Despite the terribly unfortunate (and incorrect, and provocative) name, "The End of Christian America" is a fantastic and informative article. You have to make it through the first several paragraphs until things really start to pick up:
Let's be clear: while the percentage of Christians may be shrinking, rumors of the death of Christianity are greatly exaggerated. Being less Christian does not necessarily mean that America is post-Christian. A third of Americans say they are born again; this figure, along with the decline of politically moderate-to liberal mainline Protestants, led the ARIS authors to note that "these trends … suggest a movement towards more conservative beliefs and particularly to a more 'evangelical' outlook among Christians." With rising numbers of Hispanic immigrants bolstering the Roman Catholic Church in America, and given the popularity of Pentecostalism, a rapidly growing Christian milieu in the United States and globally, there is no doubt that the nation remains vibrantly religious—far more so, for instance, than Europe.
Yes, let's be clear. Though the percentage of "self-identified Christians" apparently "fell" from 86% to 76%, that ain't a huge cultural shift - it just means they called more college students during this round of surveys or talked to folks too busy reading facebook to understand the question.
Seventy - six percent is not a minority number. But watch for the reactions: culture warriors on the right will feel validated in their "we're turning into a God-less society" mythology to keep whipping those flocks into frenzies.
Our problem has never been a lack of fervent belief. Our problem is generally a surplus of fervent belief coupled with a lack of religious literacy. Heck, my RSD students last year claimed they all went to church & read the Bible, tried to tell me what the Bible said about people like me, and overwhelmingly failed to name the first 5 books of the Old Testament or the 4 Gospels.
And there is no "Book of Gonzales," no matter how many 8th graders believe it.
You can tell me my beliefs will land me in Hell all you want, but if you get Noah and Moses mixed up, and somehow end up with only 6 commandments, up you may lack the credibility and fire and brimstone you had intended.
But the article reminded me of the most important book I read in 2008, Religious Literacy by Stephen Prothero, which is a must read for anyone interested in American religious history and education.
Or anyone interested in telling culture warriors on all sides to go to Hell.