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A rough decade for American congregations
A new survey shows a decline in worship service attendance in the United States.
September 20th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

A rough decade for American congregations

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - A new decade-long survey of American congregations shows religious health and vitality are weaker than they were 10 years ago.  While the survey showed that many congregations are adopting new technologies and innovative worship, there were steep drops in financial health and attendance at weekly worship services.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research released the study's findings Saturday in a report titled "A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000 – 2010" authored by David A. Roozen.

In the measured decade, churches, temples and synagogues told surveyors that congregations that were innovative and contemporary showed the highest amount of "high spiritual vitality."

Forty-seven percent of congregations that said their worship experience was "innovative and contemporary" reported high spiritual vitality, versus 17% that said their congregations were "neither innovative nor contemporary."

The vast majority of congregations implemented electronic communications in the past decade.  Recently, many have turned to social networking as well, with 41% using Facebook to communicate with congregants.

Congregations are also having hard times financially, the survey found.  In 2000, 31% of survey participants reported excellent financial health.  In 2010, that number plummeted to just 14%.

The recession, Roozen writes in the report, "affected nearly every kind of congregation equally – large and small; north, south, east and west; financially healthy or struggling before the recession. One bit of good news was that one in 10 congregations reported that by the time of the survey, they had already begun to recover."

Roozen writes that a variety of factors led to the decline, but overall, there are fewer Americans in the pews, and "... more than 1 in 4 American congregations had fewer than 50 in worship in 2010, and just under half had fewer than 100. Overall, median weekend worship attendance of your typical congregation dropped from 130 to 108 during the decade, according to the FACT surveys."

FACT refers to Faith Communities Today, a multifaith coalition that researches congregational life.

While megachurches - congregations with more than 2,000 members - continued to grow in popularity, they still represent only a fraction of American congregations, at one-half of 1%.  "And while it appears to be true they are attracting an ever bigger slice of the religious attender pie, it is a bigger slice of a shrinking pie," Roozen wrote.

The decline hit across religious and denominational lines, sparing no one, Roozen wrote. He said that "no single category or kind of congregation ... was exempt from the decadal downsizing of worship attendance."

The data came from Faith Communities Today surveys and represents 11,077 congregations and 120 denominations of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions, the institute said.  Most often, the surveys were completed by the congregation's leader, and the institute estimates the margin of error to be plus or minus 4 percentage points.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church

soundoff (2,018 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    As prophesied: 2 timothy 3: 1-7.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  2. Lisa S

    And to richunix... you are absolutely ridiculous. You have no basis to say that no one has seen "bar none" anything that has taken place in the Bible. Many archeological finds have proven that the cities, events and people were real that were recorded in the Bible. You can have your belief, after all we do have freedom of choice. But make sure of what you say before you spread falsehoods to others.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • albert

      Lisa, you make an excellent point. I doubt very much that the people posting here are actually scientist. Many scientist actually believe in a creator. Their is a lot of evidence to prove Bible accounts. There is historical evidence that Jesus existed. Whether or not one wants to believe that he was the Son of God is a different matter. But to say Jesus did not exist as a human is nothing more than a lie. How can we trust a "Scientific" comment, from someone who lies about history to try and prove a point??

      September 21, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  3. Gary

    Maybe the church is declining because it is based on the false religion of Paul (who never met Jesus). Please do yourself a favor and read "The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity" by James Tabor. The true teachings of Jesus have been destorted.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  4. Viper Dave

    Looks like speaking / chanting / singing to fictional characters that want your money and spend it frivolously while molesting your children isn't quite the bomb it used to be. Pity, it kept everyone out of Wal-Mart on Sunday mornings making the line shorter for those of us that don't believe in the fairy tale that religion is.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • onewingedangel0920

      you're really bitter to have the highlight of your weekend be a shorter line at walmart...get a life loser

      September 21, 2011 at 7:47 am |
    • nevanderh

      LMAO! The price of piety.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  5. Lisa S

    Actually, false religion, (which is most of religion today) will be done away with according to the Bible. And with the fulfillment of prophecy it isn't too far off. There is so much division and false teachings in religion today that it is no wonder so many are negative about it. Jesus said "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." We don't see much truth being taught today. And what he meant was that you will be set free from false teachings and traditions of men. Teachings like the trinity and hellfire. These things are not taught in the Bible. So it is no wonder that percentages are down, and according to God's Word they will stay that way. But it is through God's Kingdom led by Jesus Christ that this earth will be fixed. Not by man....and definitely not by false religion.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • Erm

      We are so lucky you have all the answers.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • atheitarian

      What a dolt! All religion is false and for the ignorant. It's great to see that Americans are starting to wake up.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • Lisa S

      I know I don't have all the answers. The Bible does though...

