The Decline of American Faith

The statistics don't lie: We are living in a post-Christian culture

It’s becoming more and more clear that we are living in a postmodern, post-Christian and post-Bible culture. Little by little, cultural forces have been denigrating the Christian faith. We are witnessing a worldwide shift toward apostasy and a rejection of Jewish and Christian morality based on the Bible.

The latest statistics from the American Worldview Inventory, a publication of the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University, make this very, very clear. Here are a few the trends you need to know about:

Millennials are losing faith

Categorized as ages 18 through 36, the Millennial generation is the one most responsible for the decline in faith among Americans. An astonishing 43 percent of this generation say they do not claim a religious faith. They reject the existence of God.

I wrote about this last fall, but the numbers have continued to drop. In my book Tipping Point, I referenced a 2015 Pew Research Center poll that found 35 percent of Millennials claimed no religious affiliation. Clearly that number is rising.

Remember, today’s Millennials are tomorrow’s political, cultural and business leaders. What will happen when a godless generation comes to power?

Christianity is losing influence

As recently as 1980, more than 90 percent of Americans claimed to be Christians. But by 1990, that had dropped to 80 percent. The decline gained even more momentum after 2000, and today only two out of every three adults claim the Christian faith.

According to the report, Americans are less confident about their beliefs than ever before:

Confidence in religion has shown a corresponding decline during that period. In the 1970s two-thirds of Americans had a high level of confidence in religion. The decline in such confidence began in the mid-1980s—the same time that the notable drop in alignment with Christianity started. By 2000 confidence in religion had fallen to 56%, and the drop has continued to this day. Today barely four out of 10 adults have a high degree of confidence in religion.

These bullet points representing answers to faith-related questions are particularly alarming. Things have shifted rapidly over the past three decades:

  • Belief in the existence of God as the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe who still rules the world today—86% in 1991 to 46% in 2021.

  • Belief that the Bible is the accurate and reliable word of God—70% in 1991; 41% in 2021.

  • Belief that when they die the respondent will go to Heaven only because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior—36% in 1991; 30% in 2021 (note: this measured as high as 45% and was 39% in 2011).

Belief in reincarnation is growing

The American Worldview Inventory says one of the most surprising shifts is related to renewed interest in reincarnation.

After a flirtation with that belief in the psychedelic 1970s, reincarnation barely registered as an eternal outcome in national surveys throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium. However, the past decade has ignited a new following for Eastern religious thought and practices, perhaps sparked by yoga, meditation, and the greater accessibility to information about Eastern beliefs and practices facilitated by new technologies.

Currently, 9% of adults believe they will be reincarnated. That proportion is likely to continue growing, given the twin outcomes of a decline in Christian beliefs and the fact that four out of 10 Americans (39%) believe that reincarnation is a real possibility for them.

Not surprisingly, 51 percent of Millennials seem to think reincarnation is a possibility. But this number is surprising: more than a third of self-identified Christians accept reincarnation as a possibility for them. And only 2 percent of Americans believe they will experience Hell after they die.

That means a lot of people will be very surprised about their fate in the afterlife.

Other religions are growing

Even though traditional Christianity is on the decline, the American Worldview Inventory identified two other faith segments that were growing. One was Islam:

While the Muslim faith had virtually no presence in the United States prior to the early 1990s (less than one-half of one percent of adults affiliated with Islam in 1991), that proportion has jumped in the past decade to nearly 3%. 

That percentage may seem small. But the recent growth rate of Islam in America has been even faster than the growth rate of Don’ts—those who do not identify with any religion.

Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism are also gaining traction:

Presently, nearly 5% of adults associate with an Eastern or New Age religion. While that is more than double the proportion measured a decade ago, it is also indicative of the current search for alternatives to Christianity. 

Part of that rise is due to the growth of the Asian population in America. But not all of it. 

This is the “falling away”

What does this mean for people like you and me? First, it means that the United States has become one of the largest mission fields in the world. In the past, you might have been able to assume that many of the people around you followed Jesus. That is no longer the case.

Our culture is desperate for hope and looking for it any place they can find it. They need you to point them to Jesus.

Secondly, it means that the “falling away” that Paul predicted before the last days is happening right before our eyes:

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”—2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

According to this passage, the Day of Christ will not come until society falls away from God. As I have written before, we are experiencing a “falling away” from faith like never before in the history of the world. We are witnessing a worldwide shift toward apostasy and a rejection of biblical morality. When people ask me for signs that we are getting closer to the Rapture and the return of Christ, the decline of faith is one of the clearest and most obvious.

This is already the most immoral and godless moment in human history. It will soon be the most severe time in history.