This week Pew Research Center created quite a stir by releasing the findings of a study it conducted earlier this year. Among other things, researchers found Americans increasingly identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”
The study asked participants two key questions: “Do you think of yourself as a religious person, or not?” and “Do you think of yourself as a spiritual person, or not?”
Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed indicated they are spiritual but not religious — which is up from 19% in 2012.
What is striking about the results is that a large number of these people still identify with a religion or denomination. A full 35% of those who claim to be spiritual but not religious also identify as Protestant, and 17% attend services at least weekly.
So what is behind these numbers?
Most seem to agree that Americans probably are withdrawing from religion, but still hold views shaped by religion. For example, they might still believe in God, but don’t attend church any more.
Another possibility to keep in mind, however, is that many people — particularly Evangelical Christians — have a negative view of the word “religion.”
For some, the word “religion” conjures up images of meaningless rituals. For them, going to church is not a religious activity; it’s a deeply personal, spiritual one.
That may be part of the reason why so many people who attend services weekly (or more) would still identify themselves as non-religious.
And let’s not forget that although the number is declining, nearly half of those surveyed still identified themselves as both spiritual and religious. As we wrote a few years ago, weekly church attendance today is roughly on par with where it was in the 1940s.
The numbers may not be encouraging, but they certainly aren’t the death knell of Christianity, either.
On Wednesday the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission held a public hearing about construction of a monument of the Ten Commandments.
The legislature authorized the monument in 2015. The monument is based on one that has been upheld as constitutional elsewhere. It would be placed on the grounds of the Arkansas Capitol Building to list the Ten Commandments and commemorate their influence on western law.
Unfortunately the monument has drawn criticism from some. That’s why Family Council sent a representative to the hearing and submitted a statement to the Secretary of State’s office in support of the monument, saying,
Family Council supports the construction and placement of the monument of the Ten Commandments on the Arkansas Capitol Grounds. The Ten Commandments have left an indelible mark on western law. They represent one of the earliest examples of the rule of law–a cornerstone of our democratic republic. The principles embodied in them have served as a foundation for civil laws for centuries. No other moral or civil code has been held in higher esteem by Americans. Commemorating the Ten Commandments and acknowledging their importance are entirely appropriate for the State of Arkansas.
As our country marks Columbus Day, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview has re-released a 2003 commentary from the late Chuck Colson about Christopher Columbus, the rise of science in Europe, and the role Christianity played in scientific discovery.
Science only happened in areas whose worldview was shaped by Christianity, that is, Europe. Many civilizations had alchemy; only Europe developed chemistry. Likewise, astrology was practiced everywhere, but only in Europe did it become astronomy.
That’s because Christianity depicted God as a “rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being” who created a universe with a “rational, lawful, stable” structure. These beliefs uniquely led to “faith in the possibility of science.”
You can listen to Chuck Colson’s entire commentary below or read it here.