      September 21, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • nevanderh

      Oh Lisa, I laughed so hard. Thank you.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      quick Lisa...give the history of the bible, who wrote it, how it was put together and when? please also provide the contradictions of that book

      the fact is that the bible was written by man, was not divinely inspired and is 2000 years old...thus it is not pertinent in today's world

      it is time that people let go of the churches apron strings and learned to think for themselves. I understand that this is a frightening world but the belief in the unknown is not going to resolve the issues. Get off your knee's and try being productive...helping hands are better than those that pray. The feel good measure and laziness are in excusable.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      oops should have said not excusable instead of inexcusable

      September 21, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • injunbill

      talk about the clay in the feet..it is really showing itself.Not all all are on the decline..ours gains over 700 a day.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  6. Matt

    Everyone gets religion in a foxhole or when times are tough. "Sooner or later God will cut you down,sooner or later God will cut you down"

    September 21, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Kelly

      Thanks, Matt..I had to go and listen to that song as soon as I read those lyrics 🙂 I agree that many people who weren't otherwise, get spiritual when thier lives are on the line.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Shawn

      You know that's not really true. Plenty of people do not get religion in a foxhole, both literally and figuratively. There are plenty of athiests in our armed services. None of the catastrophies in my life, and there have been quite a few, kept me from eventually realizing there is nothing supernatural, god or otherwise out there.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  7. Romeburns

    I appreciate Richunix's objection more than the others because it is far more intelligent. Still, some of his premises are outmoded in understanding. For example, claiming that no events in the Bible have been verified is in opposition to archeological and historic evidence which supports almost every event from Genesis Chapter 13 forward. Reference Bauer's "Ancient History of the World" and numerous other sources. Many of the stories of the Bible are confirmed by the historic evidence from other cultures with belief systems hostile to the Bible.

    I believe in micro-evolution but suggest that macro-evolution is unsupported and really controverted by science. Many make assumptions based upon popular notions that are not true. I hope you will investigate your assumptions with an open mind and an open heart.

    God bless!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Erm

      Are you an archeologist? Because an actual archeologist would completely disagree with you. There isn't even any physical proof that Jesus ever existed.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  8. dogs rule

    Not to worry. The Bible Belt is alive and well, and everyone still goes to the Baptist churches!! Then, they spend the rest of the time serving themselves with no regard for others or others' rights or wishes. Pompous asses.
    For me, all I needed to know about God and religion I learned on 9-11-2001.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • jwmotai

      If all you learned of God from 9/11, you in for a lot more knowledge when you stand before God on your judgement day

      September 21, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • onewingedangel0920

      Those aren't christians, those are the simple strawman arguments you use to get your simple point across. Try making more sense instead of knocking down softball premises

      September 21, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • Erm

      jwmotai....you assume there is a judgement day. Most of us don't believe in that nonsense.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Deedubya

      Well put although Richard Dawkins put it better: "My last vestige of "hands off religion" respect disappeared in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th 2001, followed by the "National Day of Prayer," when prelates and pastors did their tremulous Martin Luther King impersonations and urged people of mutually incompatible faiths to hold hands, united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place."

      September 21, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • Keith

      Really, dog, you should take a deep breath and try to get past your bigotry. Rather than not caring for anybody else as you say, Christians (incl Baptists) in this country give more money to charities than non-Christians; the 3rd largest disaster relief NGO is the Southern Baptist Convention; they staff & stock food pantries all over the US; they run free after school tutoring programs, and much, much more. If you can't see that, your own hate is to blame.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  9. albert

    Science also makes erroneous claims. For example they say it is mathematically possible for there to be life somewhere else in the universe. Yet where is the proof? There is none. In order to prove the Big Bang theory, science would have to create something from nothing (good luck with that). Then there are the scientific artist conceptions of what early man looked like. Absolutely 100% impossible to prove. And more often then not, these are based on a few bone fragments. Yet you believe it all as truth. And what about the many scientist that do believe in God? So you see, except for the many cool advancements in technology, medicine, etc, science is not all that different from religion. Science also believes in invisible things that have never been seen, witnessed, or touched before. And correct me if I am wrong, but Just like you say religion was man made, science is man made too right? That being said, I despise religion. It is far removed from anything the Bible teaches. My point is, don't try to use logic that can be thrown back at you.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Charles

      you want something from nothing? GRAVITY.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • albert

      So are you trying to tell me that science created gravity?!?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Tony

      Try using logic when trying to explain something logically.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • Mattski

      Weak argument. Try again. The theories you mention are based on mountains of physical evidence. If you applied strict scientific rules of assessment to religion, you would conclude it's not real because there's no evidence.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • torrentula

      Science never claimed to be a supernatural belief system. It is a method of investigating what our senses can perceive, and since our senses are not always completely reliable, people can make mistakes. But science is also a self-correcting system. If we find that something is wrong with a theory, we don't think it is a test of our faith. We correct the error.

