Interesting Facts from 2007

The following is excerpted from Warren Cole Smith of the Evangelical Press. He offers "some of the more interesting, peculiar, and downright strange statistics uncovered in 2007.”

God? Yes. Religion? No.
According to a Gallop poll released in June, more than 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God. But only 46 percent of respondents said they had either a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in organized religion. The figures are among the lowest for institutionalized religion in the three and a half decades that Gallup has conducted the poll. The numbers have been in steady decline since peaking at 68 percent in May 1975.

Marriage Messes.
According to new United States Census Bureau figures, more than half of all couples throw in the towel before their 25th anniversary. The Census Bureau looked at couples that would have celebrated their 25th anniversaries since 2000. “Those who married in the (late) 1970s apparently have much more fragile marriages than we realized,” said Mike McManus of Marriage Savers. “In my view, the church is doing a very poor job of helping couples prepare for a lifelong marriage or to enrich existing ones, or to save troubled ones.”

Inerrant, or Uncertain?
Protestants are most likely to credit the Bible as the inerrant word of God, according to a Gallup Poll. The rest of the population largely said the Bible might be inspired by God, but not literally so. Gallup has been asking the question since 1991, and the answers remain mostly unchanged. About 31 percent said they believe the Bible is infallible. Forty-seven percent said they see the Bible as the inspired word of God, but not to be taken literally.

Young People More Conservative.
On controversial social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, America's young people continue to track conservative, according to a poll by The New York Times, CBS and MTV. The survey collected opinions of 17- to 29-year-olds. Sixty-two percent said abortion should be outlawed or restricted. Danielle Huntley, a student at Boston College Law School and president of Students for Life of America, said she's proud her peers are not buying into liberal rhetoric. Fifty-four percent of young adults expressed opposition to same-sex marriage.

As The Romans Do.
The Roman Catholic Church remains the largest church in the U.S. according to the 2007 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, released March 5. This annual report, issued by the National Council of Churches, has data for 2005 that was reported by the denominations during 2006. The Catholic Church, with 69.1 million members, grew by 1.94 percent in 2005, making it not only the largest but the fastest-growing church in the country. Other fast-growing religious bodies included the Assemblies of God (1.86 percent) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1.63 percent). The population growth rate of the U.S. is about 1 percent per year.

Americans Generous,
But Less So Now.

An annual study of church giving shows most church money goes to activities within the congregation collecting the money. Only a small percentage goes to outreach, evangelism, or benevolence activities outside the congregation. Sylvia and John Ronsvalle of Champaign, Illinois-based Empty Tomb Inc., released their 16th annual study on church giving in 2007. They say that Christianity in the U.S. is becoming a “maintenance organization” that—if trends continue—soon will be spending 100 percent of its resources on maintaining its current programs and activities. The study finds that while donations to churches have increased 78 percent in real dollars since 1968, income has risen 116 percent over the same period. The average U.S. congregation member gave 2.56 percent of personal income to the church in 2004, a decline for the fourth straight year. That’s down 18 percent from 1968, and below giving levels from the early 1930s at the height of the Depression. Instead, Americans spend almost four times as much on entertainment as on church giving.

Dropping Out.
An estimated 1.2 million students dropped out of high school in the last year, which means only 70 percent of students who started high school four years ago earned a diploma. Lynn Olson with Education Week said the future of kids who drop out looks increasingly bleak. “These kids are looking at the prospects of earning, on average, $13,000 a year,” she said. “That’s certainly not enough to support a family and to thrive in today’s economy.”

Abstinence In, Teen Sex Out.
Teen-sex and pregnancy rates are down, according to a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) report released July 13. The NCHS study tracked trends among high school students from 1991 to 2005. In 1991, 54 percent of teens reported having had sexual intercourse. In 2005, that number dropped to 47 percent. The rate of teen pregnancy also showed a dramatic decline. Linda Klepacki, a conservative activist and expert on sexual health, said 1991 is a significant marker for a reason: It’s when abstinence education was adopted by some of the nation’s largest public school systems. “We have seen a continual decline since 1991, so we can infer that we’ve had an effect with abstinence education in our public schools,” Klepacki said.

Having It All Not So Great, Moms Say.
More and more working moms would rather be at home with their kids. Forty-eight percent of stay-at-home moms say they wouldn’t change a thing, according to a Pew Research Center study released this year. Although nearly 71 percent of American women work outside the home, it appears many of them aren’t happy about it. Cary Funk, one of the authors of the Pew study, said juggling work and family time is a tough act for most moms to pull off, and that those who do it most successfully have flexible schedules or job sharing arrangements.