This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← The Great Evangelical Decline

The Great Evangelical Decline - Comments

HitbLade's Avatar Comment 1 by HitbLade

"And God - or our understanding of what God is, which is all we actually have - changes, too."

Decline. this is good.
[EDIT] Wohooo! first post again!

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 10:20:00 UTC | #179192

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 2 by mordacious1

Oh, don't worry. These guys leave one cult, join another. They never seem to get it.

This lady is obvious a christian who is bemoaning the decline of the the evanges.

I just hope some of these people come over to the dark side.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 10:32:00 UTC | #179201

Tetsujin's Avatar Comment 3 by Tetsujin

"Every year, their core values are violated more flagrantly by the media, scientific discovery and mainstream behavior."

That line just made me giggle, and I'm not the giggling type.

Perhaps the author should have used the word "challenged" or another word that didn't imply that somehow scientific discoveries are made in order to violate someone's core values.

"Hey Jim, the test results came back. It turns out you're not a socialist."

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 10:35:00 UTC | #179204

rebelest's Avatar Comment 4 by rebelest

Fantastic! It's great to have some good news in the war against religionism.

It would be nice to see more articles like this done from a secular perspective-scientific studies of church attendance, how the churches use their resources etc.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 10:55:00 UTC | #179217

JLD Calgary's Avatar Comment 5 by JLD Calgary

[quote] Evangelical leaders defend their stance by claiming that God doesn't change and that neither does sin. But sin does change. Slavery wasn't sin once. Now it is. Taking a wife and a concubine wasn't sin once. Now it is.

And God - or our understanding of what God is, which is all we actually have - changes, too. Human understandings are remolded so that faith can remain vital and effective during new times. [/quote]

With a line like this… you still don't think god was a human concept and that people are desperately altering to try and fit with their fairy tale, happy ending fantasies? Seriously?

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:02:00 UTC | #179226

FightingFalcon's Avatar Comment 6 by FightingFalcon

Like I've been trying to say, the growth in evangelicalism in America over the past 8 years is an exception to the rule. It's an anomaly that can be largely explained by the fact that Christian evangelicals have patronage in the government in the form of the radical wing of the Republican party (shocking I know but not all Republicans are Christian evangelicals). If you don't believe that a small group can have a tremendous influence in the government, just look at what the Jewish Israeli lobby has been able to accomplish...

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:03:00 UTC | #179227

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 7 by Dr. Strangegod

"What all this means is that we were duped."

I don't know if I've said it here, but I've been trying to argue this basic point for a couple of years now. The success of the Bush administration and vocalness of the Evangelicals has created an overblown perception of their power and influence. I have definitely said it here recently that all our worrying and whining about creationism is similarly overblown. The reality is that we have three key advantages: there are more of us, we are smarter than they are (not inherently, but in terms of education and knowledge base), and, fortunately, we're right. They really don't stand a chance. That's not to say we should become lax in our defense of evolutionary science or the principles of western enlightenment, but we do often seem a little overly reactionary and paranoid. Don't worry. We're winning these arguments, despite the loudness of some of our opponents. Consider this phenomenon more like the bleat of a dying sheep than a call to arms; they are desperate, because they understand that they're losing even better than we do.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:16:00 UTC | #179239

tacitus's Avatar Comment 8 by tacitus

I'm amazed the article doesn't cover the main reason for the religious right's decline -- their members are dying off and their numbers are not being replenished by an influx of young people.

Surveys had repeatedly shown that, in general, once a generation reaches its twenties, they don't change their religious beliefs that much (yeah some will, but the overall numbers are remarkably steady over a generation's lifespan.

Simply put, not as many young people are buying into what the SBC and other fundamentalists are selling these days. The number of non-religious young people has risen from about 4% of their generation 40 years ago to anywhere between 15% and 20% today. No doubt the number of fundamentalists amongst the remaining believers is in decline too as America (finally) heads towards being a much more secular society.

There is still a long way to go, and the fundies will not give up without a fight, but abortion, gays and Hell simply do not scare up as many converts as they used to.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:27:00 UTC | #179247

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 9 by mordacious1

Here in CA, I think religion may be on the rise. A lot of people are having fewer kids, because of economics, or whatever. But we have a large influx of catholics coming in from Mexico, that not only bring their archaic faith with them, but tend to have several more kids than average. The only people I know that have more than 3 kids are very religious, this includes catholics, muslims, and mormons.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:37:00 UTC | #179253

FightingFalcon's Avatar Comment 10 by FightingFalcon

Lucas said it perfectly - thank you.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:49:00 UTC | #179256

Bruno's Avatar Comment 11 by Bruno

I agree with Lucas.