      The claim of life elsewhere is not erroneous. It is a statement of probability. It is not proven fact, as no scientist has ever claimed, so your argument is a red herring. Artists conceptions are *artistic*, though much of the technique of bone and muscle structure, skin structure and other traits are based on scientific evidence. But again, nobody ever claimed it was factual evidence that early man actually looked like that. You seem to confuse inference with wild guessing. We can use things we already know to point towards a likely probability. This is scientifically and mathematically correct procedure, and it leads to many discoveries. If it doesn't, then at least we can find out our error instead of maintaining a lie.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • albert

      Mattski, Please direct me to the "Mountains" of evidence" that show life on other planets. I want to see this life, touch it, smell it. Heck at this point, just show me a picture. I also want to see the evidence of why artist when drawing early man, use more hair the older the specimen is. Where is the proof. Show me the "Mountain of evidence" that shows the Big Bang Theory to be factual. Have scientists created something from absolute nothing? And finally, for extra credit. Explain why their are scientist that do belive in God. They are privy to this same "Mpontain of evidence" right?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • albert

      torrentula, I hear what you are saying, but really for you to believe the things you do takes faith. Everything you state can be used as proof that God does exist. The "Lies" you speak of are not from the Bible, but from religion. I doubt you have actually studied the Bible as deeply as you have studied science. Religion as we know it today is far removed from what the Bible teaches. Christmas, Easter, Hellfire, the Trinity, etc, all lies. It is no different than the scientist that promote and teach theory, and probability as truth. Did you know that God is also "Self -Correcting". You would be amazed at what the Bible actually teaches. That fact that you and I have the free will and ability to debate this is truly amazing and unique. None of the other creatures on earth can do this. If a computer can be considered to have been created, then I am convinced that we as humans while are more supporter to a computer in so many ways, were created to. That is really all the evidence I need. Science wants to take credit for all of their awesome creations, (which basically mirrors nature), yet you want me to believe that the awesome things you are mirroring just happened by chance?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Justicar

      You claim there is no proof that there exists life elsewhere in the universe. First, you need to get away from the term proof with respect to science. Yes, there is no evidence that life exists elsewhere in the universe. This is precisely why it isn't currently a model of science to say that there is life elsewhere. We say it's possible. The reasoning is fairly straightly put: we know life can exist in this universe because here we are alive. Therefore, if life can exist in at least one place, without further information we cannot know that it is impossible anywhere else. Therefore, it is possible that life might just exist somewhere else. QED.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • albert

      Justicar, There are many that take theory and probability as fact. If you someone Is there other life in the universe, some will say "Yes". Did man evolve? "Yes". How did the universe come to existence? "The Big Bang? You see my point? These things are being taught in schools as fact without all the evidence being there. Religion is no different. You probably believe that Christmas, Easter, Hellfire, Jesus is God, are taught in the Bible. The fact is that they are not. Yet many religions teach it as fact. Jesus himself even spoke out and warned against these people (Matthew 7:20-23) That in and of itself should cause someone who is actually interested in learning more about what the Bible has to say, to actually read it and study it for themselves.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • torrentula

      albert, how could God be "self-correcting"? I thought he was perfect, thus having no flaws to correct. I would love to hear where in the bible it says this.

      As to free will and complexity of life, your own personal leanings as to what is possible do not affect the facts. Neither do mine, but a scientific system allows proper investigation of whatever facts are there to be found. As to Big Bang as a fact, point to any scientific textbook that says it actually, irrefutably happened. You cannot, because, like you said, the evidence has not all been found. This is the nature of a scientific theory: it explains what evidence we have, while at the same time being amenable to the discovery of new evidence.

