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By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Kenda Creasy Dean
It's the only academic book I've read that nearly brought me to tears. "Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church" is at once a complex and emotional story. Its contents are often hard to grasp, but when you do get them, they grab you hard — as if you're in the grip of a mighty wrestler's headlock.
Christianity Today recently documented the fact that America's churches are not only "failing to attract younger worshipers," but they are also "not holding on to the ones" raised in the church. Research studies indicate that "70 percent of young people leave the church by age 22" and that figure "increases to 80 percent by age 30." The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) revealed that the "percentage of Americans claiming 'no religion' almost doubled in about two decades" (8.1 percent in 1990 and 15 percent in 2008). Among the young (18 to 29 years old) the number doubled (11 percent in 1990 to 22 percent in 2008), with 73 percent coming from religious homes and 66 percent describing themselves as "de-converts." Consequently, according to the Southern Baptist Convention (America's largest Protestant denomination), church growth is not keeping up with the birth rate.
She writes, "Since the religious and spiritual choices of American teenagers echo, with astonishing clarity, the religious and spiritual choices of the adults who love them, lackadaisical faith is not young people's issue, but ours."
She adds, "American young people are unwittingly being formed into an imposter faith that poses as Christianity, but that in fact lacks the holy desire and missional clarity necessary for Christian discipleship."