We are living in a day our forefathers of the faith could not have imagined. In a nation founded largely by men who believed in God, it’s hard to explain the secularism of our society. Most historians of our day ignore the influence of the Puritans. They also refuse to even register the fact that the “separation of church and state” was not a separation of church from state. It was merely a concern that America not be a monarchy and that we not have a national religion that favored one denomination or church above another.
Today 92% of students in America have no church affiliation. In the three counties that surround the city in which I live, 88% are not members of any church. We are in the buckle of the Bible belt, but it resembles a land of anarchy more than I care to admit. Government leaders are self serving. We’ve seen corruption in local politics, gangs roam the streets, and many of our schools are not safe. Meanwhile, the Gideons are forbidden from giving out free Bibles at the local schools. Go figure.
In USA TODAY (Tuesday, September 22, 2009), Cathy Lynn Grossman writes that Americans who “don’t identify with any religion are now 15% of our population.” Catholics currently make up 24% of our population, but they could soon be outnumbered by unbelievers and those claiming no religion. Of the people who say they have no religion, 35% say they were Catholics when they were age 12.
Researchers predict that those with no religion will number one in five within 20 years. The lead researcher of this study does give a word of hope. “There could be a Great Awakening (massive Protestant revival) or immigration may bring in more Catholic believers.”
The researcher, Barry Kosmin of Trinity College, says, “They’re a stew of agnostics, deists, and rationalists. They sound more like Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine. Their very interesting Enlightenment approach is like the Founding Fathers’ kind, skeptical about organized religion and clerics while still holding to an idea of God.”
This is not our greatest problem in America today. The greater problem is a faithless, apathetic, carnal, backslidden church that lacks any power or concern about glorifying God in this world. Until we get fire in the pulpit and in the pews, these numbers will go up. Only a revival of biblical proportions can bring a change.
© Michael Catt
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.