Will Hinton tagged me and a few others with a meme he’s started around the new book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters by Barna Group president David Kinnaman. The book is getting noticed — a brief article in Time says,
It used to be, says David Kinnaman, that Christianity was both big and beloved in the U.S. — even among its non-adherents. Back in 1996, a poll taken by Kinnaman’s organization, the Barna Group, found that 83% of Americans identified themselves as Christians, and that fewer than 20% of non-Christians held an unfavorable view of Christianity. But, as Kinnaman puts it in his new book (co-authored with Gabe Lyons) UnChristian, “That was then.”
Barna polls conducted between 2004 and this year, sampling 440 non-Christians (and a similar number of Christians) aged 16 to 29, found that 38% had a “bad impression” of present-day Christianity. “It’s not a pretty picture” the authors write.
America is fast on its way to becoming post-Christian, like many other Western countries… more info on the book website. So the meme goes basically like this: List four things about Christians: three negative perceptions and one thing that Christians should be known for.
- Christians are judgmental. This extends beyond Christians merely condemning others to them being generally unaccepting of others who aren’t like them. These are people who seem to be genuinely scorned. There’s a lot of the are-you-in or are-you-out kind of thinking with Christians.
- Christians have a lot of “don’t” rules. Or rather, “thou shalt not” rules whereby Christians are known mostly for what they don’t do or don’t believe… as though it’s merely a religion of protest. In general, Christians are going to disagree with everything and want to shut down the party. They’re always negative, against things instead of for things.
- Christians are out of touch. They don’t care about the environment, they don’t treat women as equals, and they want to be cloistered away on their own away from the modern world around them. They just don’t seem to care about what’s going on in the world.
- Love. One thing, pure and simple. Love that accepts and does not condemn, is gentle and not haughty, is concerned and not indifferent, is passionately active, not laissez-fare.
I was honoured to be tagged in the company of The Evangelical Outpost, The Jollyblogger, The Internet Monk, and Daniel Larison, so there should be responses forthcoming on each of their sites, and I want to selectively tag two men and two women whose thoughts I’d like to hear on this question… ladies first. Emerging Grace, Julie Clawson, Will Samson, and Rob McAlpine. If you aren’t on the list, feel free to jump in anyway, linking or tracking back on your own blog or just go for it in the comments here. How are Christians perceived, how should we be… and most importantly, how do we get from here to there?