The United States has the reputation of being a Christian nation. It is just assumed that the majority of Americans are Christians. But that depends on what your definition of Christian is.
One definition of Christian often used by polls is if a person answers yes to the question, “Do you identify as a Christian?” I have seen that the number of self identifying Christians in the United States ranges from 66% to 80%. The latest Pew Research Poll puts the number at 70.6%. From my personal experience that seems like a fair assessment. So with that definition the United States is a Christian Nation.
But calling yourself a Christian does not make you one. A genuine Christian is radically changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are marked with many new characteristics like love, joy, peace, giving, mercy, Bible study, and fellowship. For this article I am going to focus on two characteristics. Genuine Christians have a deep desire for Bible Study and fellowship with other believers.
Think of it this way, would you say that a man loves a woman if he doesn’t like her body and her mind? How can a person love Jesus if he doesn’t like Jesus’ body, i.e., fellowship with other Christians, church attendance, and small group meetings? How can a person love Jesus if he doesn’t like Jesus’ mind, i.e., the Bible, group and personal Bible study?
Many claim that around 40% of Americans attend church regularly. That would mean that the United States is not a majority Christian. In all the places I have lived, I have never seen a rate of 40% regularly church attendance, unless what you call regularly is attending once a year.
A 2005 study revealed that weekly church attendance of Americans is at 17.7%. Weekly attendance does not make you a Christian but it is a good sign. The number of people that attend two or more weekly services drop off to a third of that in my observations at 5.9%. Now there are some genuine Christians that only attend one service a week. It may be job, health or a lack of discipleship that hinders them from attending more often. That puts the genuine Christians in the United States at some where between 6% and 17%. That means that the United States is NOT a Christian Nation.
The majority (53% to 64%) of the United States is folk Christians. Folk Christianity is a thin veneer of Christian terminology slapped on top of a thick base of personal relativism. Sadly, the folk Christians are the ones that make the most noise. They are more concerned about boycotts, protests and passing special interest laws than about making disciples, which is a genuine Christian concern.
Be of good cheer, rejoice for even though genuine Christianity is a minority in the United States, Jesus is still Lord over all. His is able to save as many as come to Him.