New Harvard Research Says that conservative Christianity in the US is growing and growing stronger day by day; This piece published on The Federalist Website detaila a recent Harvard study that completely contradicts the nonsense we hear on a regular basis from Pew Research and secular liberal news outlets that assert that Christianity is dying in America. Far from it, we’re actually seeing a rise in conservative Christianity, as we’ve talked about in a number of other videos, and this latest research simply corroborates it. The research was conducted by Landon Schnabel of Indiana University Bloomington and Sean Bock of Harvard University, and was published in the Journal of Sociological Science under the title, “The Persistent and Exceptional Intensity of American Religion: A Response to Recent Research.”
Now the stated aim or conclusion of the research takes issue with the so-called ‘secularization thesis.’ The secularization thesis was popularized by sociologists such as Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, and they basically argued that the more modern a society becomes, the less religious it will be; there’s a one-to-one correlation between the level of education and technology characterizing a society and its religious commitment; the more educated and technological our societies get, the less religious they will be, and they related this particularly to Christianity; it was postulated by these proponents of secularization that a combination of younger generations and higher education would basically wipe out historic Christianity.
And this was the dominant paradigm in sociology for most of the twentieth-century. And we still hear it today; we still think of science and religion as having nothing to do with each other, or that the more educated a person is the less likely they are to be a religious fanatic, and so on. This is the secularization thesis.
And so what the researchers here from Harvard and the University of Indiana have done is they have compiled data on the state of American Christianity that thoroughly refutes the secularization thesis, at least when it comes to American Christianity, or better, a particular KIND of American Christianity, and that’s key to this research. What makes this study so interesting is that they use a metric that they call ‘level of intensity’ in one’s variegated religious commitments and practices, such as a literalist commitment to Scripture as the authoritative Word of God, their frequency of church attendance, and their propensity towards evangelism. What this means is that this study is able to make a distinction between what we would call conservative Christianity on the one hand and liberal Christianity on the other, and the findings here are very interesting.
What the study concluded was that the percentage of the American population who attend church one or more times a week, who pray daily, and who accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God has remained absolutely unchanged for the last 50 years. The percentage of Americans who consistently attend church, pray, and base their lives on Scripture as the infallible Word of God has remained constant for the past five decades. The percentage has not slipped in the least. And this, given of course that the population of the nation increased dramatically in the last 50 years; the percentage of conservative Christians has risen proportionate to the rise in the American population in general. This observation was corroborated earlier by the studies compiled by sociologist Rodney Stark, who noted that church attendance since 1980 has not declined in the least; it’s held steady for 40 years. Now, the primary implication of this is pretty easy to get; if church attendance has not decreased in the least, then where is this rising secularism we keep hearing about? If the percentage of Americans who attend church regularly and receive the Bible as the inspired Word of God has not changed in the least, then by definition neither has the percentage of the population that sees itself as secular. A lot of media outlets like to make a lot of hay about these rising ‘nones’, those who don not associate with any religion. But, again, this so-called rise has not affected church attendance in the least, and so whatever change has taken place, it hastaken place within an already non-church attending, so-called non-religious group; AND THIS GROUP HAS NOT GROWN IN THE LEAST. What we are finding is that pollsters simply invented a new term and more people that were already part of the non-church attending population find they associated better with that term, instead of the generic label ‘Christian.’ The fact is: secularists are not rising as a percentage of the population in the US. More Americans now belong to a local church than ever before.
Now the Harvard study goes on to point out that these percentages are hardly peripheral in American life: one in three Americans prays multiple times a day, and one-third of Americans hold that the Bible is the actual word of God. By contrast, these numbers are generally less than 10 percent in European countries, for example. And so, these scholars conclude that the United States “clearly stands out as exceptional” in its religious commitments, and this exceptionalism has not decreased in the least over the last several decades. They even suggest that the percentage may actually be increasing, which of course fits very well with our focus on this channel on the religious awakening going on throughout the world.
Now what is also so fascinating here is that this study examines how American religion is also being restructured around conservative and liberal lines. What they found was that the liberal mainline churches were quite literally hemorrhaging members. Take the ultra-liberal Presbyterian Church USA for example. The PCUSA has been imploding in terms of membership for years. They lost nearly a hundred thousand members in 2014. They are nearly half a million less from their numbers just three years ago, at about 2 million. And they are on track to lose another half a million by 2020. Or take the United Methodist Church; it has lost hundreds of thousands of members. In fact, their membership loss of late has been equated to them basically losing a 300-member local church congregation per day!!! That is how much this denomination is hemorrhaging membership. And the loss appears to be compound; the actual percentage of membership loss in the United Methodist Church is actually increasing, so while they might have seen a 1 percent drop in membership in 2013, they’re seeing a 2 percent drop in 2014. The rate of membership loss is actually accelerating.
Now by contrast, conservative evangelical churches are growing by leaps and bounds. Here is what is so interesting: conservative evangelicals are becoming a markedly larger proportion of all religious people in the US. In 1989, almost 40 percent of those who belonged to a religion held what these scholars called intense beliefs and practices. Today, it is nearly 50 percent of all the religiously affiliated. And as Glenn Stanton over at the Federalist noted, this increase in the percentage of conservative evangelicals among America’s religious population has important implications for politics. It means that the voting bloc of religious conservatives is not shrinking, but is actually growing stronger and stronger by the day, as it were. So much for the waning influence of the Religious Right that we keep hearing about.
So, the irony to all of this is that, wherever we see the church falling apart in both America and Europe, it’s the liberal leftwing church that is hemorrhaging members. Evangelical churches are flourishing on both continents, thus accounting for the steady church attendance numbers!
Now, this realignment of religion around conservative vs. liberal sensibilities was first recognized by Robert Wuthnow in his 1988 study entitled The Restructuring of American Religion. There Wuthnow argues that since World War II, American religiosity has been going through a re-alignment. While denominational and doctrinal issues were key identifying markers prior to World War II, Americans have been increasingly defining themselves as conservatives or liberals. Thus, a conservative Episcopalian will find that he has more in common with a conservative Catholic or even a conservative Mormon than he does with a fellow Episcopalian who happens to be a liberal progressive. So the important point here is that the world really is going through a mass realignment along liberal globalist vs. conservative traditionalist lines, which is what I am dedicated to analyzing; the massive blowback going on all over the world against globalization and its secular aristocracy. The boundary lines between these two fundamentally incompatible societies, the globalist vs. the nationalist, the corporatist vs. the populist, the secular vs. the traditional, are being redrawn everywhere we look, including within the realm of American religion. But the lines are not even; in terms of religious commitment in America, the secular liberal side is in fact shrinking, I would argue that it is in fact in many respects imploding, completely falling apart. And this of course, as we’ve talked about on a number of occasions, the modernist foundation upon which secular liberalism is founded has basically died in the hearts and minds of Western populations. People simply do not believe in a modern scientific-rationalist conception of truth and reality anymore; they are seeing truth and reality much more in nationalist, populist, and traditionalist terms.
So, all in all, this latest research further confirms and corroborates what I have been analyzing every week for the last year: liberalism is collapsing, and a new conservative age is indeed rising.