I hadn’t planned to cover this story: America’s Changing Religious Landscape: Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow by the Pew Research Center. It did get a lot of attention. The AP put out a piece that was picked up by news outlets around the world. Some papers, particularly those with ingrained secular agendas seemed gleeful.
The story was off topic. But Russ Breault saw it differently. The story made it to the Facebook page for Shroud Encounter. While linking to the AP story on AOL, Russ tells us:
A woman once told me she loves the Shroud because "It makes it real". Apparently more and more people are having a hard time accepting the reality of Christ and the ransom He paid for all of us on the cross. This is not a good trend. Be wary of tipping points. Our culture is fast falling away from its spiritual foundation. Pray that we as a nation return to our first love (Rev 2:4).
For stories like this I like to see what Get Religion is saying. Here is Julia Duin:
Most mainstream reporters took their cue from the report’s headline: Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow. They seemed unaware there’s been a ton of books out in the past seven years about increasing numbers of disaffected Christians – especially the young – who are leaving church. More on that old-news angle later.
To sum it up, the "nones" (2012 study found here) are still growing, other religions are up a bit or holding their own and mainline Protestants and Catholics are declining very, very fast. Evangelical Protestants, now the dominant stream of the nation’s Protestants at 55 percent, went down by less than 1 percent, hardly a “sharp” decline. But it took some scribes awhile to arrive at that important distinction.
Some of the headlines were almost celebratory about the nones who now “soar” as the Christians decline. Notice the headline on this RNS story, which gave a pretty evenhanded report on the survey and some good information on the “nones” ….
So what does this have to do with the shroud? What might it have to do …?