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. DC

    Churches are no more or less prone to corruption and hypocrisy than the government.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Eli

      The government is not selling everlasting life for a dollar! Get real!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Sissy

      That's because 50% of Congress (Republicans) represent the church.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Rebecca

      I was from a very non-conventional family that worshiped nature. I did not go to church for the first time until I was 13. I remember thinking that they were all stark raving mad and I never have been back.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • El Flaco

      Televangelical Religion is the most corrupt of all. Money for nothing, and chicks are free.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • JohnR

      @DC Yeah and?

      September 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  2. Dallas Brittazit

    All of the responses from Atheist/Christians are way too intense. Just believe what you believe and others will do what they want.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Sure I'll just be fine with theists in total political control of my country. I'll be fine with my job threatened by coming out as an atheist. I'll be fine with the endless religious wars. Sure man, just smoke some weed and hang back.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Epidi

      It would be oh so nice if what you are saying is the way the world works – but alas it doesn't. Athiests & Pagans have the most to fear about 'coming out'. My boss is a Christian and makes no bones about what he thinks of Islam, etc. If he knew I was Pagan, he couldn't outright fire me for it of course, but he could make things miserable for me in very underhanded ways that would not look like discrimination on the surface. Of course, if he ever comes right out and ASKS me what my religious flavor is, I'll sure ask him why he wants to know but I won't lie about it.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  3. thes33k3r

    god called and said to stop wasting time on religion.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Don

      Be careful! The gullible will believe you have a hot line to God.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • JeramieH

      Which could be useful in some situations.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  4. What is the truth

    All religions have the same motto: " My religion is better than yours" ...Just believe in whatever God you want to believe in and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Bobby

      The problem is that most religions have a target on someone that must be eliminated. Islam has infidels. Christianity has gays.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  5. Chris

    I know my religious attendance went down over the last ten years. I started the decade in a foreign country serving a mission for my church and I was 100% sure of what I was doing was correct. Now...10 years later I still am glad I served, but my church attendance is down and I don't feel the same as I used to. I think it is because I am 30 now and I see things differently. I accept more science and I understand more about life and death...would it really be that bad if when I died nothing happened? What if relgion in general was just a fairy tale to comfort those who fear death and want more to happen than just a regular life and then death...I think we naturally want more to happen, but maybe nothing more does. One way or the other I guess we will find out.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Objective in CA

      Chris, what you're going through is completely normal and healthy. It is very common for 30-year-olds to finally see themselves as completely independent and intellectually ready to tackle faith-based concepts. There will always be a part of you that struggles with ambiguity and doubt; it is simply a part of life. But I encourage you to avoid the pitfalls of those who simply give no place for the concept of a higher power simply because they are willing to consider that they, also, do not have all the answers.

      Regardless of which congreagation you attend, I hope you will consider what a great vehicle it can be as a means of helping others through their struggles in life, and allow others to help you through yours as well.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  6. fellowtraveler

    Tallulah13. Get to know complete sentences if proper sentence structure really matters to you. Remember, can you really tell a wise man by the way he speaks or spells. Is that really more important than the stories that he tells? (old song quote).

    Fifthape- Proof? That's a logical fallacy for what we're discussing. Perhaps science has already found the proof. Physicists have discovered that 85-95% of the universe is made up of an unknown substance that cannot be seen, detected or measured in any way. They call it datk matter and dark energy. Who needs, perhaps it is heaven/universal life force...

    September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  7. matt houston

    Eh...everyone has to grow up sometime. Whether or not god exists won't make any difference if we don't get our acts straight here and now.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Morality does not need to be hijacked by religion.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  8. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Maybe it is the result of people who used to think they were "obligated" to go to church finally figuring out that they are not.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Teresa

      I long for the day when the church doesn't run roughshod over the lives of my gay brothers and sisters. The church's utter disdain for gay America and their weekly hate speeches directed toward this subgroup of Americans is cause for everyone to boycott the church. These places are nothing more than "I am better than you" clubs.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  9. The Jackdaw

    Christianity can't go away fast enough. Same for all religions.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  10. Stupid non-believer

    The only thing more destructive to this country than the GOP? The church. GOOD RIDDANCE!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Thad

      In my 47 years of fighting for gay rights, I find this bit of news to be the best thing I have heard in a long, long time. Americans got a good look at the divisive insanity of fundamentalist Islam in the last 10 years and began to rexamine their own religious intolerance. The intolerance wasn't hard to find.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • J.W