      Also, your argument about a complex computer boils down to "I cannot think of any way in which a human brain could have become more complex than a computer, therefore I think it must have been made by something infinitely more complex." Does nothing to explain our existence and it posits the existence of something even more complex that you must now explain away. It's an infinite regression.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  10. Colin

    Are the Abrahamic traditions the only ones that count, then? I wonder if the results would have been different had the survey included people of non-Abrahamic faiths (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, Taoism, etc.). I bet they would.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Kiljoy616

      2% of the population does not count for much.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • AGeek

      Someone needs to do more research. Non-Abrahamaic religions make up *far* more than 2%. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism alone account for roughly 26% of the world's believing population while Abrahamaic religions are good for about 54%. Seems to me that's a statistically significant omission – purposefully done to skew results.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • danny

      ageek – the article was about religion in America, not the world. 2% is probably more like it.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Atheose

      AGeek, you do realize this was just a study of the United States, right?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  11. Nicole

    The number of people in these "main-stream" religions may be declining, but what about the number of people following "alternative" faiths? That is a statistic I would like to see.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  12. Reality

    A prayer to help push the congregations to the final deletion:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    To enhance the speed of the demise of all religions, please post the following on your refrigerator doors:

    SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
    THERE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR LIKE 9/11.

    SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
    THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.

    SAVING 15.5 MILLION FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
    ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

    Added details upon request.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • RGeneration

      Grow up.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:24 am |
    • Child of Christ

      No proof of God?? GO OUTSIDE AND LOOK AROUND!!!!! You can stand on a street corner in a city and look around...you see buildings don't you?? Well....you don't know who built them but you know that someone did...SO....do you think the trees just grew themselves from absolutely nothing?? Do you think that they take in our carbon dioxide and release oxygen so YOU can breath just because they want to?? Do you not know that when you look at the moon if it was off course in its orbit by less than an inch it would wreck havoc on earth....do you not stand feet down on the ground and not fly all over the place because of gravity??? WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! GOD DOES EXIST!! He allows the sun to shine on all of you haters of Him and He allows you to enjoy his beautiful creation!! If you can stand outside and look at that building and say.....nobody made that...it sprang up out of the ground by itself then you my friend have a point to make...otherwise stop being so arrogant and hateful and get to know the wonderful Creator!!!!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 7:33 am |
    • albert

      Probably the most idiotic nonsensical post of the day. Just as an FYI, Easter is not a Bible teaching. Churches that celebrate Easter do not have an understanding of the Bible. Don't confuse religion with what the Bible actually teaches.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • NCLaw441

      The challenges to Jesus' existence, divinity, miracles and, ultimately, His resurrection would be more believable if those who were alive at the time, many of whom witnessed the resurrected Christ, would have recanted in the faith of unspeakable torture and execution. They did not. Who would willingly be the subject of such excruciating acts for claim that they did not believe in and witnessed with their own eyes? Who would knowingly give his life in the most horrible way (as so many did) in the name of a faith he did not possess?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • JohnR

      @NCLaw The only "eyewitnesses" were characters in the same fictiitious story. Your credulity is laughable.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/Disease:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Reality

      Paul picked up the money scent on the road to Damascus. He added some letters and a prophecy of the imminent second coming for a fee for salvation and "Gentilized" the good word to the "big buck" world. i.e. Paul was the first media evangelist!!!

      o Did Paul see the physical, risen, simple preacher man aka Jesus on the way to Da-mascus? Or was it in a drunken stu-por/dream/hal-lucination brought on by his per-se-cu-tion of the Christians? It is obvious that Paul knew all about Jesus since he was a rabbinic per-sec-utor of said Christian cu-lt. And why pray tell did Jesus not appear to Tiberius or Caligula or Nero?? Sure would have saved a lot of time.

      It was obvious that Judaism in its conflict with Rome was about to be relegated to a second class cu-lt. Paul saw the "writing on the wall" and set about getting ahead of the destruction of Jerusalem and the near an-nih-ilation of the Jewish race.

      Also please note, Paul's death appears to be heavily embellished. See Professor JD Crossan's book, In Search of Paul, p. 401 for a good review of the history of his ma-rtyrdom i.e. Paul (as was Peter) was rounded up along with many Christians in Ne-ro's purge of the c-ult using the great fire of Rome as the pretext for the exec-utions. No special death wishes granted. It was a group execu-tion.

      (note: hyphens added to some words to defeat the inane, secret word filter used for this blog)

      September 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  13. Karen

    Maybe what people are looking for is not a better program to attend, but for a place to reconnect with God. At my church you get an hour of what I term "commercials" and about half an hour of preaching. By the time the sermon comes I have had it with the whole process and just want to escape. If I want to see "singing and dancing" I will buy a theater ticket.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  14. drinky

    Good...Though it only took a few thousand years to finally see the stranglehold these fairy tale based cults have on the brains of the weak and the slimy...

