Christians Find Their Voice Tackling Global Issues
Broader range of issues, less judgmental face inspires today's believers.
CHICAGO, June 20, 2010 — -- Could the so-called death of traditional Christian America in fact be a good thing ... for Christians? Young Christian activists who are calling for a renewal of their faith seem to think so.
"There's a new generation of Christians who are engaging the world in a different way, largely driven by the fact that we're in a different context than many Christians have had to live in, in quite some time," said Gabe Lyons, founder of Q. The website acts as a forum for people to come together and explore ideas about Christianity's role in a modern cultural context.
"Christianity, historically, has grown when it's been under pressure, when it's not been in this dominant power position," he said. "And so it's not a bad thing for us to be in a place where it's not just assumed that everyone's a Christian. It forces us to go deeper, it forces us to back to our roots."
In what some are calling "post-Evangelicalism," a revised Christian mentality is making its way into the public forum.
If these young Christians get their way, the future perception of Christians is not as a knee-jerk association with hot-button social issues, but as a largely nonpolitical association fighting for justice, equality and the common good.
The American Religious Identification Study released in 2009 reported that the percentage of people that identify as Christian fell 10 percent between 1990 and 2008, from 86 to 76 percent. And a 2010 poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that 26 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 say they are unaffiliated with a religion.
These types of statistics have pushed some believers to re-evaluate.
"I think it's forcing us to say, gosh, if we really want to be relevant in this time, how can we speak to the culture and to the world in a way that's going to actually make us relevant?" said Nicole Baker Fulgham of Teach For America.
Young Christians recently met at the Q conference in Chicago to talk about the future of their faith. When asked about the biggest issues of American life on their minds right now, they shot out answers including educational inequality, poverty, genocide prevention and nuclear non-proliferation.