virginity is mocked. Being pro-life is being spun as a war on women, so growing up today as a millennial, that is damn near impossible. Who would intentionally put themselves in a crowd that society has deemed anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science? I mean, sign me up. It’s a harder sell to young people in a culture that bombards them with anti-Christian messaging, but I honestly don’t think that’s the problem. I think that’s part of the problem, but I don’t think that’s the real problem.
The bigger problem is the elephant in the room that I think most Christians don’t want to acknowledge. The biggest problem with the Christian church are all of the Christians. Like it or not, people on the outside are watching, and I know, I can guarantee you that there are people in my church that have a problem because of me. They don’t like me. I know I go to my church, and I don’t like some people in my church.
It seems to me that we’re a little hypocritical. I know I go to other churches, and they don’t like me because of my religion or whatever. We’re, I don’t know—let me put it this way, we’re all waiting for an excuse to not go to church. I mean, I don’t know about you, but on Sunday, anything, anything, please, oh, can we have a snowstorm where the roads are all blocked so we don’t have to go to church? And everything is an excuse not to go.
So, we have far too many excuses, and some of them are real. Our churches are rife with hypocrites, know-it-alls, holier-than-thous, and the judgmental. You can put me in that box far too many times. The reason for this is, as every believer knows, we’re all human beings. We’re all flawed. We’re all liars and cheats and thieves to some extent. We’re at church, at least I am, because it’s a hospital. It’s a spiritual hospital, and we don’t recognize it as that.
We right now look at church and say well church, those are all the good people. No, they’re not. They’re all the people saying help, I need help. But we all put on these Facebook airs that we’re all perfect, it and we don’t recognize that we need someone to rescue us from our condition, that we need grace. The problem is we’re all fallen, and we’ve all fallen short of extending that grace to others.
We bicker amongst denominations, which drives me out of my mind. I’m not trying to change you and your religion, whatever, whatever. Don’t you see the times? The times that we’re living in right now are requiring us for all good men to stand together. We’re so quick to condemn one another, and we are so slow to listen. There are so many good things that happen in so many good churches. All around the country, people are doing amazing things.
I talk to pastors and priests and rabbis all over the country, and I have so much admiration for some of the stuff they’re doing. And then I talk to others, and I’m like what are you doing? Well, we’re all meeting together on Sunday or we’re all coming together on Saturday. For what? What’s the purpose?
This last Sunday, I taught in my gospel doctrine class that I teach, and we were talking about John, I think it’s chapter 9. It’s where he heals the blind man. The apostles come, and they see this blind man. The apostles say to Jesus, “So, who made him blind? Is it his sin or did his parents sin?” Jesus says, you know, no, it’s not that at all. Basically, if I may take it in today’s language, he’s like what? What are you talking about? Of course it’s not that.
Here’s an idea, why don’t you stop looking at the man as a puzzle or a riddle and start looking at him as a man who might need your help? Because the day is only going to last so long, and while the sun is up, what do you say we do some work here? That’s the problem. We are looking at everything, and so many churches will look at—let’s just say gays, and they’ll look at gays—well, is that a sin? Is that this? Is that this? What difference does it make? That’s between them. What do you say we just look at them as people and we just try to help, we just try to love? Can we do that?
That’s where millennials are. They’re not into my church versus your church. I’m not into my church versus your church. I love my church. I love my church. Okay, you go to another church. I have good friends—I tell Pastor Hagee all the time—I shouldn’t say this. No, I definitely don’t tell Pastor Hagee all the time. I’m like Pastor Hagee, come on, come into the waters of baptism, and we joke. You’re a Mormon, come on. He’s like no, I’m not. No, I’m not. We agree on so much. There’s some big doctrine that is out there that we don’t agree on. He’s not a Mormon. I am. I’m not going to join his church. He’s not going to join mine. We’re joking with each other because we look at the fruit of his tree.
Is John Hagee doing good stuff? Yes, he is. Are we doing good stuff? Yes, we are. What do you say we both get together and just do good stuff, we help each other, we hold each other’s arms up? What do you say we do that and look at the fruit of the tree for everybody instead of the name of the church? Who cares what team they’re on? You do your thing, they’ll do their thing, and let’s do good together.
Let’s look at the fruit of the tree. Are we going to help out the Westboro Baptist Church? No, the fruit is bad. The fruit is bad. That’s how you know them. We have to focus on what’s important. No one’s testimony ever begins with, “You know what, I became a Christian because I lost an argument.” It always begins with an act of mercy and kindness. Somebody offered me undeserved forgiveness. Somebody sacrificed personal gain for me or I helped someone or they helped me, and I changed.
It comes from humility. It comes from admitting when you’re wrong. What do you say we just stop with I’m right, I’m right, I’m right, I’m right, and just be doers, not the hearers? Let’s just do.
I have somebody right now my office, she’s working on a Christmas story with me. She’s amazing. She’s amazing. We’re writing this book called The Immortal. I don’t know what is going to be called when it comes out, this book, but right now the working title is The Immortal. It’s all about Christ and Christmas and Santa and St. Nick.
We’re talking, and she’s like I am going to run out of time for this because I’ve got to go back to Africa. She’s adopted two African children, one who has to have surgery every single week. Oh my gosh, she’s got, I think, five kids. One of them has to have surgery every week, and she’s going back to volunteer at an orphanage in Africa where they’re going all the time. That’s who we want to be. That’s who millennials want to be, not somebody who just puts on a tie and sits in a church and listens to somebody lecture them.
