New American Religion Statistics and Modeling from Scientific American Magazine

First United Methodist Church

Jesus and His Love First Touched Me Here—and I Am So Glad

Allen Downey, Professor of Computer Science at Olin College in Needham, Massachusetts, has a new article in the well-known and venerable magazine Scientific American. It contains some new statistical and computer modeling results on the current and projected trends in American religious preference.  It predicts that by the year 2030 a full one-third of all Americans (33.33 percent) will have zero religious preference—in other words—they will be members of the group known today as the “Nones.”  That is only a piddly 12 years from now.  You may read the article by clicking on the following safe link:

The U.S. Is Retreating from Religion

The bad news is that all current American churches will be losing members and failing to gain new members. While that might look like thoroughly bad news on the surface, there is actually some very good news here—a silver lining around the edge of a dark cloud.

What is this good news?  We think it is as follows:

(1) Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches will be the big losers in this trend across the next 50 years. Why? We know that many children raised in hardline Christian fundamentalist churches want out and are already leaving them in large numbers when they become young adults. If it is not that way already, we strongly suspect that this trend will soon engulf numerous conservative evangelical churches whose doctrines and belief systems are very similar to those of the hardline fundie churches.  This means that Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism will become more and more weakened across the next 50 years.

(2) A large increase in the number of “nones” in the American population will further weaken Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and their churches. How will that happen? The large numbers of “nones” and unbelievers in American society will greatly diminish fundie influence in our voting booths at election time and shut off all fundie hopes of establishing an American theocracy to replace the current constitutional government of the United States.  The most evil and pernicious items on the fundie national agenda will slam into an extremely thick steel wall with the words “NO GO” painted on it.  Like Persian King Cyrus in the Old Testament, God will use the “nones” and unbelievers to shackle the hands and feet of the fundies and guard the true essence of the traditional Christian faith until Jesus completes a New Christian Reformation of the American church.

(3) We believe the American church is now beginning to undergo a Jesus-led New Christian Reformation for the 21st century that will sweep Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism into the ash bin of American history. The keystone of the Christian faith, the classic message of repentance and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone will remain the same that it has always been since the 1st century A.D.  That will be the strong trunk of the new Christmas tree.  However, many of its branches and the ornaments hung on them by fallible men since the Protestant Reformation will change—and rightly so.

The ridiculous, man-invented doctrine of Biblical inerrancy and literal reading of the Holy Bible will disappear from American churches. The Bible will cease being an idol. John Calvin’s little 16th century invention known as the Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement will disappear. The American church will embrace the findings of the physical sciences and social sciences rather than be hostile to them. The American church will no longer attempt to revise American history into a set of self-serving lies. The new covenant established by Jesus, his 12 disciples, and the apostles in the New Testament will finally triumph over the covenant in the Old Testament. The LOVE spoken of so much by Jesus and the Apostle Paul in the New Testament will finally triumph over legalism and moralism in the American church. The many evils of conservative Republican politics will no longer be strangling the church. The Church will cease to be a “hate center” that uses the worn out saw: “Love the sinner but hate the sin” as a cover for dealing in hatred, racism, prejudice, and bigotry in the name of Jesus. Many other similar changes will occur in the American church as a part of the New Christian Reformation, and those changes will be based on truth, facts, and Jesus-based LOVE rather than lies and man-invented fantasies.

With so many “nones” and unbelievers resting out on the American landscape, a new and enormously large mission field will become available to the newly reformed American churches. People will come into those churches in very large numbers because everyone wants to be truly loved in church. Church will no longer be a place of profound fear, anxiety, and abuse every Wednesday and Sunday. People will be magnetically drawn  to these churches like they were to Jesus on the hills of Judea in ancient times. People will experience true love, be built up, and be truly edified. Many people will come because they no longer have to make a ridiculous choice between science and faith—meaning both can be embraced in the church. Jesus, all of his words, and all of his deeds will be at the center of the church.

