Predictions about the decline of Christianity in America may be premature

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Saint Patrick Cathedral in NY

Analysis by John Blake, CNN

Updated 3:49 PM EDT, Sat April 8, 2023

The cross, and the empty tomb.

Both Christian symbols are bookends to the Easter story. One symbolizes the tragic execution of Jesus while the other represents the Christian belief in his resurrection, and the claim that death does not have the final word on him or his followers.

As millions of Americans celebrate the holiest day in the Christian calendar on Sunday, most will hear some variation of this Easter message — finding new life in unforeseen places.

But that message could also describe a surprising prediction about the future of Christianity in the US.

For years, church leaders and commentators have warned that Christianity is dying in America. They say the American church is poised to follow the path of churches in Western Europe: soaring Gothic cathedrals with empty pews, shuttered church buildings converted into skate parts and nightclubs, and a secularized society where one theologian said Christianity as a norm is “probably gone for good — or at least for the next 100 years.”

Yet when CNN asked some of the nation’s top religion scholars and historians recently about the future of Christianity in the US, they had a different message.

They said the American church is poised to find new life for one major reason: Waves of Christians are migrating to the US.

And they said the biggest challenge to Christianity’s future in America is not declining numbers, but the church’s ability to adapt to this migration.

Joseph P. Slaughter, a historian and assistant professor of religion at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, says people have been predicting the extinction of Christianity in the US for over two centuries, and it hasn’t happened yet.

A sparsely attended Good Friday mass in Cologne,  Germany, on April 2, 2021.

A sparsely attended Good Friday mass in Cologne, Germany, on April 2, 2021.Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

He pointed to Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation’s founding fathers, who predicted in the 1820s that Christianity would be replaced in the US by a more enlightened form of religion that rejected Jesus’ divinity and belief in miracles.

Instead, Jefferson’s prophecy was followed by a series of revivals, including the Second Great Awakening, which swept across America and reasserted Christianity as a dominant force in American life.

“I’d never bet against American Christianity — particularly evangelicalism,” Slaughter says, “and its ability to adapt and remain a significant shaper of the American society.”

Read further

Suggested reading for living in the image of the Loving and the Most Merciful God by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times:

Thirty Plus Quotes from the Poet of Love

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

A Message of Compassion and Love from the Holy Bible

True Fasting: A Message of Compassion and Love from the Old Testament

Abou Ben Adhem, A Compassionate Man

‘Love Hormone,’ How it works in Hospitality?

‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin May Enhance Feelings Of Spirituality

I am a Jew, a Catholic, a Christian and a Muslim; I am Zia H Shah

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