This book examines the state of Christianity in the United States, considering trends in religious beliefs and affiliation over the last forty years. It seeks to explain why so many of America’s largest denominations have witnessed such a dramatic decline during this period. It argues that, although there are many elements to this decline, the shrinking families of Americansincluding American Christiansare a primary explanation for our aging and shrinking Christian congregations.
Beyond establishing this explanation for organized decline, this book also offers a survey of the relevant research explaining why more and more Americans are deferring family formation and having fewer (in many cases, zero) children. It discusses the relevant social science research on this subject, which focuses heavily on the role of economic change. It also summarizes the relevant research on cultural change and the family, particularly the relationship between religious beliefs and activities and changing family norms.
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About the Author
George Hawley is assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The State of Christianity in America
Chapter 2: Demographic Transition: What We Know
Chapter 3: Economic and Technological Causes of Demographic Transition
Chapter 4: Cultural Causes of Demographic Transition
Chapter 5: Why People Abandon Christianity
Chapter 6: Family Patterns and Denomination Decline
Chapter 7: Diversity, Devotion, and Politics: Other Explanations for Denomination Decline
Chapter 8: Denominational Divides in American History and Today
Chapter 9: The Roman Catholic Church
Chapter 10: Baptists
Chapter 11: Methodists
Chapter 12: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Chapter 13: Lutherans
Chapter 14: Presbyterians
Chapter 15: Episcopalians
Chapter 16: Pentecostals
Chapter 17: Conclusion