    September 21, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  15. elgeevz

    I was a true-believer when, at age10, I set about to read the Bible. I started with Genesis 1,1 and read straight through until I got to Numbers 31. Then I stopped reading and going to church.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • thinking

      You missed the best part. The hope it gives.
      The problem today is there are a lot of religions to hate but not enough to love.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  16. Cheffy

    The most important part of the Faith, is the collection plate, whose idea was it to turn the words of a Prophet, into a business?
    Did YOUR Jesus have ornate, air conditioned temples? IF as you say God sent his only Son to die for our SINS, then we all are going to Heaven anyway, and the need for "Churches" is non existant. I say see God here and now, and treat your fellow man accordingly

    September 21, 2011 at 7:20 am |
  17. anonymous34682

    The Catholic child molesting scandal that has been ongoing, likely for centuries, certainly has something to do with the decline of interest in religion.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  18. Romeburns

    Notice the hostility, anger, ridicule and persecution. That betrays a deep-seated conflict. Scientists are as likely to be religious as the general population. Quantum physics has disproved materialism and the random creation of a nucleotide would take far more time than the 14 billion year age of the universe (according to NASA) would allow for. Intelligent design is obvious in various life forms as the design of systems, like the eye, which require billions of changes which independently cannot be explained by natural selection. There is a creator God and to deny that only occurs by these same critics putting FAITH that somehow "science" proves otherwise when they don't know what they are talking about. This is a shallow and uninformed viewpoint relying upon obsolete scholarship but which nonetheless is a popular view among the masses.

    It is also arrogant because it denies that I can know and understand a truth that you don't understand. I know there is a God because I have experienced God numerous times in supernatural ways. With all due respect, from my standpoint, your denying God is much like a blind man denying that purple exists. I've seen purple and I know it exists – though I can understand why you deny it because you can't see it. Your not seeing it does not make me angry or make me want to ridicule you. I understand why you don't see it.

    Read Plato's parable of the cave.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • AGeek

      This is full of more crap than a dairy farm.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:18 am |
    • Justicar

      Scientists are manifestly not as likely to be religious as the general population.

      Your understanding of simultaneous trials is apparently entirely imaginary.

      People on LSD know that one can taste colors for the same reasons you know your god exists: the mind is profoundly easy to deceive.

      Plato's philosophical investigations do not amount to evidence, the likes of which we explicitly demand in science. Speaking of god and blind people: why are there so many? What about amputees? Not a single on in recorded history has had a limb returned to him/her by your god. But he occasionally cures cancer? Curious.

      Your understanding of science is rather, um, quaint. I would point and laugh, but I'm told it's rude.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      actually only about 8% scientists claim to be religious, so that totally falsifies your claim...
      to claim your god exists requires factual evidence...saying personal experience has given you that evidence is not good enough unless you can prove it is outside of your own mind and at this point in research, it is impossible for you to do that.
      Understanding how the brain functions may be a good start for anyone who says they have had those experiences.

      Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.

      religion-a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • richunix

      Romeburns:
      Two thousand years ago multiple religions were the cultural norm. The belief in multiple GODs (the word GOD is taken from the 6th century CE Germanic language) was widely accepted and only varied by type (and special abilities) depending the region you lived in. None of the Bible stories were ever PROVEN (BAR NONE) and they were will written long after the events supposedly happened. The only thing that changed was the names used to describe the GODS, from Sumerian times the supreme God was called “An” when have evolved to the current Christian name “YAHWEH”. To make a finer point the only thing that really changed was the “story teller” . Each story teller went to great lengths improve his or her deity to the reader. Also remember they didn’t have much on the burden or nor was proof really a requirement. These writers create wondrous feats of magic that go beyond the basic physical laws of nature. You find the very same Creation (according to the Sumerian) stories written thousand years earlier, only the name has changed to meet the current popular God in use. Of course when any questioned these stories, the same standard answer “God says so” . But yet the same people will question any other believer’s of different religious sects like the Jehovah Witness and Mormons and then label them as “whack–jobs” , but they fail to see Christians are no different. The major difference is modern man has proven through scientific exam the laws of nature and how man really works and YES we evolved from lower forms of life and YES Apes are our distance cousin (deal with it).

