America’s history is one of faith and perseverance. In fact, the first European settlers in the region created a society to reflect biblical values. Therefore, the Christian heritage America has enjoyed since its inception until today has set it apart somewhat from other nations. That commitment to faith, though, might be on its way out according to recent information.
Philip Jenkins, co-director of Baylor’s Program on Historical Studies of Religion at Baylor University, has a timely warning. According to a recently posted blog, he said that America is now “looking at the opening stages of a large scale process of secularization.” He went on to add, “The United States just passed a critical statistical landmark, one that I think—I fear—has immense implications for the nation’s religious life.”
According to Professor Jenkins, America’s current fertility rates, believe it or not, is the factor he is using to gauge the nation’s current commitment to faith. The professor explains that fertility rates are often an “effective gauge of trends towards secularization.” He also explains that nations with the highest fertility rates seem to also be those most “fervent and devout” when it comes to faith.
Jenkins was initially hopeful the drop in American fertility rates was temporary. He soon learned otherwise.
“At first, I suggested this was a statistical blip, but it has never since returned above 2.0, and last month, the 2016 rate was announced: just 1.74, a very European rate,” he said.
The fertility rates in American have been strong for decades, but took at alarming downward slide in 2010 and have remained below 2.0 according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This indicates a more European outlook on family and fertility is in play.
The fertility issue is of course not the only problem that America is dealing with. According to Jenkins, “The U.S. is not essentially different from Europe, in religion or anything else. It is following the same path, albeit with a delay of some decades. The U.S. is a laggard, not an exception.”
Various polls and surveys have been carried out in America indicating that Generation Z, some of the youngest Americans, are also the most non-Christian in American history. A Barna Group report released in January revealed that 35% of teens identify themselves as agnostic, atheist or are not affiliated with any faith. In addition, almost twice as many people in Generation Z claim to be atheist when compared to Millennials. This shows a trend away from faith and towards secularization.
Brooke Hempell, who is senior vice president of research for Barna, said the following about what the findings indicate:
“There are a lot of churches that are empty in this country. Gen Z is the one who is really showing the fruit of that. There are many of them who are a spiritual blank slate. For the first time in our nation’s history, that is more and more common.”
The research showing the fertility rates, and indicating a move away from faith in younger generations prove there is currently a shift away from faith and toward secularization occurring in America. This means passing down traditional faith inspired values will become harder and harder as the culture abandons those principles. Christians will be forced to fight an uphill battle to keep faith a key part of their families lives. In other words, living a life committed to faith will only get harder as America moves even more towards secular ideals.
~ 1776 Christian