Argumentative Essay: Why Fewer Christians?

You may know this. Nan posted about it. The trend is for fewer people to raise their hand when I ask, how many of you are Christians? It’s been going that way for years.

Twelve years ago, I would have reluctantly raised my hand. I preferred to say I was Irish-Catholic rather than Christian, even though there is no such thing. Officially, it’s Roman Catholic, but I am not even a little bit Italian, so says my ancestry spittle.

PEW Research keeps up with this stuff. They take polls and ask, what are you? For more than ten years, fewer people have been saying they are Christians. If that trend continues, folks claiming to be Christian will soon be the overall minority.

That has already happened with the younger crowd. PEW claims no rapid rise in the number of atheists in the USA, although we are growing too, albeit slowly. PEW says it’s now 4% of all, up from 2%. If every atheist was willing to come out, it would be more.

It’s the nones who are kicking ass. In the real world, if you say I’m an atheist, things can go badly for you lickety-split. However, being wishy-washy is a good way to cover your butt. Yet, folks are crossing a line by saying, nope, not a Christian. PEW does not tell us why this is happening.

So, why is it that fewer people claim to be Christians? Are they decamping for reasons, or just getting lazy? Most are not queuing up for atheism. These are mostly nones disowning the label of Christian.

For example, years back I had a bit of an email tiff with a guy from church. I considered him a jerk, but that’s not the point. He wrote, “I do not see how a practicing Catholic can support…” (abortion, I think). He was calling me out for being a liberal Democrat Catholic. I told him that I no longer considered myself Catholic, practicing or otherwise.

I did not say I was agnostic, atheist, or Methodist. It was the first time in my life that I disowned the religion of my birth (which is why I can relate to the struggles of people like Anne Rice). I was thinking and embracing none-hood. I was trying to figure it all out, which is what I think many nones are also doing. They’re searching for answers.

A former Christian (Jew or Muslim) did not wake up on some random sabbath and decide they will no longer be that religion. It’s a process; often a long, difficult, and reluctant one.

So why the Christian exodus to being a none? I would like to propose nine reasons for why it has been happening, and one reason why some stay.

Politics (sort of). Anne Rice went from being raised Catholic, to agnostic, back to Catholic, then bailed to a “faith in God,” then to not Christian (a none), then to secular humanist. Some call what she cites for her reasons as social issues, but I see it as the cognitive dissonance suffered by many progressive believers.

Many Christian writers, pastors, and even the Catholic Church point to the right-wing politics of evangelical Christians, conservative Catholics, and other extremely politically conservative religious folk as the reason many Christians are taking a hike.

Freedom from Religion. Let’s say you’re opposed to abortion but support a woman’s right to choose. Let’s say you are politically progressive, liberal, but believe in both God and Climate Change. Let’s say you do not take biblical scripture literally, you are opposed to capital punishment, and you care about the environment.

Religion, especially when it is authoritarian, is burdensome. Sometimes, it limits what many see as their freedom (freedom of thought). I’ve been told, “You don’t have to go to church to be a good Christian.” I get that, but you also don’t have to say you are of any religion to follow the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Mohamed, or Wicca. Freedom from religion is a different kind of freedom of religion, and in my opinion it’s more freeing.

Christian examples. Let’s name some names. While I doubt if many people leave Christianity because of the likes of Falwell, Robertson, or Peter Popoff and his miracle water; or due to the many, MANY scandals, those things people probably do not entice Christian encampment.

Morality of the heart. While this relates back to politics; blocking human rights, equal rights, women’s rights; demeaning the value of science and medicine and environmental protections; combined with the myriad of phobias purported within modern religions of all flavors are seen as immoral, and thus are seen as incongruent with being a good moral human being.

The no true Scotsman fallacy, or we shall bully or cajole you into it. Leverage is being used when people are told that they are not a “true” Christian (or Catholic). If they do not believe or practice as directed, the pressure to cooperate may help drive folks away. While this is far from unique to the Christian religion, it is divisive. I think few people would abandon church because of this, but they certainly will change churches or parishes. It is another reason to step back.

