In our sobering world of falling stock prices, Euro Zone debt problems, high unemployment, revolution and change in the Middle East, and great uncertainty on the horizon, I’ve got some good news for you.
God is quietly building a remnant in The United States.
I say “quietly” because it seems to have happened quite unnoticed by the powers that be. Kind of like the fall of the Iron Curtain that changed the world in 1989–or the shift of global Christianity that has gone south and west during the past few decades as chronicled in my book The Fourth Wave.
Another movement has also come in under the radar.
America is becoming born-again. The largest single minority group in the United States is now evangelical Christians for the first time in its history.
It was my dad that first alerted me to this phenomenon by forwarding a very interesting interactive map called “The Topography of Faith.” It’s an extensive survey done by USA Today and the Pew Research group on religious affiliation in America.
What caught my eye was the growth of evangelicalism in the United States. This interests me because my own story is found in this narrative.
I grew up in that religious part of America that was previously the largest minority–the mainline churches. They include Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational etc. But in my teenage years, my own church turned away from the teachings of the Bible and went liberal.
That’s when I became “born again”–repenting of my sins and putting my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. This inner change of heart and mind and empowering of the Holy Spirit changed my life’s trajectory and produced a strong desire to share my faith with others.
That’s the basic definition of an evangelical: One who believes the Bible so much that he or she actively shares their faith. The word “evangel” means to herald or share Good News.
Evangelicals have been around for awhile. I currently serve on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) which was started in 1942. We recently held our bi-annual meeting in Washington D.C. where we shared the privilege of meeting on the floor of the US House of Representatives (thank you Congressman Randy Forbes and staff) where we learned that the largest caucus in the United States government is now the prayer caucus with over one hundred members.
Later in the week, twelve of our number met for twenty-five minutes with President Obama at the White House. We dialoged with him on five different areas of concern for people of faith. This was our first official meeting with the POTUS in his three years in office.
Evangelicals have a long history in our nation–but we’ve never been the largest group.
In the beginning of the 21st century, we’ve quietly achieved that status.
Here’s the map that my father forwarded it to me. You can click on it in a moment and see for yourself–but first first allow me to share a few interesting findings.
THE BIG PICTURE
Bible-believing, faith-sharing Christians now make up 26% of the US population. That makes them the nation’s largest minority. Catholics come in second at 24% (and some of them are born-again) and mainline Protestant churches come in third at 18% nationally.
Unaffiliated or secular folks come in at 16%. This is a growing percentage, but no where near the faith-based portion of America. Two percent are Jewish, and one percent are either Muslims and Buddhists.
When you add up all the Christian folk who believe in Jesus, the total comes to 75%.
No wonder the US Congress today affirmed America’s true national motto: In God We Trust. Make sure you make that known when the ACLU comes knocking to tell you to take down your crosses or take the Christ out of Christmas.
Tell them they are free to express their opinion–but we believe in majority rule.
Guess which state has the highest percentage of evangelicals? Can you say “Oklahoma is OK!”
Actually Oklahoma and Arkansas are tied at 53% evangelical–but the Sooner state has a total faith in Jesus of over 84%. That’s the largest in the land.
No wonder those Okie football players are always praying on the field and lifting their fingers to heaven. It’s a part of their faith and spiritual DNA.
MOST UNCHURCHED REGION?
We’ve been told for years that the Pacific Northwest is the least churched region of the nation. In fact they brand the west coast the “left coast” for its liberal political leanings.
But say it ain’t so! In my home state of Washington, evangelicals are the largest group at 25%. In Oregon it’s even higher at 30%.
Then there’s California which has 18% evangelicals, but a total Christian population of 63%. Catholics are the largest group in California due to the growth of the Hispanic population, clocking in at 30%. But Hispanic churches are the fastest growing ones in America, and like Latin America, many Catholics are becoming born again.
As I point out in my new book The Fourth Wave, Latin America was a sleepy Catholic continent for hundreds of years. If you’d asked people in 1900 if they knew Jesus personally and were born again by his Spirit, about 60,000 hands would have been raised.
But if you ask that same question in 2011, then sixty million hands would go up! Not bad multiplication in just one hundred years. I will be speaking in Puerto Rico in a few weeks and Colombia after that. Both were Catholic colonies for decades. Today, both nations are nearly forty percent evangelical.
But back to the point. The Pacific Northwest has a significant evangelical population. And California has the quickly multiplying Hispanic churches. (I spoke to thousands of Hispanic Christians recently at a church in Los Angeles. The four services were vibrant and packed.)
Maybe the Left Coast can become the Christ Coast of the USA. Something to definitely pray about.
THE SOUTH RISES–AMERICA’S REAL BIBLE BELT
You probably guessed that it’s the South that contains the largest percentages of evangelicals:
- We already mentioned OK and ARK at 53%. But there’s more:
- Tennessee at 51%.
- Alabama and Kentucky at 49%.
- South Carolina at 45%and North Carolina at 41%.
- Georgia at 38% and Texas at 34% (total Christians in the Lone Star State are 81%).
- Louisiana at 31%, and in Florida, Catholics and evangelicals make up 51%.
I have said and believed for years that the faith and principles of the South that have kept America on a godly course for much of the 20th and 21st centuries. The North won the war against slavery. But so far the South is winning the war of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
PRAY FOR THE NORTHEAST
The most barren evangelical region of the United States is not the Northwest or Southwest, but rather the place where America’s evangelical revivals took place over two hundred years ago–the Northeast corner of the nation. On the eastern seaboard, from Maryland to Maine, no state has an evangelical population higher than 15%–and generally the farther north you go, evangelical faith dies out (with the exception of Maine).
Pennsylvania has an 18% evangelical population–and 79% of its total population believe in Jesus. New York is a little lower at 11% evangelical and 71% Christian.
The Midwest is a mixed bag–but generally has more evangelicals than the Northwest.
We need to pray for the states of New England. May revival winds blow where they once fiercely swirled.
Despite this good news about the growth of evangelicals in America, there is still much to be done in these United States of America. But we are truly a Christian nation when it comes to our overall faith and our largest minority group–evangelicals.
In light of the dark clouds on the horizon, has God quietly been doing a work in our land that may be crucial for us to survive and thrive in the coming days? Is he building a remnant of people who can help the nation and world find its God in the 21st century?
Only God knows and he never tells.
But be encouraged.
The faith of our fathers is becoming evangelical.
(If you haven’t gone to the web-site yet, CLICK HERE and enjoy. Just move your cursor over the map and it will give you the statistics for each state. Look at your home state and pray for it and others as God leads you.)