Reading Time: 2 minutes

The long-term future of Christianity is looking pretty grim. At least that’s what the data from a recent Pew Research Center study is showing. According to their report, Christianity continues to shrink as a share of the US population as more people engage in religious switching. 

In this report, “switching” is defined as “a change between the religion in which a person was raised (in childhood) and their present religious identity (in adulthood).” The majority of those switching range in age from 15 to 29 years old, though starting in the mid-1990s, it became more common for adults in middle age and beyond to discard their Christian identity. A slight majority of those who were raised Christian and are now unaffiliated are males (54%) and have college degrees (35%). Seven-in-ten adults who were raised Christian but are now unaffiliated are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, compared with 43% of those who remained Christian and 51% of U.S. adults overall. Also, those who have disaffiliated after being raised Christian are more likely than others to live in the West (28% live there, compared with 20% of those who remain Christian and 23% of all U.S. adults). 

As reported by Publishers Weekly, the Christian publishing industry appears to have responded to this decline by releasing a slew of books over the next year that “explain how to deconstruct previously held beliefs and rebuild a spiritual connection to God and gain a stronger sense of faith.” Along those lines, books such as Celebrities for Jesus and When Narcissism Comes to Church seek to address the more “toxic” elements of Christianity. However, their focus on evangelical churches turns a similarly critical lens on the abuses found in more liberal and progressive church settings. 

Even if church leaders manage to build “better churches,” will folks come? As per the Pew Research Center, religious disaffiliation in the United States began “snowballing” from generation to generation in the 1990s. Within this same time frame, progressively fewer adults retain the Christian identity they were raised with, which in turn means fewer parents are raising their children in Christian households.

Already, those who classify themselves as religiously unaffiliated or “nones,” emerged as the largest religious voting block in 2016. If recent trends in religious switching continue, by 2070, they will not be just the largest religious voting block, but also will approach the majority of US citizens.

Avatar photo

As a freelance writer with dual MDiv/MSW degree from Yale Divinity School/Columbia University, I focus on the rise of secular spirituality, religious satire, spiritual health & wellness, faith &...