5 thoughts on “Where do the “nones” come from

  1. It’s an interesting point, and one I’ve heard before. It’s an explanation for the phenomenon that is commonly offered by Catholics, evangelicals, and fundamentalists alike. While I think they raise some interesting and valid points, though, I do find myself wondering how they reconcile there position with recent research and literature that suggests that people here in America at least (I don’t claim how well this applies in any other place) have a rather negative view of Christianity. I’m curious how Father Barron handles the fact that many people around him probably feel that Christianity is better known for the things it opposes rather than what it is for or in support of, for example. Such negative perceptions of Christianity certainly aren’t the result of “creeping liberalism” in mainline Protestant church!
    I think his statement also begs the question of HOW a religion should differ from the secular world. And I’d note that such a distinction is probably only a requirement for those religions who want to recruit everyone into their fold and/or are deeply invested in an “us vs. them” perspective of the world. 😉

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  2. I have to say I like this Matt, that is not to say that the social action agenda should be dropped but that there must be more. Christianity is distinctive and committment is important. There is a fine line between nothingness and fundamentalism, but we must find it and walk it.

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  3. It’s an interesting trend, and rings true with some of what I’ve experienced. I would say that there is definitely a trend of dwindling youth numbers in Evangelical/Fundamentalist circles as well. Seems like that’s the backside to this – you want to guard core doctrines, but not be so rigid that you don’t allow that you might be wrong on your articulations.
    In another way of saying it, it seems the plummeting numbers of the mainliners has been primarily a lack of prophetic impulse to be able to say no to culture as well as yes. They did a good job of the yes moments, but a terrible job of the nos.

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  4. The main reason for the changes would be the nominal protestants dying and their children are the new non-religious. The generations already died failed to pass on the faith, and much of the move to liberalism would have been in response to their decline rather than the reason for it.
    From 2001 to 2006, “No Religion” in Australia went from 15% to 18.7% (in SA 20% to 24.2%, with NSW still down at 14.3%).

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  5. Jarred, I’m no expert on America but research from Australia is suggesting this: that high commitment religion is harder to connect into, but also harder to disconnect from, because it involves a higher degree of worldview and lifestyle transformation. So, the more fluid and pluralistic our cultures become, the faster low commitment religions can be expected to churn over in comparison to high commitment religions. A useful comparison might also be made between initiated Pagans and faddish New Agers I think.
    Furthermore, low commitment Christianity has traditionally been more state supported than high commitment Christianity. So in the shift from the monopolistic situation of Christendom to the more open market situation of secular capitalism it is the low commitment (ie highly nominal) varieties of Christianity that have proven most vulnerable to loss of state support.

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