Baylor University researchers on American Christianity

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Pat Neff Hall at Baylor University.

In November of 2015, the Christian Post reported

Distinguished scholars from Baylor University on Tuesday decried the myth that religion is on the decline in America and argued that it's actually growing and is stronger than ever.

Professors from Baylor University's Institute for Religion Studies in Waco, Texas, participated in a panel discussion at the National Press Club focusing on the "secularization myth," where they lambasted the media's spin on various surveys which has led many to believe that irreligion is on the rise in the United States...

J. Gordon Melton, professor of American religious history, explained that although Mainline denominations have lost membership in recent years, the number of denominations in America has increased steadily since the 1960s. Now, there are over 1,000 denominations in the U.S.

Melton cited the Encyclopedia of American Religion and the 2010 American Religious Census to show that, as the American population has risen, church membership in America has risen at a much quicker rate.[1]

The Baylor University website similarly declares:

Recent coverage of American religious life, by focusing on the decline of some of the larger denominations and the new organized life of non-theistic communities, have missed the larger story that since World War II, religion in the United States has grown spectacularly and ahead of the population curve. America is now the most religious it has ever been with Church membership at an all-time high and relatively new worshipping communities representing the spectrum of the world's religions now spread across the urban landscape. As a nation in which the great majority of its people have affiliated with a religious community, without government coercion, America is possibly the most religious country that the world has ever seen.”[2]

Miscategorization of nondenominational Christians as having "no religion"

See also: Nones

Research shows that a significant amount of American nondenominational church members are checking "unaffiliated" or "no religion" on surveys.

Based on research done by Baylor University, a February 2011 article entitled Good News about Evangelicalism declares:

Nondenominational churches, almost exclusively evangelical, now represent the second-largest group of Protestant churches in America, and the fastest growing section of the American religious market...

This trend has affected popular statistics and has also served to exaggerate the loss of religious faith and evangelical influence in America. Most previous research missed a new phenomenon: that members of nondenominational churches often identify themselves on surveys as unaffiliated or even as having “no religion.” Because traditional surveys do not provide categories that adequately describe those who attend nondenominational congregations, their members often check “unaffiliated” in typical surveys and questionnaires...

Similarly, claims that Americans, including evangelicals, are falling away from the faith contradict seven decades of survey research confirming that only 4 percent of Americans are atheists.,,

...We found no statistically significant difference between younger and older evangelicals on other moral and political issues, however. Younger evangelicals were, in fact, sometimes more conservative than their elders.

...The number of evangelicals remains high, and their percentage among practicing Christians in America is, if anything, rising.[3]

A review of Rodney Stark's book Why the World is More Religious Than Ever declares:

...it is argued that the percentage of Americans who say they have no religion is skyrocketing. But, all that reflects is an increase in the percentage who have no denominational preference. They are not irreligious. Most of them pray and say they believe in God. In 1944, the Gallup Poll was the first to ask about belief in God, and four percent of Americans said, “No.” When asked that question today, four percent say, “No.” In fact, actual church membership is at an all-time high, and 66 percent now tell Gallup that “religion is important in my daily life."[4]

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