Committed Christians Are Now a Minority and Kids Need to Know It

by Natasha Crain

I grew up in a smallish town in Arizona (about 25,000 people at the time). Almost everyone I knew fit into one of four buckets: 1) committed Christians, 2) nominal Christians, 3) those who didn’t call themselves Christians but accepted “Judeo-Christian” values, and 4) Mormons.

In my view of the world at the time, believing in God—and being a Christian specifically—was the default for most people. There were certainly a few kids who fell into other buckets (atheist or New Age), but they were the exception; there was something different about them.

My beliefs were “normal.”

Oh, how things have changed.

According to Pew Forum research on the religious landscape of America, Christians statistically are still the majority. But those statistics are highly misleading because religious categorization is based on self-identification, and the “Christian” category includes a wide range of beliefs and commitment levels.

The Pew Forum, however, just released an eye-opening new method of categorizing America’s religious beliefs, and it reveals a more realistic picture:

  • Less than 40% of Americans are “highly religious” (seriously committed to their faith; this includes non-Christian religions such as Judaism and Islam).
  • About a quarter of the “highly religious” are what researchers call “diversely devout,” meaning they mostly believe in the God of the Bible but hold all kinds of views inconsistent with Christianity, such as reincarnation.

From the publicly available data, I don’t see a way to break down the remaining 30% of highly religious people into those who hold beliefs consistent with historic Christianity, so for our current purpose, we’ll just have to say that committed Christians represent some portion of that 30%.

In other words, a minority.

I’ve noticed lately that my subconscious assumption that this has become the case has had a number of implications for how I talk with my kids. For example, some phrases that have regularly worked their way into our daily conversations are “the world tells us,” or “the world would like us to think,” or “the way the world is.” In other words, I find myself constantly placing an emphasis on making sure my kids know that what they are learning to be true about reality is literally opposite of what the world around them—the majority—believes.

This is so different than how I—and many of you—grew up…

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Committed Christians Are Now a Minority and Kids Need to Know It