It seems like every day we hear another news report about the decline of religion in public life.
Secular commentators are eager to convince us that the religious population is “dying out.”
New research suggests that we may indeed be at a turning point in American history.
But it might not be in the direction the secularists think after all!
Many secular authors and reporters are doing their best to spread the idea that religion will die out in America over the next few generations.
If you’re an opponent of the homosexual agenda, the abortion movement, or other anti-Christian ideas, you may often be told, “People like you won’t be around very much longer.”
Liberal activists assure the public that their ideas will soon dominate American culture and that they will be the undisputed majority in the U.S. within a few decades.
But researcher and author Jonathan V. Last believes that secular commentators are absolutely wrong in these predictions.
Last has a simple answer: fertility and birth rates in religious and nonreligious groups.
In a recent interview on the Conversations with Bill Kristol podcast, Last noted, “In any population, you’re going to have some subgroups with high fertility rates, and those people eventually inherit the earth.”
In other words, whoever has the most children — and successfully passes their ideas down to their children — will eventually constitute the majority in American society.
Last explains, “the first question I always want to know is: how often do you attend religious services? Because that is the single biggest driver, bigger than education, bigger than race, as to what your fertility patterns are going to be.”
It’s a stunningly simple idea, but an important one.
Last admits that the overall fertility rate has gone down for everyone in America, including Christians and other religious groups — that’s the subject of his latest book, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster.
However, Last asserts that religious people in America are still having more children than those who subscribe to liberal, secular ideals.
“1.6 [children] is the total fertility rate for people who don’t go to church at all. People who go Christmas and Easter are at about 2.1. People who are once a month are a little bit higher than that, and then the people who are at services once a week are around 2.6,” said Last.
These may seem like large differences, but they’re not surprising in our current climate. With the rise of the abortion movement, environmentalism, and anti-child propaganda from radical feminists, liberals are encouraging each other to remain “free” by not having children.
“The more progressive left, I think…they can talk about wanting to make life easier for families, but because of… an environmentalist hold on the party, they can never say out loud, ‘We want to make sure that women are allowed to have as many babies as they… desire to,’” noted Last.
But Christians, who value the sanctity of life, continue to welcome children into the world.
“I think that’s what religiosity is really about,” Last commented. “It isn’t about the textual commandment of any one religion; it’s about a cultural view of one’s place in the world.”
In other words, the worldview of Christianity gives fertility and children an important place in daily life. A secular worldview does not.
Another secular thought combated by Last’s research is the idea that children of Christian parents are leaving the faith.
Many claim that Christian kids, upon leaving their sheltered lives and getting out into “the real world,” will inevitably see the desirability of secular ideas and turn away from their faith.
However, Last argues that today’s Christian children are actually remaining strong in their faith and their religious convictions, disproving this liberal claim.
“The pass-on rate [for faith] is amazingly high,” he said. “If you’re a parent who wants your kid to be religious, you can do that, pretty much. The attrition rate is actually surprisingly low.”
So what exactly does all this mean for American Christians?
“It’s possible that we are kind of living in the high water mark of secularism in America,” Last offered. “We’re likely to become a slightly more religiously orthodox country over the next fifty or sixty years.”
This is an encouraging thought! And, as always, it’s a reminder that God is in control of everything — even when we’re tempted to feel fear and despair as we read the headlines.
Pray over the next generation of American Christians, that they may stay strong in their faith. And pray for a great spiritual awakening in America over the next few decades!
To find more of Last’s work, click here.