One of the most innocuous TV shows ever made was “The Flying Nun.” It starred a very young Sally Field as a Catholic Nun who, when the wind blew under her wide brimmed habit, could lift off the ground and fly. It was cute and a little unrealistic (nuns can’t fly). But at least it had some degree of Christian worldview and content (if you are too young to remember the show, check it out on the internet). You won’t see shows like that on network TV anymore.
Well, sadly, we no longer have “flying nuns”, but we now have“flying Nones.” Those are people who, when pollsters ask their religious affiliation, mark “NONE”. According to the most recent poll conducted by the respected Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, that group’s share of the American population has risen from 15% to 20% just since 2007. It also indicates that the number of people identifying themselves as Christians has dropped from 78% to 73%. Even more alarming is that the share of professing Protestants dropped from 53% to 48% in that same five year span. This means, if it is accurate, that for the first time in American history Protestants are not a majority. (see full report: http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Unaffiliated/NonesOnTheRise-full.pdf )
Now what does this all mean? Obviously it reveals several things about the current state of faith in this nation. For one, it shows that people who rarely or never attend church are admitting it more. In past generations most people, whether or not they ever darkened the doors of a church, would identify themselves by some religious or denominational label. So I think people are being more honest about their views. For too long, evangelicals have assumed that most Americans believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. We can no longer make that assumption.
Second, it further confirms the growing secularization of American culture. For the last 60 years or so an increasing number of people in this country have adopted a more naturalistic worldview. As the educational system has moved further from a theistic perspective it has indoctrinated students in Naturalism. We are now at a point where that trend is making a major impact on every area American life: the arts, science, politics, TV and movies (no more flying nuns), etc.
The report also indicates that as Christians seek to reach lost people with the Gospel it may require some changes in our strategy. Since fewer people in America have a Christian worldview we have to start where they are in their spiritual life (if they even have one). Our evangelism training should include worldview training making Christians more familiar with the ways other people see and interpret the world.
We at MarketFaith Ministries see what we are doing is cutting-edge for accomplishing that goal. Yes, the “Nones’ are flying all over the place. Maybe it’s time we got up there where they are to tell them about Christ.