To be fair, this is a pain in the ass for any group, even atheists. Many of us deplore the insulting, overaggressive, know-it-alls who seem to think that behaving like an ass will result in folks seeing the truth.

The rise of doubt. The interesting thing about doubt (in religion of gods) is that it can be free of emotion or bogged down by it. Most believers seem to have minor, early reservations. Later, with more advanced uncertainties, folks may verbalize their concerns. These doubts often lead to action. They may read things like the Bible or spiritual writings; they may listen a little closer. They begin to realize things. These middle doubts have no time limit. Some people may doubt no further.

As doubt and questioning grows, ignorance diminishes. As more skeptics have come forward and the social acceptability of having no religion has grown, more people are willing to tell the truth about it all.

Technology. It’s easy to get data, it’s hard to make sense of it. For example, in my county I’ve read that 60% are nones. Most believers here are Evangelical Protestant, which is something of a denominational, holy-roller hodge-podge. The second largest Christian denomination is Catholic. One source said 40% are religious, thus, 60% are not. That is a lot of nones.

However, the data is there. I like PEW Research as a source. In minutes I have more information than I’ve ever wanted concerning religious demographics. That is my point. Technology allows us all access to tons of information, some true, much of it is not. But it’s all there. The information technology boom probably contributes to knowledge and to people making decisions. In combination with other things, it easily sends anti-religion torpedoes below the religious water lines.

Outspoken nones. Like it or not, we are affected by what other people say, do, and think. Anti-religion and anti-theist sentiment is everywhere—even between denominations. As people become more outspoken about their lack of religious participation, not naming a religion, or withholding any answer; others on the fence will often come down outside of religion. Why not? It’s important to remember that people get tired of the nonsense long before they decide to walk away.

What they miss most is the social aspects of church. While this is not exactly a reason for people to leave, it may be the only reason to stay. They call it fellowship. It is a bonding, it is nice (usually), people enjoy it (their tribe), and when they bail out it is what they usually miss most (I did not). This tells me that often, religious participation is based on issues other than the purported tenants of a religion. Religion often survives because going to church is a social club.

It keeps getting easier to just say no. People do get very involved with their church. Some also with the idea of Christianity, at least as they understand it. For many, it is a heaven or hell thing, but for others that is far from the point of their religion. I don’t know if many of them are among the nones of the past ten years.

What I do know is that social and economic pressures to go to church, to say one is this religion or that, to even be a culturally religious person is reducing each year. If someone wants religion, church, or Christianity (of some flavor), it will always be there for them. But if they would prefer either “no preference” or “none” embossed on their dog tags, it’s easy enough to do.

Obviously, many of the people leaving church and religion are skeptics or closeted atheists. But I’m inclined to think they are mostly just tired of the bull shit.


66 thoughts on “Argumentative Essay: Why Fewer Christians?

  1. PEW words their questions badly. As a pagan, I’ve reviewed some of their surveys, but there’s no good answer for me. PEW doesn’t seem to understand that one can pray daily and not be a monotheist. PEW doesn’t “get” that one doesn’t have to attend “church” weekly to be “religious.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Bill, I am a new reader of your blog. I loved your post and I especially loved all the comments. I am a devout Catholic. I was born Catholic but left the Church and was a none for 28 years.

    What took me away from the Church was that nobody could answer my questions. The media back then, 50 years ago is like it is today: it pushed a lot of nonsense with regard to culture and religion. For example, back in the day, their existed popular notions that Jesus was married and that India was the seat of spirituality. Being young and dumb I believed the media. I thought it was my duty as a good citizen to be informed so I read newspapers everyday.

    And I think that is the problem atheists (at least the ones commenting and posting here) have too. You folks have absorbed too much media static and have accepted it as the truth.

