The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church by Christine Wicker

Christine Wicker has a blog one may subscribe to via RSS or Google Reader that keeps abreast of the book's latest reviews and reader's comments. Meanwhile, Steve Locks, at Leaving Christianity has done us the favor of reading her book and summing up its contents...

The author is a Christian of sorts, an ex-Southern Baptist and ex-evangelical, but still a mild believer (she has a mini-testimony at the end of the book) saying that she accepts Jesus as her saviour and would count her self as born again on certain days when she is in the mood for it! She also prays when she wants to but has many doubts and disagreements with the church.

Her data comes from interviews with leading Christians, polls and published studies. If you want her references for any of these below, let me know.

Here are a few notes of interest that I found within it:

* Church attendance figures are inflated as many Christians attend more than one church and are multiply counted.

* Roughly 1,000 evangelicals leave Christianity altogether every day and don’t come back. As a whole American Christians lose 6,000 members a day (i.e. the other 5,000 going onto their own private views of religion – leaving organized religion, whilst maintaining some unorthodox religious belief like Christine Wicker, the author).

* Conservative religious causes and spokesmen are over-represented on TV as they are featured 3 times more often in TV and print reports than moderate and progressive Christians.

* The proportion of Christians who subscribe to all core evangelical beliefs is about 25%.

* The fastest growing “religious group” in America is non-believers.

* There are twice as many people claiming no religion as there are participating evangelicals that have made the religious right powerful.

* Southern Baptist growth isn’t keeping up with population growth and it hasn’t for years.

* 86% of baptisms are of people who are already Christians. (i.e. Christians “changing brands” rather than conversions of unbelievers).

* In the remaining 14% baptisms are going down in every group except children under five.

* Southern Baptist baptisms were 100,000 in 1980 but 60,000 in 2005.

* Evangelicals are slightly more likely to believe that astrology impacts one’s life (13.6%) than Americans as a whole (12.3%).

* Mega-churches are often heavily dept-laden and suffer particularly when an influential pastor retires or dies, or the local population demographics change.

* 11% of Americans identify with the religious right.

* 20% of evangelicals identify with the religious right.

* Some evangelicals blame the Internet for allowing people to think differently about Christianity. (note: exactly as Farrell Till predicted in The Skeptical Review many years ago!)

Steve Locks, Leaving Christianity