Newsweek’s proclamation of The End of Christian America leaves a sense of despair in the minds of many Christ-followers this Holy Week. We have heard President Obama state recently that America is neither a Christian or Muslim country, and now we read in the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) that the percentage of individuals claiming no religious affiliation has almost doubled. But there is more. The northeast quadrant of the United States is identified by the survey as a new “stronghold for the religiously unidentified.” This is not entirely unexpected as we have seen the ongoing decline of religious influence in academic institutions located in this region, institutions that were originally established to some extent to advance God’s Kingdom. And the concentration of liberal politicians in this region of the country has been noticeable for many years.
Observing that the momentum of the current political climate is resulting in a greater secularization of the American mind, I suspect that the numbers presented in this ARIS report will likely increase in the next five years. As Christian doctors continue to have their right of conscience threatened, as institutions like Notre Dame make an impractical distinction between the office of President and his ideology, and as common, every day believers hand over their religious freedom of expression for a mythical notion of neutral language and practice, I think we will see these numbers increase throughout the country. But this is not the end of Christianity and God is not dead. America may no longer be easily identified as a “Christian nation,” but the work of the church has not ceased.
American Christians do not really know what it means to be persecuted. Yet on a relative scale, I do believe that the infractions against conservative religious voices will motivate an uprising of American Christians willing to challenge the rising tide of intolerance. The question for Christian conservatives is, are we willing to work harder AND smarter to impact individual’s lives that will ultimately have an impact on the overall worldview of our society? In theory, we are all willing, but are we willing to stake our lives and reputation on an explicit expression of the Christian worldview? Perhaps we can even take some responsibility for the problem of secularization for preferring a godless conservative language and approach over that which is consistently and unabashedly Christian. That is not a battle between the conservative vs. the secular, but the Christian vs the secular.