    The Christian religion isn’t the Bible which is a collection of carbon and ink. People who claim sola scriptura (scripture only) are like someone who reads a book about world travel and hallucinates that they know everything about world travel because they’ve traveled around the world, which they have not. Yet the book on world travel is helpful and informative. The world traveler is wise to take the travel book with him and read it everyday.

    Christianity can best be viewed through the twin lenses of virtue (moral excellence) and charism. Virtue is the art of living through the cardinal and divine virtues (prudence, temperance, justice, courage, faith, hope, charity).

    Charisms are the superpowers bestowed on each human being by the Holy Spirit upon Baptism. Saint Paul lists and describes a few of the charisms in his letters to the Corinthians. Charisms cannot be used for personal gain. They can only be given away. For example, I possess the charisms of knowledge, teaching, encouragement, helps, intercessory prayer, celibacy, and extraordinary faith. Others include pastoring, prophecy, hospitality, mercy and evangelism, music, writing and craftmanship.

    Being an instrument of the Holy Spirit through charisms is a truly sublime way of life. In fact, this is the essence of Christian life and why Christianity went from a backwater Palestinian cult to the religion that founded Western Civilization, ushered in modern science and the modern world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that you are happy being you.
      I am also happy being me.
      What you seem to have left off your “charisms” list is right wing propogandist. I never thought of celibacy as a talent nor a charism. Oh well. Silly me.:-)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bill, From the feel of things on your blog, I suspect that you are a virtuous man. Aristotle taught that virtuous living led to a happy, fulfilled life.

        But Jesus brought more to the table for human flourishing. He brought the divine, something Plato suspected but Aristotle never wrote about. What drove me to the divine was an understanding of death. Death makes everything we do worthless. Revisiting the Bible, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher covers this topic thoroughly. Additionally, now that I am old, I understand that everyone gets burned down by time. Biblical wisdom in fact, is reality.

        Charisms are a direct, daily, 24/7, experience of the divine. I can tell you from experience that celibacy is a charism. It provides a freedom and joy that married people cannot imagine. For introverts like me, the downside of celibacy is the loneliness. So I must make special effort to be involved socially with others. But I teach mathematics at a Catholic high school so I enjoy my charism of teaching which works in unison with my other charisms to provide a unique offering of divine goodness to the people around me.


      2. The Bible is a book of religion. Period! It is mostly myth, fiction, and fantasy.
        The Catholic Church has been the poster child for misery, corruption, and abuse for thousands of years. I am convinced there is no god. I seriously doubt if there was a Jesus, historical or otherwise.
        The things you have said are clichéd nonsense. As a former Christian and Roman Catholic, I am disgusted by the hypocrisy of right-wing political people masquerading as followers of JC. I find that anything but virtuous.
        Your proselytization is misdirected when aimed at me. I suggest you point it elsewhere, or better yet, stop.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Bill, Atheists use personal opinions as their religious dogma. Personal opinions may or may not be true. So the dogma derived from the person opinions may or may not be true. As with any literature, the Bible conveys true wisdom and moral values in its stories. Those who comprehend the wisdom prosper head to toe and through and through. Those who don’t remain ignorant. That is all there is to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Atheists have no “religious dogma.” That’s a specialty of believers.

        Yes, there is “true wisdom” in the bible, but as for moral values? Methinks you haven’t read the entire bible!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Bitter? Hateful? Obviously you have a very sensitive psyche!!! You call yourself “silence of mind” and all Bill did was express a wish that your mind was a bit more “silent.” If you consider it an insult, that’s on YOU, not Bill.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Nan, Why the insults? Why are you atheists so incapable of having a civil conversation?

        I can prove the existence of God. No atheist can prove atheism. Now why is that? I answered that question. So far you people have demonstrated that you cannot answer that question with anything other than insults.

        And therein lies the problem with atheism.


      7. Bill, You are being abusive. The one who is abused (me) gets to make that judgement. You made fun of my moniker in an attempt to shame me. This is your blog so you get to do what you want.