Reality will always eventually assert itself.

But of course that doesn't mean that we shouldn't fight the creationists every step of the way.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 12:19:00 UTC | #179265

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 12 by scottishgeologist

Interesting article - the decline in evangelicalism mentioned actually ties in with a video that is available on YouTube of Mark Driscoll talking about church planting:

Near the start of the video he comes out with a lot of interesting stats:

Driscolls stats:

1) Upto 80% of "church plants" fail
2) 80 % of all churches in America are plateau'd and declinig
3) Half of the people who claim to go to church actually DO go,
4) The average church is 40 to 50 people
5) 3500 churches dying every year
6) If trends continue, by 2050, there will only be half the number of Christians in America that there are at present

This all ties in with the article above


Wed, 04 Jun 2008 12:52:00 UTC | #179281

Tezcatlipoca's Avatar Comment 13 by Tezcatlipoca

I got this vibe in Tampa about my sister's church. (She counts de money...demonay, demonay!) When they have 60 people it's remarkable.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 12:55:00 UTC | #179284

Logicel's Avatar Comment 14 by Logicel

If it is pleasing to him, God may send a great revival that will sweep the country and restore them to their place of predominance.


How does he do this? Via his mobile from his perch in the clouds? Does he invade bodies so people will do his bidding? WTF are these people saying? Absolutely and utterly bizarre.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #179287

Barbara's Avatar Comment 15 by Barbara

As the true picture of evangelicals' problems has developed, panicked leaders are splitting into camps. Some say that the church is lax, soft, sold out. That what's needed is an even bigger dose of the medicine that the SBC fundamentalist takeover delivered. More authority, more strict interpretations of the Bible, more sermons about sin and suffering and sacrifice, more rigor about who is and who isn't getting to go to heaven.

(bolding mine)

An injured animal is chased down and finally cornered. The animal is afraid and tries to save itself with the last option it has. It bears it's teeth, growls loudly, and puffs itself up to appear more menacing. What it doesn't realize is that the people surrounding it only want to treat its' wounds and release it, safe and healthy, back into the world.

The animal is religion. Guess who the people are.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:00:00 UTC | #179289

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 17 by Barry Pearson

Christine Wicker has written a book: "The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church."

It is worth reading the reviews of it at They reveal some more information behind what she is saying:

One of the reviews says:

I think she left out one interesting aspect of the problem of the church. Education. The evangelical church of today now prides itself that its leaders are not overly educated. They have a life of experience that has prepared them to pastor not a seminary education. While the workforce is getting more specialized and more educated, the local church is not lifting up education as essential to be on staff.
In fact, a lack of education is more helpful in growing a church at times.

Continuing as we face a flat world more educated world... Evangelical Christianity will lack the ability to communicate with it. All of those students who learn creationism will now have to compete in classrooms with folks who learned evolution. The test is on evolution not creationism.

I think the impact of evangelicals on education is also an element that is part of the disconnect with the world that people in the evangelical world feel and is leading to the decline.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:06:00 UTC | #179294

eh-theist's Avatar Comment 16 by eh-theist

Oddly enough, I just (yesterday) received an appeal from "Catholic Answers Forums" to support the site (so it isn't just evangelicals).

They told me "We're praying that you'll pledge your support of just $15/month--or more if you can--so that we can meet this shortfall. In exchange, you'll receive 2 FREE gifts that will aid your spiritual journey."

I think the two free gifts are salvation and 3 extra virgins in heaven.

Is it wrong for me to ruin someone else's prayers? (I mean, had I better sign-up for the $15/month for salvation plan so they don't lose their faith?)

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:06:00 UTC | #179293

squinky's Avatar Comment 18 by squinky

Lucas: good point but atheists (perhaps not very recently) are also in decline worldwide. I'm a believer in memetics over genetics. People are born into religion but can change their opinions in less than a generation. Conversion to evolution over creation is generally one-directional (except for the occasional whacko like Francis Collins).

We ARE right and I hope the correct scientific answer begins to sweep America and that religious influence starts to seriously subside. We have catalysts like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris that reignited the fuse. Religious scandals definitely erodes their 'moral high ground' and makes a strong case for humanists.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:11:00 UTC | #179296

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 19 by mordacious1


"...god may send a great revival to sweep the country..." soon as he's short of cash.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:19:00 UTC | #179302

padster1976's Avatar Comment 20 by padster1976

So how does this account for the prominent profile of the creationism et al?

