The Protestant Implosion

Has anyone ever seen Michael Voris’ video ? According to him, the Protestant population is decreasing. He predicts that we Catholics are gonna be alone to face the future persecutions. Too bad he didn’t mention Non-Denominational types and their percentage. I wonder what percentage they were back then as opposed to today.

The protestant churches of the mainline variety are very old due to not reproducing. For example Episcopal, United Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutherans ( both flavors ) have between 56 to 62% of their members in the Over 50 year old demographic. By comparison the US population is 40% in the > 50 year old bracket.

However white US catholics are similar in their demographic.

Protestants such as baptists and non white catholic immigrant families both are having kids, the latter helps push the catholic over 50 years category down to a more normal 40%.

The video has no sound.

Never understood the fascination by Catholics of Protestants.

We have enough of our own problems so why worry about another religion.

All I get is a lot of HTML coding.

It’s not so much that there is a Protestant implosion. It is that there is a mainline Protestant implosion. Traditionally, Protestantism in this country has been like one house supported by two pillars, the mainline pillar and the evangelical pillar. Well, in recent decades, the mainline churches have gotten older, produced less children, and have pretty left pro-active evangelization to the evangelicals. As a result, the denominations that once contained a majority of American Christians are tiny minority religions. Evangelical, Pentecostal, and non-denominational churches continue to grow or hold steady.

I finally got the video to work, and as is often the case I dissagree with Mr Voris. He fails to diiferentiate between Protestants. There a large differences between them which Mr Voris ignores.

Some Protestants may be imploding mostly main-line. But the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists who have the bible as their authority are thriving.

Last time I checked, organized Christianity is declining overall in the US. This is true for Protestants and Catholics. I don’t think this is just a Protestant thing. Seminary graduations are at about 10% of what is needed to replace retiring priests, etc…

I think we will go through a period, maybe a generation, where being religious of any sort will " fall out" of fashion and people will think they don’t need God. During this time society will de-generate in many ways but eventually there will be a spring and the church will once again flourish. Perhaps driven by missionaries from Africa and Asia to the US and Europe.

My Orthodox Bishop said last night at a lecture hosted by a small parish, “The Church always changes based on necessity, not on a whim.” He meant this to refer to the change in the Orthodox practice (e.g. confession from public to private, the reception of communion by hand or orally, etc.), but I wonder if it applies to Protestant churches as well. Back during the Reformation, when you had to sort through the liturgical myre that broke out in the 1500s, names and creeds and figureheads (Wesley, the Archbishop of Cantebury, Calvin) were indispensible. Nowadays they are not, and the Protestant church has changed once more to get rid of these things. Mainline attendance goes down, non-denominational goes up I believe.

Generally Christianity in the Western world is declining and the rate of apostasy is increasing. In Catholicism it is very obvious if we look at the number of decreasing seminarians. More and more people become secular and the number of not practicing Catholics is indeed on the rise. There is even reverse trend now where instead of coming from the Western world, priests and missionaries are coming from Africa and Asia. This is something we need to think about.


I started a very similar thread sometime past

Protestants down to 52% from 60%…Hike…

George Weigel has had insight about the situation.

Speak for yourself - half my church is converts!

According to him, the Protestant population is decreasing. He predicts that we Catholics are gonna be alone to face the future persecutions. Too bad he didn’t mention Non-Denominational types and their percentage.

Or the Orthodox.

I spent 7 years in a non-denominational church and they may claim to have a lot of members but almost all
1-make an altar call
2-get baptized
3-get really involved
4-with in a year they are barley goIng because they are “saved”
5-then pretty much never go again with in. 5 years

While that may be your experience, this is really a generalization that I don’t think is very helpful. One could point out the many Catholics that only bother to show up to mass on Christmas and Easter. That would be a generalization too.


The Barna group study of this issue is consistent with the decline of mainline Protestant groups…

Since the 1950s, however, mainline churches have fallen on hard times, declining from more than 80,000 churches to about 72,000 today. The growth among evangelical and Pentecostal churches since the 1950s, combined with the shrinking of the mainline sector, has diminished mainline churches to just one-fifth of all Protestant congregations today. In the past fifty years, mainline church membership dropped by more than one-quarter to roughly 20 million people. Adult church attendance indicates that only 15% of all American adults associate with a mainline church these days.

There are a lot of logical problems with the video. Probably the most important is that there is really no monolithic theology that one can point to and call “Protestantism” (and thus blame the theology for the decline)–the phenomenon is simply too diverse for that. In Europe the numbers of both Catholics and Protestants are declining at more or less equally dizzying rates. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with either group’s theology.

The second point is that the percentage of the populace in the U.S. that is labelled “Protestant” also depends a great deal on demographics and rates of reproduction. Early in the history of the U.S. the vast majority of immigration was from northern European, largely Protestant countries. Of course more recently, people from predominantly Catholic, Muslim and Hindu backgrounds (Asia, Mexico, South and Central America) have immigrated to the U.S. Recently immigrant families also tend to be larger. And what few immigrants today are from northern European countries tend to be religiously non-affiliated. In terms of the percentage of the population, Catholics and Muslims have risen disproportionately because of these immigration patterns.

But the biggest flaw in the video is that Voris simply ignores the fact that like all of Christianity in the U.S., the Catholic Church is also in decline. It’s not like the religiously non-affiliated are all ex-Protestants and or that the Catholic Church is somehow mysteriously immune to growing secularism in the West. All in all, it’s sort of a race to the bottom. Who will shrink the fastest?

I spent some years in college in an agressively evangelistic non-denominational community and noticed something that may be related here. Of the 100 or so people in the group over that time, probably 48% of them grew up in a mainline protestant congregation, about 10% grew up in evangelical congregations and around 40% grew up catholic and converted. Maybe 2% had grown up in household in which God was ignored or not believed in at all.

I can’t say if my experience is representative, but I’d suspect that it is. If so, the numbers evangelicals are putting up really aren’t that impressive. They mostly aren’t converting the unbelievers to Christ, they are just reaping harvests that others sowed. Worse, as others here have noted, their brand of enthusiasm-based faith often is short lived and isn’t passed on well to children. In actual practice, it is often the exit ramp of christianity. Heck, even the founder of the so-called “Freedom From Religion Foundation” used to be an evangelical preacher (the self-appointed kind, not formally ordained by any congregation). The intention in those communities is clearly to convert the world to Christ. But my experience has been more that they convert nominal christians on the slow road to conversion into flash in the pan believers that quickly burn out.

I was under the impression that the Catholic Church is on the rise in the US. The polls from 2011 indicate this:

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s second largest denomination, reported a .42 percent decline in membership to 16,160,088 members, according to National Council of Churches’ 2011 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, released Monday.

Still dominating the list of the nation’s top 25 mainline churches is the Catholic Church, which posted a .57 growth at 68.5 million members.

But a few church bodies, regarded as cults by some Christians, continue to increase in size.

Ranked 20th in size, the Jehovah’s Witnesses denomination reported a 4.37 percent gain in membership, with 1,162,686 members total. Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which didn’t make the Top 25 list for at least the past two years, squeezed in the list this year in the 24th spot. The denomination – which observes the Sabbath on Saturdays instead of Sundays – now has 1,043,606 members, up 4.31 percent.


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