American Christianity is not well, and there's evidence to indicate that its condition is more critical than most realize — or at least want to admit.

So writes William Lobdell for the LA Times today, after telling us of Anne Rice's defection from her faith. He also reported on some other interesting facts about Christians:
Pollsters — most notably evangelical George Barna — have reported repeatedly that they can find little measurable difference between the moral behavior of churchgoers and the rest of American society. Barna has found that born-again Christians are more likely to divorce (an act strongly condemned by Jesus) than atheists and agnostics, and are more likely to be racist than other Americans.
And while evangelical adolescents overwhelmingly say they believe in abstaining from premarital sex, they are more likely to be sexually active...
Various studies show American Christians as a whole give away a miserly 3% or so of their income to the church or charity.
Christian activist Ronald J. Sider writes in his book, "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience": "By their daily activity, most 'Christians' regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is their Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate their allegiance to money, sex, and personal self-fulfillment."
But if one adheres to the principle of Occam's razor — that the simplest explanation is the most likely — there is another, more unsettling conclusion: that many people who call themselves Christian don't really believe, deep down, in the tenets of their faith. In other words, their actions reveal their true beliefs.
That might explain why Roman Catholic bishops leave predator priests in ministry to prey on more unsuspecting children. Or why churches on Sunday mornings are said to be the most segregated places in America. It also would explain why most Catholic women use birth control even though the practice is considered a mortal sin.
But judging by the behavior of most Christians, they've become secularists.
To read his whole column click here.

Bravo Bill!


GearHedEd said...

What a great tagline:

"William Lobdell, a former Times staff writer, is the author of "Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace.""

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

With their mouths they claim that Jesus is their Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate their allegiance to money, sex, and personal self-fulfillment."

Hey! What did ever do to you to make you pick on me on your public blog, John? Huh!? :-( :D ;-)

Here's another quote I think you'll like: "to Satan they consecrate their sinful life, and to Christ their speaches and writings praising the purity most sublime." -- (from here).

Neal said...

There is much for a Christian to agree with in this article, though it would easy to quibble with a few points here and there. However, it's not like other Christians have not made similar critiques of American Christianity, and in a much more substantive way than this article does. See for example the writings of Michael Horton, who has been drumming to this beat for about 2 decades. Much of this criticism is well-deserved.

LadyAtheist said...

I was kind of at that point when I decided to read the Bible to try to figure out which church was right. I decided it was all hogwash. I wonder how many "Christians" have actually read that thing? It's a mess.

Dan DeMura said...

I applaud Anne Rice... and hope she goes back to writing about Vampires, I loved her books.

For the Christian church in America... Change is definitely in the air.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about this topic frequently. I think Christianity is on its way out. It may take a while but I see the trend.

One reason I think this is that I'm just a regular guy and not a scholar, who after 25 years of believing, gave it all up. If someone like me can wake up then I can't help but think people across the world are also now waking up. And with books like TCD (which I am reading) and others the evidence is overwhelming that Christianity is false.

I really believe that the Internet is the primary cause of this trend. Today, believers in their homes can comfortably read and watch videos anonymously from people questioning what they believe. They don't have to speak face to face, which when they do the believer tends to put up a mental block and not listen.

I did not have this available to me in my teens and 20's. As such, I did not have the inclination that all of my faith was false. I am convinced that if the internet was available sooner I would have left the faith sooner.

Long live the internet :)

Chris said...

To just be clear, Anne Rice gave up on the religion of Christianity, not her faith!!

goprairie said...

Anne Rice did what most Christians secretly do, which is to decide that she and only she has it all figured out. She left organized religion because churches have wrong ideas about her Jesus, to whom she remains dedicated. It seems obvious to me that a God that is so ambiguous and invisible that everyone has their own ideas about him/it must be entirely made up. You don't see scientists quitting orgnaized science cuz everyone has it wrong about gravity. The Bible HAS to be interpretted and cherry-picked to not be dismissed outright as impossible, and that opens up the interpretation to anyone and everyone. When a person stops looking to others for their authoritative answers and starts looking for their own answers, they take the arrogant stand that Rice has. Some even decide that since they and only they 'get it', they should tell others about it and start their own club, I mean, cult. Some even decide that since they and only they have it figured out, they must be the next coming of Jesus. That is when it gets REALLY interesting.

Chris said...

@ Dude

"I think Christianity is on it's way out".

Thats what Nietzche thought too!!

Anonymous said...


Nietzche did not have the internet. D'oh!

It is my understanding that the fastest growing segment of "religion" in America is non-believers.

Take a mental picture of our world now. Compare it to what you see in 15 years. More and more people are waking up... there are no gods.


Anthony said...

Dude: I'm just a regular guy and not a scholar, who after 25 years of believing, gave it all up.

I'm with you, I also gave it up two years ago after being a committed believer for 25 years.

Chris: Thats what Nietzche thought too!!

Spoken like a true apologist. In addition to Nietzche not having the internet, he also lived when Christianity still had a major influence on Western culture, that is no longer true today. Western culture has become more and more secular and Christianity less and less relevant, except maybe in some third-world countries where they go around wounding and killing children because they are "witches" or passing laws giving severe prison sentences or even the death penalty for being homosexual.

Thin-ice said...

The evidence that I witness around me confirms the pollsters. Several life-long evangelical christians I know, including my own family, have stopped going to church. They won't say it out loud, but they are bored with 3 decades of hearing the same sermons and dealing with church in-fighting. None of our children, who grew up in evangelical churches, even pretend to be christians, let alone attend church.

The only way evangelical churches can fill their pews is to become mega-churches, with professional stage shows every Sunday, and Starbucks in the lobby. As the faithful become less and less familiar with their theology, and even the Bible, their commitment becomes extremely tenuous.

Make no mistake, few will divorce from their faith through rational thought and examination of the evidence, but at least we can still look forward to an anemic and meaningless evangelical movement in the coming decades.

Abukrist said...

Chris said...

"Thats what Nietzche thought too!!"

And he was in many ways right. Europe, (where he lived) is now mostly post-Christian.

Chris said...


I am not an apologist! I am just making the point that Neitzche was wrong. He thought God was dead and he's not. Christianity is growing all over the world; not just in Africa. I am not a Christian but I just think it is too premature to start talking about the death of Christianity. Time will tell.

goprairie said...

I think the last thing to go will be the belief in souls and the idea that you will see your dead loved ones in some sort of heaven. People will quit church and dump the organizational and social aspects of it when it ceases to have meaning, but they still find a way to believe in some version of god so that they can cling to the soul/heaven concept. Those not willing to examine it much will cling to a traditional God/Jesus version and those who examine it will end up with a God-of-the-gaps sort of thing. But totally giving it up is difficult and I think the afterlife thing is the hardest boundary there is for most people. So there will always be these Christians who don't practice much of anything but cliing to some belief set. The good news is that those type of Christians are pretty easy to convince that separation of church and state are important and that religion ought to keep out of our laws, so the bad things like persecution of and discrimination against gays should diminish.

Ross said...

To paraphrase Mark Twain, "Rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated." I agree with Chris. While it may be true that these are challenging times for the Western church, you're not telling me anything I'm not already aware of. There's no reason to think that the situation is any different in Australia, either.

PS: I'd recommend reading Sider's book, too.