5 myths from bad church statistics
I recently read a piece by author and researcher Warren Bird titled, “Seven Most Interesting Lies from Bad Church Statistics.” He and others, like sociologist Bradley Wright (author of Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites: And Other Lies You’ve Been Told), identify and shatter popular myths that tend to bash Christians or churches.
Below are five of the more popular myths. If any interest you, you’ll find much more detail and documentation in Wright’s humorous and fascinating books. He writes mostly about evangelical Christians, because that is also his vantage point as one himself.
Myth #1. The divorce rate among Christians is as high as that of nonbelievers.
Reality: Christians have significantly lower divorce rates than the religiously unaffiliated. Further, the more regularly a Christian attends church, the less likely that person is to divorce.
Myth #2. Christian young people are leaving the Christian faith in record numbers.
Reality: Younger people are less affiliated with church than older people, but that’s the case in every generation since scholars began tracking it. We always need to help the next generation connect with church, but the overall percentage of Americans who affiliate with evangelical churches has remained rather stable for the last 30 years.
Myth #3. The prayer life of American evangelicals is diminishing.
Reality: It turns out that prayer is on the increase. For example, 75% of evangelicals today pray on a daily basis, compared to 64% of those in the 1980s.
Myth #4. Evangelicals are less active in sharing their faith with others.
Reality: About half of all evangelicals report sharing their faith with non-believers, and rates of evangelism have held rather steady over the past several decades. This evangelism rate is more than double the rate of mainline Protestants and Catholics, and is higher than most other religions.
Myth #5. The more educated you become, the more likely you are to give up your faith.
Reality: Belief and practice grow stronger with increased education, evangelicals included.
Bad news always sells more than good news. Certainly there’s a lot of need out there, both spiritual and physical, where Christians could make a far greater difference. But as we gauge our progress (or lack thereof), let’s be accurate about it. Well-used statistics can help us do so.