They also are not coming to the churches just because it’s a good band. They want to do something, and don’t you? Because I do. If we want people to actually not go to church, change their lives, it begins with us. When our testimony is how we live and church is who we are, we win. We change the world. But we have to recognize our own imperfections, bury our pride, die ourselves, begin to walk in gratitude. Get your head on a swivel and constantly be on the lookout for somebody you can help, even if it’s small. Build relationships instead of walls. Build them for the kingdom, not for ourselves. Remember, it’s not about us, it’s about Him. It’s about them.
Always question your own motives because we’re all prone to forget why we’re here, and we’re here to glorify the Creator, not the creation. The way we do it is not by winning arguments. That’s all that we do now is try to win arguments. How about being hands and feet, doing the work He’s called us to do? You won’t have time to argue. Just do it.
I’m working on some things right now, and I want your help. It comes from me doing the lesson, because when a teacher prepares a lesson, I think the teacher always gets more out of it than the students do. I was preparing this lesson, and every Sunday I do it, I think to myself I should be talking about this on the air. I’m afraid. I’m afraid because I know there’s a lot of people in our audience that don’t like all of that stuff and everything else.
I can’t do that anymore. I can’t do that anymore. Look, everybody told me not to talk about the progressive era. That was when I was trying to figure out what the problem was. Now, I know what the problem is. You know what the problem is. Now we’re trying to find the way to fix it, and I know probably 50% of this audience says God’s not the answer. It is the answer. Fifty percent of the audience says love and courage and hope is not the answer. It is the answer. That being peaceful is not the answer; it is the answer.
To my dying day, it is the answer, and the problem is none of us, we don’t even know. We don’t know these stories. I don’t care if you look at the Bible as something that comes directly from the mouth of God and it’s all verbatim or it’s just a great storybook. Man, it is the best storybook. It used to be what was taught in our classrooms. That was our textbook. Up until about 150 years ago, maybe 100 years ago, that was the main textbook. No wonder we changed when we went to another textbook.
And you read that book, and it has everything in it. So, in the coming months, I’m going to do the absolute insane, and I don’t know if we do it for two months or two weeks or however long, I don’t know, but I’m going to start teaching, because I’ve been taking Torah lessons, and I’m going to teach a little from the Torah and then we’ll teach a little from the New Testament from Acts on.
So, what are you supposed to do? Because man, I read that, and I think every lesson we need is right there. The answers are right there. But it’s going to be tough, and I think it’s going to be fun. I want to have an audience in here. I want to teach it with an audience because I want a conversation. But I want people from all different denominations and people who are open-minded and are looking for what does this mean today? What does it mean today? What are we supposed to get out of it today? Because there are lessons to learn.
On top of that, we’re going to start looking for the people who are actually doers and highlight them, people who are changing their life. Tonight, that’s what this is about. I want to tell you about first Sister Diana, real quick update. She’s that amazing nun in Iraq who was fighting to save Christians. She was denied a visa to the US. I tell you, she was on with me, what was it, last week or the week before. I could barely concentrate on what she was saying because I felt so guilty that she was sitting in a shipping container working to save lives, and all I was doing was sitting here on the set talking about it. Listen.
Glenn: We know that God won’t hold us blameless, but we feel ill-equipped. Every day, I come into this show, and I do this show. I mean, honestly, I’m watching you in a monitor, and I see the camera take the angle from our jib operator where I’m sitting in this nice chair in this air-conditioned studio, and I’m talking to you. I’m thinking to myself—honestly, part of your comments, I wasn’t even listening to you because I’m thinking to myself, “What the hell are you doing? You should be out helping,” but I don’t know how to help, and I think that most of our audience feels the same way. We know what’s going on, Sister. We just don’t know what to do.
I don’t know if you feel that way, but I’m tired of feeling that way. So, what did you do about it? I’m thrilled to tell you because you saw this, you heard about this, you got on the phone, and you are a big reason why Sister Diana’s visa was just approved. She’s going to be speaking on the Hill tomorrow to share what’s happening with the war on the religious minorities in Iraq. We will give you more about that on tomorrow’s [program]. Much of this is because of you calling Congress, taking action, pressuring them to allow her in.
This summer, I’m starting a tour, and we want to go to churches. I don’t know where and I don’t know how many yet, but I want you to do a couple of things. First, if you’re coming to Dallas anytime in the next six months, we tape mainly on Thursdays with a live audience, but that may change. We may open it up for a few days a week, but if you want tickets to the show, I want you to write to tickets@TheBlaze.com.
If you have any thoughts, I mean, we were talking today about doing a kind of Root special where we get the best minds and we actually make like a documentary series of maybe ten episodes of Revelation for today—Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Revelation. What are the things we should be paying attention to today? What’s there that we should know today?
That’s what this summer is about for us, connecting with one another and trying to put some things together so we can come out of the gate roaring in September. But most importantly, we want to encourage you and inspire action, and we’re going to be announcing some things the summer that we’re going to do this summer that I’m really excited about, because we have to start exercising our faith for good and exercising it together, because faith without works is dead. Let’s work together.