While the American church (writ large) will never be perfect in this world, because it contains imperfect people, the reformed American church of the 21st century will be a much better place than many American churches are now.  It shall be light years better and more loving than the pathological and pathetic Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches of today. Let us end this with some hope and something special:

 

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The LGBTQ Menace, Fundie Christians, and the Numbers

Jesus Had Two Dads

Some new research by faculty in the Department of  Political Science at the University of Kansas sheds some light on why Christian fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals, and some other Americans are so scared to death of gay Americans. The official title of the new study is Not Threat, But Threatening: Potential Causes and Consequences of Gay Innumeracy.  The authors are Dr. Don Haider-Markel and Dr. Mark Joslyn. You may be able to obtain a complete copy of their study (or at least find directions to a copy to read) by contacting them at the their following University of Kansas e-mail addresses: prex@ku.edu and mjozz@ku.edu

The American people in general (including the members of religious and nonreligious  anti-LGBTQ groups) are really bad at guessing the percentage of gay Americans in the total population of the United States, which is about 320,000,000 people.  In other words, they think the American population contains far more gay people than it really does.  A better term might be vast hordes.  Get a load of the numbers set forth in a recent article on this new study by Joanna Hlavacek at Lawrence Journal-World.

In the famous 1948 Kinsey sex study, researcher Alfred Kinsey estimated the gay population of the United States to be 10 percent of all Americans.  In a 1977 Gallup poll, a participant sample of Americans thought that 13 to 19 percent of the American population is gay.  In a 2013 survey by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, the participant sample of Americans thought on average that an incredible 23 percent of the American population is gay.  How many Americans is that?  The American people think 73,600,000 people in the U.S. population are gay.  You read that right.  They think nearly one out of ever four Americans is gay.  They think that a vast, Genghis Khan-like horde of the American population is gay!!!

No wonder Christian fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals, and other anti-LGBTQ people think gay Americans are a huge menace to their Christian faith, religious freedom, and way of life.  Irrationally, they have talked themselves (or someone has talked them into) believing that a fictional vast horde army of gay people is threatening them and their way of life.  That is just incredible—especially when you look at the truth.

Here is the truth.  In 2014, based on a poll sample of about 35,000 people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that only 3.5 percent of American adults self-identify as gay.  In other words, only a piddly 3.5 American adults out of every 100 American adults is gay.  Does that look like a vast attacking horde to you?  Let us hope that one day the Christian fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals, other anti-LGBTQ Americans, and the American people in general will find a way to face facts rather than deal with issues in terms of irrationality, manufactured fear, loathing, prejudice, bigotry, and unloving, unmerciful hearts divorced from the words, deeds, and heart of Jesus. Remember this scripture from the Bible:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

You may read the entire journal article by Ms. Hlavacek by clicking on the following safe link:

Synoptic Journal Article on American Gay Population

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Some Crazy Fundie Odds and Ends

church-for-sale

Living in Post-Christian America

In the realms of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism today, one of the popular things to do is declare that we all live in—catch the term—Post-Christian America.  A statement like this is usually prompted by the latest statistics indicating that ordinary Americans are less religious than they were some stated number of years ago and that Americans churches are losing members to the atheists, agnostics, and nones, (meaning people with no current religious affiliation).

While such losses are indeed occurring across the board, we think the term Post-Christian America is in some ways a hallmark of fundie spiritual pride, arrogance, and conceit. Christian fundamentalists and some conservative evangelicals believe that they, and they alone, are the only “true” Christians left in the United States. In other words, the word Christian applies to them only. Therefore, if people are buying less of what they are selling and members are leaving their churches, then this must somehow be Post-Christian America.

Just to blow the lid off this fundie lie, we must advise you of the results in the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study for 2017, which is based on a sample size of 35,000 people from all 50 American states. According to this study, 45.4 percent of the American population of about 320,000,000 is Mainline Protestant, Historically Black Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox Christian, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Other Christian. Another 25.4 percent of Americans are Evangelical Protestant. According to the PEW total, 70.6 percent of Americans are Christians. While Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are included within the 25.4 percent Evangelical Protestant category, we hasten to point out that many Evangelical Protestants are neither Christian fundamentalists nor conservative evangelicals. They are called Progressive Evangelical Protestants. Furthermore, a number of Historically Black Protestants are classifiable as Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. However, the Pew Research Center’s bottom line is that 70.6 percent of all Americans are Christians.

