Church attendance may be dropping, the hookup and shack-up culture may be advancing, taking over where abstinence teachings and traditional marriage once reigned, but guess what, good news: according to Gallup, most in America still believe in God.
The question is, of course, which God — and what does that God teach?
After all, this is the era of the rise of the religious nones, as other polls have reported. Secularism in America is a growing trend.
But here’s what Gallup just reported: “Though a 2018 Gallup poll found that U.S. church membership has reached an all-time low of 50%, and one in five Americans does not identify with any religion, most of the country still expresses belief in God. Exactly how large that majority is, however, depends on how nuanced the response options are.”
Gallup posed the question three different ways in recent years and, perhaps not surprisingly, it was the direct question — the one worded simply, “Do you believe in God?” — that resulted in the greatest number of “yes” replies. In 2017, fully 87% of respondents said yes to that.
When Gallup convoluted the question, or provided qualifiers — “you are convinced that God exists” versus “you think God probably exists, but you have a little doubt,” for example — the number of believers seemed to drop, between 64% and 79%.
“The array of Gallup results leads to the conclusion that putting a percentage on Americans’ belief in God depends on how you define ‘belief,'” Gallup wrote.
And therein lies the skinny, right?
Because even the demons believe in God, as James in the Bible notes. But that doesn’t mean they’re biblical — or headed for Heaven.
Today’s society often looks at the love of God, but turns blind eyes to the teachings of God. Today’s culture embraces the concept of a Jesus who forgives, but angrily denounces the concepts of confession and repentance. Today’s churches frequently fail to preach on the pitfalls of sin.
So kudos to a country that still believes.
But warning on what that belief brings — on what these believers actually believe.
After all, believing in a “god” that rubber-stamps whatever a believer wills is hardly a belief in a higher power. That’s more a belief in self, a living for self.
There is a massive difference between God and “god.”
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ckchumley.
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