Dark Visions of the Future
The percentage of Americans who identify as Christian was 90% in 1972. However, a 2022 report by the Pew Research Center predicted that, at its current rate of decline, Christianity could see its share of the American population shrink from just over 60% today to 35% by 2070; a precipitous fall over the course of a century, and part of the reason for panic in radical-right Christian circles. We could rightfully ask if Christianity has a future. But a better question is, what is Christianity’s vision of the future?
The White Christian Nationalists and their conspiracy-addled spokespeople on Fox news tell us that the declining number of Christians supports their racist Great Replacement Theory. But the truth is closer to home. It turns out that 31% of children raised as Christians choose to become unaffiliated with the church between the ages of 15 and 29. Institutional Christianity is shrinking because people are choosing to leave. They don’t see a future in the church. So, what is the Christian view of the future?
It is a difficult question because Christianity encompasses such wide variations in belief and practice. The transformation of Christianity into a political faction over the past several decades also complicates understanding the full range of Christian beliefs and values.
A local church in my neighborhood saw radical changes in its constituency over five years as it welcomed transgender and LGBTQ people into its congregation. Embracing Matthew 25:35, it found itself shunned by other churches. You know, the section of the gospel I refer to: When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty, you gave me water. When I was homeless, you took me in. When I was sick, you cared for me. When you have done this for the least of your brethren, you have done it for me. This particular church’s vision of the future encompasses the classic American ideal of individuals pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Radical rightwing evangelicals and Christian Nationalist legislators provide a polar opposite viewpoint, seeking to shun queer folk, calling for the eradication of transgenderism, and seeking to exert government control over who a person can love. The phrase “eradicate transgenderism” sounds very dark, even though those…