How do you have a Post-Christian America when 70.6 percent of all Americans are still Christians?  You enter The Twilight Zone where a portion of the fundie mind resides. The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do that by claiming that Mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, many Historically Black Protestants, and Other Christians are not “true” Christians like the fundies. By slyly cutting all of those American Christians out of the Christian pie chart, the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals suddenly make up less than 25.4 percent of all Americans vs. more than 74.6 percent brazen American heathens.

Clearly, this is not Post-Christian America because 70.6 percent of all Americans today are Christians. The term Post-Christian America is a bold-faced lie being propagated by Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals as part of their self-serving “oh woe is us” narrative—knowing full well that Americans in general tend to sympathize with any group that can successfully paint itself as an underdog. If they were to look Jesus in the eyes and tell the truth, it would be more accurate to say that they are living in Post-Fundie America.

Doctrine of Separation

Many Christian fundamentalists are required to practice the doctrine of Separation from Sinners in this life here on Earth. However, I do not see how this is possible when Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as much as we do ourselves in Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12-30-31. No person can truly love their neighbor in that way if they must perpetually reject and shun their neighbor. Truly loving someone requires a goodly measure of personal relationship with that person through time.

In addition, the Bible says that we Christians are all still sinners even after we have been saved by grace through repentance and  belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (I John 1:8-10). Therefore, the fundamentalist Christian is required by fundie doctrine to perpetually reject and shun himself. How do Christian fundamentalists manage to avoid getting in the car and going grocery shopping with themselves? How do they avoid spending an evening with themselves? How do they avoid accompanying themselves on trips to the bathroom? How do they avoid spending a night in bed with themselves? How do they separate from themselves when they are always with themselves throughout their lives? It seems to me that the cognitive dissonance here must be enormous.

Sure. The fundies claim a number of scripture verses for their doctrine of separation, and they note that the ancient Jews were required to keep themselves separate from their heathen neighbors. But you know what famous sociologist and anthropologist Emil Durkheim observed about human cultures and the cultural things people do. There is the official reason the culture states for doing a particular thing, and then there is the unstated, parallel, underlying real reason the culture does a particular thing. Preventing a fundie church member from being drawn into sin is the surface, officially stated fundie reason for the doctrine of separation from sinners. But what is the unstated, underlying real reason Christian fundamentalists practice the doctrine of separation?  I think the fundie church leaders are scared witless—not so much of sin entering a church member’s life—-as they are of their church members learning the unvarnished truth about their belief system.

Deep inside themselves, in a dark little room they almost never visit, the fundie leaders know that their belief system is weak and filled with inconsistencies, discrepancies, and conundrums that make no sense. Any intelligent and well-educated outsider who knows their Bible well; knows the ancient cultures of Judea, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean world; and knows the detailed history of the Christian faith can turn a double-barreled shotgun on their fundie belief system and blow it to smithereens with one truth after another—Blam!!!  Blam!!!  Blam!!!—right before the eyes of the average fundie church member.  This is especially true for any church member who has not been thoroughly brainwashed for many years inside a fundie church.

Many fundie pastors know this and desperately try to keep their church members away from outside bearers of truth so they can maintain dictatorial control over the church and its people—to protect the fundie system and to protect their own well being.

How do they do this?  From birth, they teach their church members that all nonfundie outsiders are evil and dangerous sinners. They teach them that even the slightest microscopic deviation from the strict doctrines and beliefs they have been taught may be enough to send their souls into the Lake of Fire to burn forever in pitiless and excruciating pain that will never end. They teach them that any steady, long-term relationship with an outsider may cause such a deviation, which they naturally define as sin. In other words, any outsider who knows the factual and spiritual truths about many of their phony doctrines and beliefs is a real risk to point out the glaring holes in their belief system and pull a fundie person and their family out of the fundie church. That means a loss of prestige and power for the fundie pastors and other church leaders, a loss of tithes and offerings, and a lowering of their salaries. It also poses the risk that the leaving person will take other church members and their purses with them when they leave. Thus, when push comes to shove, the doctrine of separation from the world is really all about a massive glob of manufactured fear and a massive avoidance of facts and truths to protect the fundie belief system and the church leaders who benefit the most from it.

