According to a priest who podcasts for Fox News, the decline in Americans who identify as Christians may be “good news.”
“There’s something about that is potentially hopeful,” Father Mike Schmitz told Fox News. “Because maybe for the first time in generations, we know where people are standing.”
According to a September Pew Research Center research, in 1990, 90% of U.S. individuals who had been reared as Christians still identified that way in their 30s, compared to just 65% in 2020. Similarly, in 2020, 31% of adults over 30 who were reared as Christians identified as having no religious affiliation, up from 8% in 1990.
We as a church can be honest and say, “Okay, I can speak to that,” if people are willing to be open about what they genuinely think. Schmitz spoken. The Bible in a Year, a podcast hosted by the Minnesota-based Roman Catholic priest, shot to fame in 2021 and continues to dominate Apple’s Religion & Spirituality ratings.
By 2045, according to Pew’s forecast, Christianity might be a minority religion. Even while young people nowadays are less likely to identify with any particular organized religion, Schmitz is optimistic that they still hold to religious beliefs.
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“I wonder if it isn’t people finally being honest,” Schmitz told Fox News. “It’s them finally saying, ‘my parents checked the box — I’m Lutheran, I’m Evangelical, I’m Catholic — but they didn’t do anything about it.'”
“They’re saying, ‘I believe in the same kind of God, but I’m not going to check the box,’” he continued.
Schmitz’s stance is based on personal knowledge. Schmitz disliked the church despite coming from a Catholic household until shortly after receiving his college degree when he unexpectedly fell gravely ill. After a priest agreed to hear his confessions, he experienced a spiritual awakening.
According to a June Gallup Survey, an all-time low of more than 81% of American adults still has faith in God despite the decline in Christian affiliation. In 2020, more than half of respondents claimed that religion can still solve most or all of the world’s issues.
Schmitz believes that a growing proportion of young people hold what is known as “moralistic therapeutic deism,” a collection of widely held spiritual convictions that include a belief in a kind of far-off God who desires that people be friendly and that virtuous people get to heaven. He worries that as the population becomes more secular, society will become less moral and, thus, less accessible.
“One of the big messages of Christianity, particularly for this incredible country of the United States of America, is that we’ve been blessed with freedom,” Schmitz said. “We have also been given the responsibility of freedom.”
He thinks that a less religious populace will result in more turmoil and urges for greater government engagement.
“The government can only do so much to keep its citizens morally upstanding,” Schmitz said.
“Religion is not meant to keep people in line; it’s meant to give them freedom,” he added. “But not freedom to do what I want, freedom to do what I ought.”
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