In 1945 the percentage of Americans who said they were Christian was
93%. In 2008 that percentage had dropped to 76% and continues to
fall. In a survey it was found that "...The long-term trends look
even more frightening for the churches in America. According to LifeWay
Research, membership in Southern Baptist churches will fall nearly 50
percent to around 8.7 million Americans by the year 2050 if current
I believe that it is the hell and damnation old testament/Hebrew religion
that hasn't changed in 1,500 years that's doing it. Science is now telling
us that there are 500 billion (yes that's billion) galaxies like our own Milky
Way. The six day Creationists (I'm a creationist but think that science
has the time factor correct) and Ten Commandment believers lost it long
ago. Jesus replaced the Ten with the Golden Rule even though he wasn't the
first to discover it.
Good News! Young evangelicals are shifting their allegiance.
Much has been said about the mass exodus of young adults from church, with
some studies suggesting that .
While the factors behind the trend are complex, I'm not surprised that young
evangelicals like me are feeling less comfortable in the pews these days. Our
pastors might not like it, but the world is changing, and we are changing with
it. Unless the evangelical church in America can adapt and evolve, it might not
survive in a postmodern world.
I know because I almost abandoned it myself.
A child of the culture wars, I knew what abortion was before I knew where
babies came from. I grew up scribbling words like "debatable" and
"unlikely" in the margins of biology textbooks, fearlessly defending a
6,000-year-old-earth against atheists I only knew in my imagination. When I was
in middle school, my family moved to the buckle of the Bible Belt and became
residents of Dayton, Tennessee, home of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925.
There I attended a Christian college, listened to Christian music, and voted my
Christian values. People called me "Bible girl."
This faith of mine didn't fall apart all at once, but instead eroded
gradually, as I began studying science, interacting with people of other faiths,
and experiencing a touch of "voter's remorse" when my pro-life
president championed two wars overseas. My questions turned into skepticism, my
skepticism into doubt, and I stopped going to church for a while.
My return to faith is something of a survival story that I chronicle in my
memoir, "Evolving in Monkey Town" (Zondervan, 2010). The phone calls
and emails I've received since its publication confirm what I've suspected all
along: I'm not alone. Young evangelicals across the country are experiencing a
collective crisis of faith.
Unfortunately, many leave Christianity altogether. But others, like me,
simply undergo a change.
At the heart of this change is a shift in allegiance. For so long,
evangelical Christianity demanded our allegiance to range of causes--from young
earth creationism, to religious nationalism, to Republican politics. Somehow the
radical teachings of a first century rabbi got all tangled up with modern
political platforms and theological positions that were never essential to
Christianity to begin with.
Young evangelicals are in the process of picking apart and deconstructing
this tangled mess of ideas in order to get back to the most basic teachings of
Jesus. So you shouldn't be surprised to bump into more and more and more
oddities like me--a young evangelical Christian who votes for Democrats, has gay
friends, and believes in evolution.
But don't be fooled into thinking this shift in allegiance means we're simply
jumping from one political platform to another. At its best this change signals
an allegiance first and foremost to the Kingdom of God, which knows no political
party or geographic boundary, but instead grows outside of these confines
through acts of love, humility, and peace. Instead of protesting outside
abortion clinics, for example, we're championing adoption and supporting single
moms. Instead of reducing our Christian service to a duty at the ballot box,
we're looking for practical ways to address hunger, human trafficking, and
The bad news for the Religious Right is that young evangelicals are tired of
the culture wars. The good news for everyone else is that we're ready to make
Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town: How a
Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions." She blogs at