      I’m not interested in changing anyone beliefs, that is for you to decide. If believing in whatever you wish to believe make you feel better about yourself, please continue. But stop with trying to make these stories sound if they are true. No ONE (BAR NONE) has ever seen any God (outside of the occasional burring bush and always alone), parted the Red Sea or the Jewish Sea of Reeds or even a damn pond or have they ever turned anyone to stone, pillar of salt or into your favorite color. If you ever attempt (and a few have) to use any of the stories mention in the bible as a test of scientific theory and then use them in court for defense, by invoking the angel Satan made me do it, or God said so, then who are you to say “He’s lying”, in short mold the fantasy into your reality.

      To finish, I’m very happy with my life and YES I know I’m going to die as it is very much a part of life. I’m not so vain or fearful about what will happen that I need stories to comfort my fears. I know I will live forever, I can see it every day with the next generation and I sigh with relief, that they will make the world a better place. Enjoy your life, do what you can to make it better, don’t live in fear of unknown.

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • Romeburns

      Reference "Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence" by 5-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Physics Henry F. Schaefer. Resorting to ridicule only proves my point. It is a form of insisting on one's position without adequate reason or investigation. Your assumption that it is "in my mind" presumes that the supernatural experiences I have experienced are not evidenced by facts external to myself – which is not the case at all. Again, it is an uninformed denial of what someone else knows in order to defend one's own position.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Reality

      What we know for certain:

      1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

      2. Asteroids continue to whiz by daily in the asteroid belt.

      3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

      4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

      5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

      6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 billion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

      Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 billion years?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • maganism

      Romeburns: Don't know what your intention is... if you do not have any open mind, why do you start the discussion?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:33 am |
    • albert

      So Justicar, please explain the Scientists with equal education, the same understanding of the "evidence", that do believe in God. I agree that the mind can be deceived. That is actually an excellent point that you make. But can you prove that your mind is not also deceived? I doubt you are a scientist with the vast knowledge that they have. Yet you believe what they tell you. Most of which you have not seen or experienced. It sounds like you do have faith and a type of man made religion. The only difference is that you call it Science.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Kiljoy616

      Notice the hostility, anger, ridicule and persecution. That betrays a deep-seated conflict. Scientists are as likely to be religious as the general population.

      Making things up does not make them true, but then you know all about making things up since your a believer if fairy tails.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Tony

      Just for example, the development of the eye is fully accounted for by natural selection. There is zero "evidence" for intelligent design and no need for it. "Intelligent design" would require consistent "intervention".

      September 21, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • asdf

      Rarely has a CNN comment produced such a superbly thought out, written and most rational response. Amen to you brother. May God bless you richly indeed in your Christian walk. Words like this can change a person's direction in life and I pray that many will benefit by reading them. As the Word says, "Be fruitful and multiply". May your gifts spread and save others. Isn't it amazing how our earthly experiences transform when we focus on our Heavenly goal and bringing as many as possible with us?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I had had a schizophrenic friend who was equally certain that aliens were replacing people. I could not prove otherwise. Should I believe him too?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  19. John Dale

    Excellent news. Lets just hope the trend continues and more and more Americans manage to to crawl out of the 18th century.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:05 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      I can't see this trend not continuing. The more non-believers there are that come forth and stand up without fear, the more likely the next generation is to do the same and follow suit. This is a wonderful day for us!

      September 21, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • Kiljoy616

      Would that not be grand, now we just need to also get people to vote in their best interest and not in just what their emotions makes them believe in.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  20. TruthPrevails

    Wow, do we need a lesson on the definitions of the most used words here?? People tend to take Atheist, faith, science, religion, theist, agnostic (to name a few) out of context.

    To clarify:

    Atheist: Someone who does not believe in God. (Still open to the possibility, however small, that there might be one.)

    Hard Atheist: Someone who is pretty sure that there's no God! Believes that the existence of God is impossible.

    Agnostic: Someone who can't himself prove (by logic, reason or science) that God exists.

    Hard Agnostic: Someone who believes that it is theoretically impossible to prove that God exists.

    Anti-Theist: Someone opposed to the practicing of religion or spirituality of any kind, for moral, political and/or social reasons.

    Theism states that the existence and continuance of the universe is owed to one supreme Being, who is distinct from Creation

    gnostic- relating to, or possessing intellectual or spiritual knowledge.

    Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.

    religion-a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:02 am |
    • Tony

      Thanks.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Tony: I posted due to the fact that too many christians/believers seem to think that science is a religion and that atheism is a belief system. They make up their own definitions without researching anything outside of their book of fables.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:50 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.