Or is this the part of what A C Grayling described as the death throes of religion?

I always find this type of report as incongruous to what I perceive as a resurgent level of religiosity.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:26:00 UTC | #179303

FightingFalcon's Avatar Comment 21 by FightingFalcon

6) If trends continue, by 2050, there will only be half the number of Christians in America that there are at present

What concerns me the most is what will be there to replace it (Christianity). New Age garbage? Islam? Buddhism?

Or will Atheists committed to a society of tolerance, respect, the US Constitution and most of all the freedom of individuals to be secure in their personal privacy be there to greet the new America?

That's all I care about. Replacing one superstitious belief (Christianity) with another (New Age self-help bullshit) is not progress in my book.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:27:00 UTC | #179304

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 22 by Quetzalcoatl


the prominence of creationism could be a combination of things: they see that things are declining, and want to make them appear otherwise. Or it might be because there is now more resistance to creationism than before, which gives it a greater profile by default.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:33:00 UTC | #179306

Gregg Townsend's Avatar Comment 23 by Gregg Townsend

22. Comment #188786 by Quetzalcoatl

they see that things are declining, and want to make them appear otherwise.
This reminds me of Mormon leadership's tactics. They claim 12 million (or more) members worldwide, but they count every person who's ever been baptised and are still alive. Rumor has it that the active membership is much lower.

False bragging rights.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:42:00 UTC | #179308

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 25 by Border Collie

The decline is not apparent in Fort Worth where Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is; however, I'm sure there is at least a little wailing and gnashing of teeth over this ...

I've been telling the fundies for 28 years that the conservative politicians didn't give a damn about them ... they only wanted their votes and money ... but, spitting into the wind pretty much described the effectiveness of such ...

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:43:00 UTC | #179311

Mike O'Risal's Avatar Comment 24 by Mike O'Risal

Christianity may be declining, but faith in the Ghost of Norman Fell is now the fastest-growing religion in the world. Two weeks ago, I was the only believer. Yesterday, another person expressed their belief. That's 100% growth in Fellationism in just one week! Islam's got nothing on us.

Roper be praised!

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:43:00 UTC | #179310

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 26 by phil rimmer


This lady is obvious a christian who is bemoaning the decline of the the evanges.
I just hope some of these people come over to the dark side.

From her own website she says-
He wanted me to come to one of his conferences and be interviewed about why I was no longer a Christian.

I'm not sure I want to do anything that will cause there to be more Christians.

However she is also inclined to throw in
Who are you to say that Jesus and I have parted ways?

Though it seems she "never can say goodbye", that doesn't put her a million miles from the Hitch and "I'd miss religion if it were to go completely."

Because she HAS come over to the Dark Side, I'll allow her a couple of flashbacks.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:53:00 UTC | #179317

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 27 by phil rimmer


Or it might be because there is now more resistance to creationism than before, which gives it a greater profile by default.

Indeed, its when firing your blasters that you get to see those "Monsters from the Id".

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 14:15:00 UTC | #179322

Christine Wicker's Avatar Comment 28 by Christine Wicker

These posts are some of the funniest and some of the most cynical I've read anywhere. Add a little profanity and you guys would sound like journalists.

I'm the author (and a journalist). The Dark Side?

Thanks for your interest. I'm getting in this too late to comment on all I'd like to.

A couple of points. The newspaper piece could only deal with a few of the findings in the book. Demographics, giving patterns, dangers facing the megachurches, even changes in child-rearing practices are hurting evangelical faith. But nothing is more damaging to it than the move from authority-based truths to the testable truths that science has caused us to embrace.

One of the more brilliant observations in the book
isn't from me it's from an emergent church guy named Spencer Burke, who says that the Internet is having a huge effect on authority because no one knows who is blogging. Just a screen name. No titles (except in this post, sorry) Just the quality of ideas.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 14:16:00 UTC | #179323

Gregg Townsend's Avatar Comment 29 by Gregg Townsend

28. Comment #188803 by Christine Wicker

Welcome to Thanks for the article.

-- Gregg

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 14:20:00 UTC | #179324

randumbness47's Avatar Comment 30 by randumbness47

"Half of the SBC's 43,000 churches will have shut their doors by 2030 if current trends continue."

Wow, what an amazing scientific discovery! The half life of churches is 22 years!

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 14:55:00 UTC | #179331