Bad news about the state of the world abounds. You could really become depressed just by reading the headlines. This applies to Christian news also. News like:
-American Christianity is on the brink of extinction.
-the church is losing our young people
-crime is increasing
-marriages are dissolving at a record rate
-Christians are Hate-Filler Hypocrites
-the Christian divorce rate is the same as the general populace rate
And the list goes on and on. Some of these statistics are even made by Christian authors.
But are they true? Remember that statistics can say almost anything the author wants them to say. It all depends on how the questions are asked and how the results are interpreted.
Mark Twain’s comment is pretty accurate. He said, “There are lies, there are damn lies and then there are statistics”.
Here’s a great example of an interpretation error:
You’ve often heard that the US divorce rate is about 50%. But how did they get this figure? They took the number of divorces in one year and divided it by the number of marriages in that year. Then they tell people that if you get married, you have a 50% of getting a divorce sometime in your marriage. Sounds good, right? Wrong!
This figure does not take into account people that have had multiple marriages and divorces. Think of the late actress Elizabeth Taylor, who had 8 marriages and 7 divorces. In the mid-1990’s, three researchers went out into then general public and did a survey. One of the questions they asked married couples was “Have you ever been divorced?” Only 25% of them had been divorced. But among those whom had been, there were usually multiple divorces. Since the mid-1990’s, the divorce rate has been going up but its still well below the 50% rate. Their survey, called “Sex in America”, was a shock to many Americans who had always heard differently.
I can heartily recommend two books to you that are written by a university sociologist who is also an evangelical Christian. These books are “Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told” and “Upside – Surprising Good News about the State of Our World”.
Dr. Bradley Wright is an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut where he researches American Christianity.
Rather than use smaller survey results, he uses the General Social Survey. Its been done every year or two since 1972. He also uses the American Religious Indentification Survey, the Pew Religious Landscape Survey, the Gallup Poll plus some other ones. You can buy these two books at Amazon and the eBooks at CBD.com (Christian Book Distributors).
Dr. Wright’s answers are backed up by a plethora of statistics, charts and graphs. You will be surprised at what his results are.
-Christians are often accused of saying that we love the poor but not doing anything about it. Is this true? Among evangelical Christians who attend church weekly, 54% gave money or food to homeless people or charities that minister to the poor compared to only 34% of those who never attend church. That’s a difference of almost 70%.
Christians believe that the Christian faith should, over time, change how people live their lives. Survey results show this to be true.
Dr. Wright has blogs at:
These books and blogs are also good for Christian apologists in defending certain aspects of our faith.
For His Kingdom,