Christianity growing in the U.S., as mainline churches decline

According to recent research from Harvard University, the state of American Christianity is a complex one:

Mainline churches are tanking as if they have super-sized millstones around their necks. Yes, these churches are hemorrhaging members in startling numbers, but many of those folks are not leaving Christianity. They are simply going elsewhere. Because of this shifting, other very different kinds of churches are holding strong in crowds and have been for as long as such data has been collected. In some ways, they are even growing. This is what this new research has found.
The percentage of Americans who attend church more than once a week, pray daily, and accept the Bible as wholly reliable and deeply instructive to their lives has remained absolutely, steel-bar constant for the last 50 years or more, right up to today. These authors describe this continuity as “patently persistent.”

As a Roman Catholic, I’ve seen evidence of this firsthand.

The Catholic Church, with its handling of everything from child abuse scandals to doctrine, has disappointed many lifelong believers in recent years.

(Read one of Ross Douthat’s two books on this matter for a detailed look at the problem.)

Many Catholics are now “lapsed”. (I would put myself into this category.) Others are leaving the Catholic Church for evangelical churches.

I probably won’t be attending an evangelical church anytime soon, by the way. While I acknowledge the problems with the Roman hierarchy, I am equally skeptical of small, “entrepreneurial” modes of religion. (I’m old enough to remember the Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker scandals of the 1980s!)