        You people have proven in this very conversation that instead of making rational arguments in favor of your case, you resort to rank insults.

        That is a crying shame because it means dialog is impossible with you people and that your blogs are just echo chambers.

        Farewell, and be well.


      8. Nan, Since atheism cannot be proved it is a 100% faith-based creed: God does not exist. Therefore everything just happened all by itself and I, the atheist am the measure of all things. Which makes me, the atheist, the god I worship and adore and from whom I, the atheist, derive all wisdom.

        Wisdom is all about moral values and how they apply productively to the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, the Bible is full of wisdom. And yes, I have read the Bible all the way through. But that isn’t necessary to encounter biblical wisdom which is glaringly obvious.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Well, there ya go, Nan. It’s glaringly obvious. And this person of such great wisdom and high moral wisdom-hood is saying the I am of good moral character (cuz my blog) and I am also not (cuz atheist). Confused? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Bill, Try reading the Ten Commandments. Out of multicultural tolerance, atheists get to omit the first three Commandments. That is an example of glaringly obvious biblical wisdom. Also, I cited the Book of Ecclesiastes in an early comment.

        Bill, why the insults? Why do you choose to ignore the obvious?


      11. There’s no dogma among atheists. Damn sure no religion! since it would be pointless. What can be a more “personal opinion” than worshiping an invisible man in the sky? (rhetorical).

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Bill, Your blog and all the comments by atheists are full of dogma. It is so close to you and you feel so righteous about it that you don’t notice it.

        Because atheism cannot be proven it is a 100% faith-based creed (collection of dogmas held by the religion). Atheist thinking is so homogenous and so similar from atheist to atheist that it looks like it came out of a cookie cutter.

        Conversely, proofs of God’s existence are thousands of years old and I have posted scientific proofs of God’s existence many times on my blog and in comments to atheists who request the proofs. Unfortunately, I haven’t met an atheist who knows anything about science so they are unable to understand the proofs. The point is, that proofs are based on facts and logic, not faith.

        So believing in God is rational, whereas atheism is a matter of 100% faith and so, irrational.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Whoops! I think you got confused in your comment, SOM … What you obviously meant to say is this: Because Christianity cannot be proven it is a 100% faith-based creed

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Speaking of rational, what you wrote here is not.
        The invisible man in the shy is not rational. The virgin birth is not rational.
        Even the Pope finds conflicts between faith and reason.
        For me, no concept that includes such giving over to a deception is rational. But I will not defend my conclusion any further with such a demented babbler of foolishness.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a former Christian and it wasn’t along process for me to stop being identified as a Christian. I did wake up one day wondering why do we worship on Sunday when the bible mentions the Sabbath seventh day. This began my journey for the truth. Now I am anti-religion and I disagree with Athiestsim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not sure what you mean by, “disagree with atheism.”

      I am also a former Christian, specifically Roman Catholic. I hope you know that many Christian denominations hold fast to Saturday as the Sabbath. I will peek at your blog. But if you wish to discuss, feel free. 🙂


      1. I disagree with science being the key to truth. I take it you don’t know what anti-religion means. I am not looking for a church or a religion.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Science doesn’t have evidence of how the Universe came into existence. Science isn’t political based like religion is so it has no truth of human struggles in this life. It’s a dangerous view of people since many Athiest think no on has a Soul. My experience with Athiest they are to angry and sarcastic to think rationally.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I left Christianity back in 2012. I don’t think I ever identified myself as a Christian. What took along time was understanding what Religion is. Religion isn’t just a belief in a supernatural being it’s a government system that is becoming extinct. This is a good thing, because religion has been causing nations problems ever since it began.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Christianity and religion like it are a Theocracy government system where the King has Divine rights. This means the King has no accountability for their acts. The Vatican, Islam are a couple places that have this form of government today.


