America’s declining faith in pastors and churches

Religion holds powerful sway over people’s lives—but not always in ways we might expect. We typically imagine that the faithful check their brains at the church door and follow whatever dicta religious leaders offer. Maybe not. While religious belief represents the greatest influence on how people voted in our recent presidential election, the opinion of their pastors mattered far less to them, according to research by Barna. A third of adults said…

Where marriage is headed next

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, a Montana man came forward to tidy up the paperwork on his second wife. “It’s about marriage equality,” he explained. “You can’t have [gay marriage] without polygamy.” Others have said the same thing. Fredrik deBoer, for instance, made the case for polygamy in a widely read and much-discussed article for Politico. Most pundits have argued against plural marriage, but what’s curious is how.…

When Christianity is just another consumer choice

Personal taste and individual preference are fine for beer and hand cream, but what about faith? In 1838 American novelist James Fenimore Cooper lamented “the taint of sectarianism” that “lies broad upon the land.” When he was a still a child there were about 500 active Christian denominations. Today that number is over 40,000, and Wired magazine cofounder Kevin Kelly says, based on current growth, the number will rocket upwards of 260,000…

What’s the difference between prayer and a selfie?

American religious life is, probably more than we realize or wish to acknowledge, self-obsessed. When we pray, for instance, we’re usually thinking about ourselves and those closest to us, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research about the frequency and content of prayer. More than eight in ten pray for family and friends, while seven in ten pray for their own difficulties and problems. And three times as many people pray…