Creative Religion on the Rise
According to a recent study, more and more Americans are designing their own religions, after having become increasingly dissatisfied with mainstream religions within the past several decades. More and more, people are shaping their religious beliefs to their personal needs.
The Washington Post reports:
If World War II-era warbler Kate Smith sang today, her anthem could be “Gods Bless America.”
That’s one of the key findings in newly released research that reveals America’s drift from clearly defined religious denominations to faiths cut to fit personal preferences.
The folks who make up God as they go are side by side with self-proclaimed believers who claim the Christian label but shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices. Religion statistics expert George Barna says, with a wry hint of exaggeration, America is headed for “310 million people with 310 million religions.”
“We are a designer society. We want everything customized to our personal needs — our clothing, our food, our education,” he said. Now it’s our religion.
Barna’s new book on U.S. Christians, “Futurecast,” tracks changes from 1991 to 2011, in annual national surveys of 1,000 to 1,600 U.S. adults. All the major trend lines of religious belief and behavior he measured ran downward — except two:
— More people claim they have accepted Jesus as their savior and expect to go to heaven.
— And more say they haven’t been to church in the past six months except for special occasions such as weddings or funerals. In 1991, 24 percent were “unchurched.” Today, it’s 37 percent.
Barna blames pastors for those oddly contradictory findings. Everyone hears, “Jesus is the answer. Embrace him. Say this little Sinner’s Prayer and keep coming back. It doesn’t work. People end up bored, burned out and empty,” he said. “They look at church and wonder, ‘Jesus died for this?’”
The consequence, Barna said, is that, for every subgroup of religion, race, gender, age and region of the country, the important markers of religious connection are fracturing.
What do you think—what does this trend suggest for how people are shifting and changing?