I Will Pray for You

Do Christians pray for each other and pray for the benefit of nonChristians? Mainline Christians, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox Christians do that all the time and without any malicious intent.  Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do too—in their better moments when they are not seething with malicious intent.  However, we are going to briefly discuss those numerous moments when the fundies use the sentence “I will pray for you” as a malicious code phrase within their fundie code-word system.

Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals often get into heated arguments with nonfundie Christians and nonChristians about various Christian faith, Holy scripture, religiopolitical, and behavioral issues. This happens often in on-line discussion forums, on faith blogs, and in the comment sections at the ends of on-line newspaper stories and magazine articles. If a fundie is in an argument and being bombarded with so many facts and so much truth that she can no longer stand the heat in the kitchen, she will (in utter frustration and agitation) blurt out: “I will pray for you!!!” On the surface, this means the fundie has concluded that the nonfundie is so far over some edge that only direct prayer and the direct intervention of God himself can change their mindset. However, I and many other nonfundies see it as something different. We see it as the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical code phrase for the old extended middle finger and “F-Bomb You!!!”  We take it as the insult that it truly is, and the fundie doing it automatically loses any credibility that she might otherwise have in a debate or argument with a nonfundie. Why?  Mainline Christians and other nonfundie Christians take prayer as a serious matter—something that is not to be trifled with in this cavalier manner and something Holy that is not to be casually hurled around as an insult in a moment of dire frustration.

I have noted over the years that female fundies are far more prone than male fundies to using “I will pray for you” as a four-letter expletive of utter frustration. I am not sure why this is—other than the possibility that fundie women tend to be what they often self-describe as a “prayer warrior.”  In a fundie belief system that is well-known for treating its women as second class citizens and submissive, brainless slaves of the household, perhaps fundie women feel that prayer is one of the few real powers they still have left in this life. Thus, they feel it as a throwing stone more readily at hand in a moment of intense frustration.

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Something Hilarious

Creationism Debate

I ran into something hilarious while surfing on the Internet a few minutes ago.  It was on Yahoo! Answers, and it was stated by an unknown individual going by the handle name lifewhispers1. Although he/she stated it with regard to Christians in general, I thought it more aptly applies to Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, so I slightly revised his/her statement to reflect this. In particular, it focuses on and underscores the utter futility of engaging a Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical in an honest debate over just about anything that touches on the Christian faith. It is one of several reasons why I quit arguing religion with fundies long ago—realizing that it is like arguing with a tree stump. Here is my revised version of this hilarious quotation:

Debating a Christian faith issue with a fundie is rather like playing chess with a pigeon. It knocks over all the pieces, poops on the board, and then flies back to its buddies to claim victory.

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Sorry LGBTQ People and Fertile American Women

Religious Bigotry

How Christian Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals Operate

LGBTQ folks and American women who use contraception—you got screwed today by a policy decree from the Trump administration and the U.S. Department of Injustice—and you got screwed BIG TIME!!!  You may read about it at the following safe link:

Religious Liberty Memo

However, there is an easy remedy for this. You are not owned by a religion, an employer, or Donald Trump’s government. You, your relatives, and your many friends still have free will, American freedom, your rights as an American citizen, and free choice.

American Women

You do not have to work for the businesses and organizations that cite their religious freedom as grounds for refusing to pay for your contraception supplies through your employee benefit plans.  Just quietly line up a new job with a different company that will pay for your contraception supplies. Then—just walk out on your religiously reprehensible employer and never come back. If you so desire, you can do it without even giving him or her a two-week notice.  However, be sure to tell him why you are walking out. Tell him he can shove his anti-woman religious beliefs up the portion of his anatomy “…where the sun don’t shine.” When he sees a big portion of his work force walking out on him and he finds it nearly impossible to hire new female employees, maybe he will think twice about using his claim to religious freedom as a cynical tool to abuse women like you.

You men out there!!!  Love these women who are being discriminated against because they use contraception—and stand up for these women in private and in public.  If one of these religious-owner companies or organizations wants you to come in for a job interview, just tell them you oppose their policy of not paying for contraception for women and tell them you would not work for them if they were the last workplace on planet Earth.

