Last week we started an introduction as to how our beliefs impact the interplay between values and beliefs as a nation. This week we will take a look at the role of faith in our beliefs. Founding Fathers of the United States considered the appropriate priorities of Americans to be faith, nation, and family…in that order. Today research indicates that faith is typically embraced by people’s fifth- or sixth- highest priority trailing elements such as intelligent consumption and career optimization. Only half of American adults (53 percent) contend that their religious faith is very important in their life these days. [Barna Group, “OmniPoll 1-14, OL-PH” national survey among 2,036 adults eighteen or older, January 2014]. That proportion has declined steadily over the last twenty years. Most studies now show that roughly one-third of the under-thirty group have no connection to organized religion, and their distaste for organized religion is growing steadily. [“American Religious Identification Survey”, Trinity College, September 2013; Focus on the Family findings,”Millennial Faith Participation and Retention”, August 2013; Barna Group and American Bible Society, “The State of the Bible: 2013; Gallup Politics, January 10, 2013; “Six New Findings About Millennials”, Pew Research Center, March 7, 2014]. A growing number of adults now describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious”, by which they mean they are open to and accepting of things related to faith and the supernatural but not inclined toward routines, traditions, doctrines, and faith systems. [Barna Group, “OmniPoll 1-14 OL-PH”]. Being spiritual but not religious means that a person can integrate faith into their life at their pace and in their own way without the accountability and expectations that accompany being religious, much less Christian. Some of this distancing oneself from religion may be explained by the widespread perception that religion is losing influence in American society. The advance of technology and information systems has conveyed the impression that we are a knowledgeable, intelligent society and that religion is old fashioned, outdated, and irrelevant to our “sophisticated” life. Only four out of ten adults believe it is very important to lead a religious life. Fewer and fewer adults believe that religion holds the answers to most of life’s important problems. [Gallup Politics, June 27, 2014]. (“…although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:21-22). It is one thing for religion to be characterized as outdated, but to be perceived as both outdated and irrelevant is a sure ticket to cultural oblivion. This atmosphere reflects to contracting role of religion and faith in “postmodern” America. This places a great deal of responsibility on churches to reach out to the public and educate it in the principle roles God, faith, and the Bible have played in making this nation the nation that it became. It is also the responsibility of the church to encourage the wise choices needed to ensure God is not relegated to the history books by secular politicians. Our Founding Fathers understood this; why is the current generation having such a difficult time with this concept? We must all come to the understanding that the Bible must be integrated into our daily lifestyles. Satan’s workers are doing all they can to keep that from happening. “The Bible is the best gift God has given to men. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong”. This statement was not made by a pastor, but a politician…Abraham Lincoln. [“Abraham Lincoln Complete Works”, The Century Company, 1894, Vol II, Page 574].
Next week we will take a look at this nation’s beliefs about God and Jesus. Most Americans “believe” in God but we must remember so does satan. A righteous lifestyle goes beyond “belief in God”. The church can play a major part in sorting out beliefs and integrating these Godly beliefs into the individual lives of each citizen.
– Bob Munsey