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Faith on the Hill

Over at First Thoughts, Joseph Knippenberg notes a pew reasearch report on the religous composition of the 112th Congress.

This report provides an interesting picture of the religious landscape of the new Congress, and even compares it with its predecessors.  The authors note that Protestants are overrepresented in Congress, by comparison with their share of the population as a whole, and that the religiously unaffiliated are substantially underrepresented.  Among Protestant denominations, the "old line" (Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians, for example) are overrepresented, and Baptists and Pentecostals are underrepresented.  Over the long term, old line denominations have lost "market share" in Congress, while Baptists and Catholics have been among the big gainers.  The "most overrepresented" groups are (in order) Episcopalians, Jews, and Presbyterians.

Meanwhile, Russell Moore considers why nondenominational churches are the fastest growing in the country:

Are we witnessing the death of America's Christian denominations? Studies conducted by secular and Christian organizations indicate that we are. Fewer and fewer American Christians, especially Protestants, strongly identify with a particular religious communion--Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc. According to the Baylor Survey on Religion, nondenominational churches now represent the second largest group of Protestant churches in America, and they are also the fastest growing.

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All of this is subject to my memory.

A few years back there was a book by a couple of sociologists called, "The Churching of America", which looked at how church attendance tracked through history. It's been awhile, but their among their conclusions was that the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening (and maybe even the Pentecostal revivals (of the early 1900's?) ) did less to actually boost church attendance than to move it from lifeless denominations to new denominations run by, if you will, people who actually believed what they were preaching.

I should've drawn some conclusions in my last post, but I'm not exactly sure what they would be.

I suspect that the presence of members of a Protestant denomination is a trailing indicator of its size in the population and it is only after long years of consolidation and adaptation, or even surrender, to the surrounding culture that its members move into the political arena.

Quite a number of denominations are in wretched condition, the Catholic Church most obtrusively. However, I think the only notable denominations you could say are shells where a Christian idiom is used to traffic in what is an inchoate therapeutic ideology would be the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is also badly infected. Collectively, about 15% of American protestants are members of these bodies.

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