Late last year vandals around Los Angeles tagged bus and billboard ads for the movie Marley & Me. The point of the tagging was not what you would expect, ie gang symbols or mustaches but rather to spoil the end of the movie by spray painting the words “The dog dies”. I have not seen the movie so I don’t know if the dog actually dies or not, plus there were reports that the whole campaign was a hoax and the dog actually doesn’t die.
In a somewhat related story, in March 2009 The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. released the results of its wide-ranging study on American Religious life. The report surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February to November 2008.
They found, among other things, that the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say that they have no religion at all. To be exact 15% of those surveyed said they had no religion at all, an increase from 8.2% in 1990. In fact the study found that the number of Americans with no religion rose in every state. The survey also found that Christians (not including Catholics) comprised 86% of US adults in 1990 compared with 76% currently.
Perhaps the most concerning finding was that about 12% of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents – 1.2% – said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Senteria.
These trends unfortunately do not seem to be exclusive to the US. Recently in the UK, as part of an initiative launched by a group called the National Secular Society, more than 100,000 Britons downloaded “certificates of de-baptism” from the internet to renounce their Christian faith. Add to this Michael Spencer’s recent “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” and its easy to see how, at least for the near future, things for Christianity may not seem especially bright.
Of course the good news is that the end of THIS story, much like the story of the adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog in Marley& Me, has been spoiled. No matter how many “certificates of de-baptism” are downloaded from the internet or how badly the popularity of Christianity is diminished we, as Christians, can rejoice in God’s Providence and the shed blood of his Son Jesus Christ who was sent to die for our sins.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,and then the end will come.
– Matthew 24:10-14