      Oh we arent all gone. You will have to deal with us for the rest of your life.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Stupid non-believer

      Keep up the good fight, Thad! The gay community will get their due. It's only a matter of time.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  11. Epidi

    @manyopinions – So you are saying archaeolgy shows that the universe was created in only 7 days and that woman was taken from man's rib? I've never discovered that to be true at any dig site I've ever worked in. In fact, the more we find the more questions we have because each new discovery changes the paradigms of what was thought to be true and "factual". And in the field hypothesis is just that and even the "facts" are debatable and suject to change at any time. The fact is, many of the Dead Sea Scrolls were left out of the Bible and put into the Apochryphal category. Those that did not suit the early churches agenda to include them. Why do you think they may have been hidden in caves? Someone wanted to preserve them. If you are going to play arm chair archaeologist, you need to get your facts straight.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  12. Bo

    @Observer, just in case you come back to this bLog, last evenig, after I went to bed, you said I was being selective about end time prophecies, particulary 2Thes 2:3-4, grant, I quoted only one, I didn't try to quote them all, but here are some. This topic:Apostasty– 1Tim 4:13; 2Thes 2:3-4; increased knowege–Dan 12:4; Mark of the Beast (unfulfilled) Rev 13:16-17; False prophets, (i.e. Herold Camping) wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, tribulations (unfulled) gospel to all the world (unfulfilled ?) Matt 24:5–11; scoffers 2Peter 3:3–5. There are other end time prophecies that I just can't think of right now. God loves you and me, have a good day.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Stephanie

      Awesome. I also prophesize that the world will encounters wars, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and thousands upon thousands will die in torment. Come on now, just mention one prophesy that is not just plain obvious, just one. Give your best shot.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      As I posted earlier, if it predicted giant space slugs and then they were to appear then I might be impressed

      September 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  13. SCAtheist

    Starve the pig, and maybe it will finally die.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  14. hippypoet

    did people know that satan as the ultimate evil towards mankind and the church wasn't even a thought untill the middle ages?
    its true!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • thinking man

      so your overall point is that the church as its known today is nothing more then piles of bs upon piles of bs from the ancient world?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • I am smarter than Francis Collins

      Incorrect. The Christian church was banned by the Roman Empire, until the reign of Constantine I. Constantine not only legalized Christianity; he made it the State Church of Rome. It was a couple centuries until Rome fell.

      Satan as supreme aggressor has it's origins in early writings of the Christians.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • steelerguin

      The christian church was started in the first century. Cite your sources for that crazy claim

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • hippypoet

      kinda, the church leaders have been hiding the first papers written by the first leaders because of what is says... something we can only guess at... and to maintain control over the masses they have to create days of special whorship, and days to reverence... it further disstills the ideaogly into our kids heads as they grow up. brainwashing. but the idea of hell was not hell as we know it, it was just the place where EVERYONE went after they die, but joshua creates a heaven and split the people some were left in hell while the others were granted the good life in heaven. this is written about in the gospel of nicademus... but the church creates the evil face to hell in the middle ages to scare people so more to have even more control... the world was after all a really bad place to live then so give a reason for all the bad things and the small minded fool will love you for handed them the answers.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • SCAtheist

      hippypoet is right – most of the satan myth came from medievil pagan religions.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • thinking man

      the other people are tring to argue when the church was founded... they should learn to read.. however, can you hippy provide a source page for your info, i would like to further my own knowledge about this... plus i have read nicodemus before, very good, but weird. as for the devil, i have heard such stories before and am just looking for a page to gather info.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • hippypoet

      if i could i would have... i can find all these web sites and books anymore, i have known what i know for years... it can be a pain trying to proov what is a fact to someone who only thinks they know and will only believe something else not me... i don't lie and never have, its more frightening to tell the truth to those who don't know.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Google "the history of the devil in the christian church" and have at it.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Epidi

      @SCAtheist – they pinned their Satan mythology onto Pagan deities/nature spirits and then planned thier holidays around Pagan ones and absobing some of the Pagan festival trappings (such as the yule tree) to help the masses swallow their rhetoric. Imagine what Pagans in those times must have thought when first hearing that this person rose from the grave and now his followers eat his body & drink his blood (communion). It's where the vampire myths came from as well, lol.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Believer