There is no American law or regulation of any kind that requires you to stay at or work for any of these businesses and organizations that mistreat women by trying to impose their religious will on their employees in the name of their religious freedom  You do have a choice in this. Women. Leave these employers behind in a cloud of dust. Men. Do not ever walk in their doors to work for them or do business with them.  It is that simple.

LGBTQ Americans and Non-LGBTQ Americans

LGBTQ folks and other ordinary Americans.  Today, in effect,  the Trump Administration has given American businesses, organizations, and individuals a free license to discriminate against you on the basis of their religious beliefs because you have one or more identified sins in your life. They get to define what your sin is for you and determine your punishment—regardless of whether you agree with it. A Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical grocery store owner can refuse to hire you or sell you food if you are an LGBTQ American.  If you are a straight woman who has had a child out of wedlock, in their self-righteous fundie religious eyes, they can refuse to sell you a loaf of bread because in their eyes you were once a fornicating whore who gave birth to the little bastard you named Jennifer. Are you a known alcoholic?  They might not sell you a gallon of milk. Why?  You violated their religious standards, and now they can use their businesses and organizations to starve you and your family members as punishment for your unfortunate sins of addiction—and use their First Amendment claim to religious freedom as the cynical tool to do it.

What remedy do you have for this heartless discrimination?  First of all, you, your family members, and your friends do not have to shop at their businesses or deal with their organizations. You can ask your family members and friends to support you by doing all of their business with the competitors of these religious bigot firms. There is no American law or regulation of any kind that requires ordinary American citizens to do business with organizations that practice bigotry under the cover of religious freedom.

More importantly, this supposed right to discriminate against you based on their religion is not a matter of settled law.  That is why the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other similar legal organizations are filing lawsuits on behalf of clients in these few hours after this Trump policy was announced today. If you have the time and money, you can support the ACLU and these other organizations with your donations, or you can hire an attorney of your own and sue the pants off the first religious bigot businessman or organizational leader who tries to use their religion to empty your daughter’s stomach and nail her to a cross because you sinned against one of their religious beliefs.

Can you tell I am angry?  You bet I am!!!  None of these religiously bigoted businesses and organizations are going to get anymore business from my Mainline Christian family. As my fundamentalist Christian uncle used to say:

I would not give them a blade of grass if they were a starving goat grazing on a concrete pasture.

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Our Prayers and Thoughts

Hi everyone. The Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog is taking this moment to express our sincere condolences, sympathy, and empathy to the family members and friends of those individuals who were killed and wounded at the mass shooting in Las Vegas last night. At this same time, we offer the same condolences, sympathy, and empathy for the entire population of Puerto Rico, which is now suffering deaths, grave horrors, and incredible deprivation at the hands of a heartless American President who responded to the hurricane aftermath way too late with way too little. As he happily golfed, the suffering went on in spite of desperate pleas for help from local officials and residents in Puerto Rico—and the dire suffering still goes on today. Could this neglect have anything to do with the fact that most Puerto Rico residents are Hispanic Americans? You tell me.

If you live in close proximity to Las Vegas, it is my understanding that blood donations are needed to help the 527 wounded people—about 16 still in critical condition. Please give some blood if you can.  If one of your local churches is providing aid and assistance to the people of Puerto Rico, please give them a donation or go with them on an aid trip to help alleviate the suffering. You can also donate some dollars to the American Red Cross. Of course, please say prayers to Jesus for all of the dead and living who were sucked into these two awesome tragedies.  Thank you and God Bless You.

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Are Christian Fundamentalists Driving Our Country into the Dark Ages?

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Do you think Christian fundamentalists are driving the United States into the Dark Ages? Author Dakota O’ Leary thinks so, and she makes a really good case for it in an article that she wrote in February 2013. You may read her article by clicking on the following safe link:

Christian Fundamentalists Are Driving our Country into the Dark Ages

The only thing I disagreed with in her article is the faulty assertion that Christian fundamentalists should not be confused with American evangelicals. Actually, conservative evangelicals in the United States are very much like Christian fundamentalists and deserve to be lumped right in with them, as set forth in this other article.  Progressive evangelicals are quite different from both the conservative evangelicals and the Christian fundamentalists.

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