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3 Ways Christians Can Be Like Jesus Amidst a More Polarized Culture

New data from Pew Research Center points to a growing ideological polarization in the U.S., and an opportunity for us to be like Jesus.

Yesterday morning, Pew Research Center published a new set of data from a recent study on Americans and religion. You may remember a similar study in May of this year called the “American Religious Landscape” survey. (For my take on those, see articles at CNN, USAToday, the Washington Post and here on my blog.)

The newest data confirms much of what the General Social Survey (the data I used in many of the above articles) shows. America is becoming more secular, but the faithful are remaining devout.

There is more than one thing going on, but a big part is that “nominal” Christians, the data shows us, are abandoning the “Christian” label more in the last seven years than they have before. As every single reliable researcher believes: The church isn’t dying.

In other words, there’s not a collapse of practicing Christianity, and that’s the headline of almost every story, though some people still won’t believe it.

But, take a look at the stories and their headlines such as:

Chrisitianity Today: Massive Survey Shows How U.S. Christians Changed from 2007 to 2014

While America’s “nones” keep losing their faith, a significant study finds that religious Americans are staying stable—and by some measures, even growing—in theirs.

Religion News Service: Pew study: More Americans reject religion, but believers firm in faith

Associated Press: Survey: Religious Americans Keep Faith Amid Secularization

There is a lot of shift in the data, but there is a continual drop in nominal Christianity, a relative stability in devout practice and an increasing polarization of society. I’ve written an edtiorial in the Washington Post about how we might deal with that reality. As I said in the Washington Post:

America is undergoing a religious polarization.

With more adults shedding their religious affiliations, as evidenced in the latest from the Pew Research Center, the country is becoming more secular. In the past seven years, using the new Pew data, Americans who identify with a religion declined six percentage points. Overall, belief in God, praying daily and religious service attendance have all dropped since 2007.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.