      WRONG, Jesus created the Traditional Roman Catholic Church at the Last Supper.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • hippypoet

      @BELIEVER your an indiot... read my first post, it states nothing to do with the creation of the church.. but apparently your priest never taught you how to read proper or else you would have been able to get messages out!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  15. tankette

    The Left and the media (one in the same) constantly belittle Western religions (note – I left out Islam because the media leaves them alone...they are a "protected class"), its no wonder that the numbers have fallen. Its the way of propaganda...say it enough...and most will believe it. You can see it in some of these posts....HATE of religious people.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Christian Persecution Complex. Everyone is out to get me.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Poor little Christian. No one will let you persecute anyone anymore so now you are the persecuted.....


      September 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • William Demuth

      say it enough...and most will believe it

      Ain't that an ad for the Bible?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • FifthApe

      Pull your tin foil hat down – your ears are exposed.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • SCAtheist

      You just don't get it tank. We don't hate you; we are laughing at you.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • christ defender

      Do not listen to their hatred tank. They are godless and therefore have traded their reason for madness.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Techie

      @tankette: You have to understand the chic liberals have no ideology other then to be trendy. They support dunking the the cross in urine as free speech (Christianity is passe) but they oppose burning the Koran as intolerant ( They leave Islam alone so they can claim to be worldly, cultured and tolerant). They oppose guns because they kill people but they are pro abortion because it about individual rights. They oppose religion because science doesn't support it but despite the many examples of contradictory science against man-made global warming they support that. If you want the chic liberal left (as opposed to true liberals) to follow you you have to make your position fashionable. You have no hope to do that because your faith isn't about fashion it is about spirituality and they have no clue what that means.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Try Again

      The research about lower attendence was for Muslims as well. If you want to prove bias, you're going to have to try a different article.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • snowboarder

      the definition of privilege: when those who have enjoyed special status cry foul when they are relegated to the same status as everyone else.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Fred1

      Pretty impotent god if he can be taken down by PR

      September 21, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  16. SamIam

    Atheists are not really atheists, there believers who are mad at God or refuse to carry guilt and who want to continue to live life the way they want with the illusion of happenstance existence. Now you tell me who is in denial.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Stephanie

      How can non-believers be mad at something they don't even believe exist? It is like saying you are mad Santa Claus because you don't believe in Santa (well hopefully).

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Sean Russell

      I don't believe in leprechauns or the tooth fairy either. Tell me, wise one, is it because I'm mad at them too? Do you believe in them? Do you believe in ghouls, goblins, and vampires? Why not? Is it because you're 'mad' at them?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Ralph in Orange Park, FL

      I am mad at God. I am also mad at unicorns, leprechauns and the tooth fairy.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • I'm The Best!

      Theists are not really theists. They're just Atheists who are too self centered and narcissistic to realize that the entirety of existence and the universe was not created specifically for them.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Poor samlam, he cannot even imagine that someone does not believe gods exist. I have better evidence of Santa and the Easter Bunny than I have ever heard of for your god. What possible reason do I have believe in that fairy tale?

      Samlam, you require many delusions to get through the day.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Ralph in Orange Park, FL

      To Sean Russell. Sarcasm is wasted on the terminally literal-minded.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • FifthApe

      Dude – you have serious problems with logic. Think about that first sentence. Anyways, which of the 3000 gods invented by humans are we mad at? All of them?

      You must be mad at some to? You presumably don't believe in all of them do you?

      When you understand why YOU reject all other gods you will understand why I reject yours.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Ed Galbraith

      What does "illusion of happenstance existence" mean? You mean an acceptance of natural selection or (god forbid) evolution? Is evolution (even the pope accepts it) is an "illusion". C'mom Samlam, as a Christian you know more than that about "illusions"

      September 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • christ defender

      Samlam is right. If they didn't believe they're would be no need for them to get up in arms about it. Lol. They are constantly under attack by the truth in their own hearts. Silly atheists.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • LuLu

      Whether they have observed the hypocrisy of religion or not, many atheists simply cannot reconcile belief in God with the suffering in the world. Do the world’s injustices—including those instigated by hypocritical religionists—prove that there is no God? Consider: If a knife is used to threaten, injure, or even murder an innocent person, does this prove that the knife had no designer? Does it not rather show that the object was put to a wrong use? Likewise, much of human grief gives evidence that humans are misusing their God-given abilities as well as the earth itself.

