[Ed. – Faith in nothing]
This is the third in an occasional series about Christianity at a crossroads — a time of unprecedented decline in church membership and a changing future for the faith. Part 1: As Christian denominations decline and churches close, a way of life fades. Part 2: Fewer ministers and shrinking budgets mean heavier burdens.
They reveal a major force behind the empty pews in churches across Minnesota and the nation. Nearly one in four Americans now declare themselves unaffiliated with any organized religion. An estimated 56 million strong, and growing, there are more of them than all mainline Protestants combined.
The church experience that was central to many of their parents’ lives has lost relevance and credibility.
“I can’t imagine that only one religion has access to the pearly gates,” said Lisa Pool, explaining her church breakup after class ended. “I realized there are all kinds of different paths to being a good person.”
The surge has Minnesota religious leaders wrestling with implications for the future of their churches, the future of Christianity. More than half of U.S. churches now see fewer than 100 worshipers on weekends, and they’re getting older, reports the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.