There’s little for us mainliners to celebrate in this new Pew study. We’re losing people, and fast. I appreciate Heidi Haverkamp’s realistic-yet-hopeful words here and Rob Rynders’ there. But, like them, I’m not interested in spinning an argument that the numbers are somehow lying.
The numbers are clearer, however, than the reasons for them.
In the current culture wars, religious liberals tend to ally themselves with the educational establishment against those on the Religious Right who are attacking the public schools. In politics and theology, I line up with the left. Nonetheless, I believe with the right that public education is hostile to religion—not least to liberal religion. The problem isn't the absence of school prayers.
This meditation on faith's fragility could not come at a better time. At once deeply personal and profound in its feel for how our culture settles into our hearts and minds, it puts to shame the sectarian champions of the culture wars, waged against "secular elites," and it confounds the academic experts who miss the religious resonance of our worldly experience.
Even after a century of Christian expansion worldwide, Europe still matters immensely in the map of the faith. According to the World Christian Database, Europe—including Russia—has 580 million Christian believers, which is more than a quarter of the global total.