      Some, however, feel that it is illogical to believe in God, since we cannot see him. But what about air, sound waves, and odors? We cannot see any of these things, yet we know they exist. Our lungs, ears, and noses tell us so. Surely, we believe in what cannot be seen if we have evidence.

      After contemplating the physical evidence—including electrons, protons, atoms, amino acids, and the complex brain—natural scientist Irving William Knobloch was moved to say: “I believe in God because to me His Divine existence is the only logical explanation for things as they are.” (Compare Psalm 104:24 24 How many your works are, O Jehovah!
      All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.")

      Similarly, physiologist Marlin Books Kreider states: “Both as an ordinary human being, and also as a man devoting his life to scientific study and research, I have no doubt at all about the existence of God.”
      These men are not alone. According to physics professor Henry Margenau, “if you take the top-notch scientists, you find very few atheists among them.” Neither the advances of science nor the failure of religion need force us to abandon belief in a Creator.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Duh

      Lulu man has always claimed what we can't explain it must be a god. As we slowly learn about our world each of those myths have been shown to be a scientific phenomenon, not a god. If I can't explain it – its a god! NOT!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • closetiguana

      Your god depends on where you where born.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Arrogance is Unappealing

      Obviously, it's foolish to lump all those who disagree with you into one group. I'm an atheist who wishes he were wrong. For me, immortality is obviously appealing. But so is supermodel looks and fabulous wealth, infinite knowledge and infinite power. I've no illusions about being able to achieve those by wishing for them or following a ritualistic path to magically create those things. In other words, the suggestion that atheists must disbelieve in god in order to sin is really an accusation of inexcusable stupidity. You suggest that those who disagree are too stupid to try and save themselves from eternal damnation by invisible beings, when it just might be that they don't believe in the invisible.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "SamIam – Atheists are not really atheists, there believers who are mad at God or refuse to carry guilt and who want to continue to live life the way they want with the illusion of happenstance existence. Now you tell me who is in denial."

      Yeah because the idea of an all powerful supernatural being using magic, creating everything and setting some system of life in place to determine where people go when they die for some reason makes such sense, lol . Yeah, I must secretly be mad at god. Too funny.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • snowboarder

      ignorant fallacy. atheists deny only one more god than you do.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • snowboarder

      with every little increase in human knowledge our reliance on the supernatural for explanations of the natural world is diminished.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  17. DJ

    Don't know where you are getting your info, but the Pentecostals are growing by leaps and bounds. This year, they are growing by the thousands

    September 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Sean Russell

      "badda gah mingmang jolla ba timtam."

      Look at me. I'm speaking in tongues!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Ed Galbraith

      Sorry, DJ. Not so.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  18. James Kimble

    It is amusing to read all of the nay-sayers... The Bible is the most archeologically correct book ever written. It is record of God's dealing with man, and man's betrayal of that relationship... If anyone has a problem with a Creator, you won't when they shovel dirt in your face. You will stand before Him and acknowledge Him. To think that all life, all the various species of plants and animals are the result of an unexplainable accident, is ridiculous. Where did the first particle of matter come from?
    And you ridicule US for our faith and beliefs?

    September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Stephanie

      Except you believe the wrong book. The right book is Qu'ran. Get real.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • tallulah13

      You have no proof of god, you have no proof of afterlife and any archeological correctness can be easily explained by the fact that the people who wrote the bible knew where they lived. Troy was discovered using clues from the Iliad. Does that mean Zeus and the Greek pantheon are real too?

      Also James, your personal scientific ignorance is not proof of god.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Terry

      And who created your creator?

      As for archaelogically correct, read here http://www.dbskeptic.com/2011/06/08/the-bible-word-of-god-or-myth-of-men/ especially re floods.

      But the bible doesn't even agree with itself, so it's just plain wrong to claim correctness for its content generally:

      Look up Pascal's Wager for another of the fallacies that you committed. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Sean Russell

      Yes, that is correct- we do ridicule your beliefs. Just because towns and persons mentioned in the bible existed- that is NOT proof that god exists. Where's the video or pics of the burning bush talking to Moses? Where's the evidence that Jesus performed miracles.
      Have you heard of the book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"? There's actual places mentioned in there too. And Alice was based on a girl that Lewis Carroll knew. Does that mean it happened? That a girl really fell down a rabbit hole and met the Queen of Hearts and a talking rabbit?