      3. I see. The Vatican is a country. Islam is a religion that folds into politics. Indeed there are excellent examples of theocracy.


      4. Think about it. Take Noah’s ark and see the flood was a real tsunami, but the fictional parts are the ark, Noah’s family on the ark with all the animals from all over the world. Also the flood covering the highest mountain is what was seen when the tsunami came on shore. See you have a real event that was given fictional parts to make the event into an entertaining story.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. But where in the bible does it mention a tsunami? Let’s get real here. Imagination can turn all sorts of things in the bible into events and circumstances that “make sense” but that doesn’t change what is written. And in the end, isn’t that what believers base their lives on?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. No, believers base everything on the indoctrination they were taught. Most of what Evangelical Christianity teaches isn’t in the bible. They pick a whole verse or parts of a verse from different books in the bible. Then they add what they think those verses mean. This is how doctrines are made.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. 🙂 They do tend to cherry pick. I doubt if I ever met anyone who tried to live according to the whole deal (given that books differ). Anyway, back to that awful thing I call reality.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Christianity’s foundation is Jesus Christ- he is the bar. The journey away from (and towards) Christ begins when a Christian looks at the bar: “.. deny yourself, take up the cross daily, and follow me.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Once again, my bad syntax, or whatever it’s called; “foundation” and “bar” do not belong together.
        My point is that a Christian may lose heart and turn away when faced with Christ’s authoritative demands in Matthew 5: “Love your enemies.. be ye therefore perfect, as is your heavenly Father.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Authoritative demands, is it now? Be ‘perfect’ is it? Be like god is it?
        How about being a normal person? You know, like the one you think was created you that way. Human.
        Religion, Arnold. It’s a religion. The rules and regulations made by men about how to deal with the divine. 🙂


      3. Jesus also said, “Return, and come unto me.. take my yoke upon you, learn from me.”
        He came in the flesh to rejoin us with God- a walk, a personal relationship, a marriage of friends.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. No yokes for me unless eggs are involved. I can walk, shuffle, or dance. I can have personal relationships with some real people. I’ve been married a very long time. One is my limit.
        You would not be parroting what someone else told you, would you? 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  5. The only religious ones you hear about or from, are the far right ones. They rest don’t speak up, which surprises me because these nutcases give religion a really bad reputation…hence the nones. There is so much meanness, judgement and hate in religion today. I want no part of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I find the silence from supposed moderate or liberal theists is a type of circling the wagons. If they criticized their fellows, then they could be criticized and even their “kinder gentler” versions would be shown just as ridiculous.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Many believers do criticize the extremists. They blame them for the exodus. Mary has a good point, but it is just her personal perspective. Not sure who you are calling “supposed.” 🙂


      2. ah, true. I find most Christians to only be supposedly moderate or liberal since they have no problem with the viciousness in the bible when it comes down to it. The belief that a blood sacrifice by torture is beneficial isn’t exactly moderate or liberal, IMO.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think that access to information is a big one, and I find this includes atheist being out there talking about it. I find it rather like the phenomena of people realizing that someone not like them isn’t scary, like when my dad says “for a “x” (insert casually racist comment here), he’s not a bad guy”.

    there’s also the problem that this religion makes promises and not a one comes true. After two thousand years + of fail, it’s bound to lose credibility.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. PHEW! You said a LOT! 😄 And covered a lot of territory.

    This — If every atheist was willing to come out, it would be more — I thought was probably your most telling remark. But you covered a lot of other scenarios that also made sense.

    I have to admit, I smiled as I read … Many of us deplore the insulting, overaggressive, know-it-alls who seem to think that behaving like an ass will result in folks seeing the truth. There are most definitely a lot of them around!

    And this remark — Religion often survives because going to church is a social club. goes along very well with my recent post on “Why Religion.” 😊

    Overall, a really good post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Nan.
      This is a long post, but it’s also an interesting phenomenon. It has been the way with nones in Europe for more years, but they have a different and more severe religious history than the America. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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