The Christian Science Monitor

Amid Evangelical decline, growing split between young Christians and church elders

Members of Christ Episcopal Church hold Sunday service in October 2016 in Bethel, Vt. Source: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

For Andrew Walker, the current “post-Christian” state of American culture has posed a serious challenge to the faithful.

For a variety of reasons, fewer and fewer Americans now have a grasp of the fundamentals of orthodox, biblical teachings, says Mr. Walker, director of policy studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Like many who keep attuned to the country’s religious landscape, he notes, too, the dramatic rise of the so-called “nones,” especially among the young, who may believe in God, but have begun to refuse to identify with a particular religious group.

“They grew up in a nominal Christian culture, where it’s no longer of a cultural or social benefit to identify as a Christian,” he says. “To add to that is, there’s often not only no social prestige to gain, there’s also social prestige to lose, if you say you are a Christian in our society.”

It’s one piece of a cultural shift that has begun to affect even the nation’s most vibrant religious groups. The Southern Baptist Convention, one of the more conservative evangelical Protestant denominations, has lost more than a million members over the past decade. Still the largest single religious group in the nation with more than 15 million members, its network of churches nevertheless haven’t baptized so few a number of people in 70 years, the denomination’s research shows.

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