      But you know what, we wouldn't ridicule your beliefs if you didn't keep shoving your religion down our throats.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • AZ Wildcat

      Another believer in the medieval comic book.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • christ defender

      It takes a lot of arrogance to be an atheist. Have you ever met a humble one? Nuff said.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • tallulah13

      well, gosh, christ defender. Your humility is a shining light for all to see. Of course, you offered no insight into the existence of god, only an insult. Gotta say, that's a pretty weak defense.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Ed Galbraith

      C'mon J Kimble. "the most archeologically correct book ever written"?...It may be the most archeologically correct book YOU'VE ever read (I'm betting it is), but don't label the rest of the world as illiterate and unscientific because you've fallen in love with nonsense. An archeologist would fall in a pile laughing at your remark. Keep your "god" stuff to yourself...and please don't engage in child abuse by telling your kids the heaven/hell crap.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Humble One

      I didn't realize humility was a prerequisite for correctness. If I arrogantly declare that one plus one equals two, does that invalidate the math? I suppose your actual argument is that Christians are superior because they're nicer? Or that likeability is preferable to factual debate? It would be pretty ridiculous to suggest that ALL people of one belief are arrogant and that ALL people of the opposing belief are humble. And yet, you do it. How can that possibly win people to your way of thinking? Or help support your other arguments? Best to apologize for an obviously disprovable assertion and start over again, don't you think?

      September 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "The Bible is the most archeologically correct book ever written. It is record of God's dealing with man, and man's betrayal of that relationship"

      Your logic is faulty. The first, if correct, does not prove the second.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • I Don't Get It

      christ defender,
      "It takes a lot of arrogance to be an atheist."

      Oh, and it is not the height of arrogance to think - yea, insist, that a purportedly magnificent, omniscient, omnipotent, perfect supernatural being has chosen *you* as a pal and wishes to spend eternity with *you*?

      Arrogance = : an att.itude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or as.sumptions.– Merriam Webster

      September 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Fred1

      "Most archaeologicaly correct book ever" what have you been smoking?

      the biblical record of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their subsequent 40-year wandering in the Sinai wilderness. According to census figures in the book of Numbers, the Israelite population would have been between 2.5 to 3 million people, all of whom died in the wilderness for their disobedience, yet extensive archaeological work by Israeli archaeologist Eliezer Oren over a period of 10 years "failed to provide a single shred of evidence that the biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt ever happened" (Barry Brown, "Israeli Archaeologist Reports No Evidence to Back Exodus Story," News Toronto Bureau, Feb. 27, 1988). Oren reported that although he found papyrus notes that reported the sighting of two runaway slaves, no records were found that mentioned a horde of millions: "They were spotted and the biblical account of 2.5 million people with 600,000 of military age weren't?" Oren asked in a speech at the Royal Ontario Museum. That is certainly a legitimate question. Up to 3 million Israelites camped in a wilderness for 40 years, but no traces of their camps, burials, and millions of animal sacrifices could be found in ten years of excavations. This may be an argument from silence, but it is a silence that screams.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  19. Grant

    I'm kind of glad. Never seemed to me that God needed all that earthly wealth anyway. Maybe folks will get back to praying without paying.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Don Camp

      I understand the antipathy toward "paying"especially when it is not an act of worship but of duty or coercion. But for those of us for whom it is worship, we rejoice when we can give. And we know some of our money goes to help people in very practical ways – feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, providing medical care for the sick, rescuing those trapped in addictions and sins (trafficked girls, for example) . So keep your money, God does not need it. But if you want to really enjoy God – and life – be generous with what God has given you.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • tallulah13

      Don, you may not be aware of this, but there are secular groups that accept financial donations to support charitable activities. That is where many of us non-believers give. So many religious groups don't address the real problems facing people in poverty, such as birth control. That is why I support groups like the local food bank and Planned Parenthood.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Son of a Preacher Man

      Most of the money in the church coffers go toward self-preservation and expansion. With your money, they pay the staff, the rent, the utilities, buy furniture, expand and repair the building, and so on. One might reasonably suggest that a declining economy encourages more people to spend their money on their own bills instead of the church's.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  20. I am smarter than Francis Collins

    I found a Typo:

    "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."

    Should start, "the only bit of bad news"

    CNN.com editors really suck.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
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About this blog

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.