Is Everybody Religious?
On Tuesday the Daily Beast website announced the latest Gallup poll findings with this headline, “Gallup Survey Finds a Majority of Americans Still Religious.” Based on 300,000 interviews the survey found that seven out of ten Americans consider themselves “moderate or very religious.” That’s 70% of this nation! The Gallup research “shows basically what American religion surveys always show: the country is overwhelmingly religious, with a very slowly increasing number of nonbelievers, and a slightly faster increase in ‘unbranded’ religious believers” (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/12/04/gallup-survey-finds-a-majority-of-americans-still-religious.html). “Overwhelmingly religious”—is this cause for celebration? Frankly, I’m grateful for every American heart (or non-American, for that matter) that seeks to find solace and security, even salvation, in God and/or faith. Why wouldn’t that be reason to be grateful? Naturally, none of us knows each other’s soul, and so no one is in a position to determine how many of these seven out of 10 are genuinely entrusting their lives to the Divine (however their religion or faith understands and describes God). But stay with this thought for a moment. A globally influential nation with a strong majority populace that considers itself “moderate or very religious” would be amenable (or susceptible), would it not, to overtly religious appeals or persuasion? I.e., if God and faith are dominant in my worldview, an appeal to me to support or take certain action —if that appeal were based upon God and faith—would gain my attention and perhaps even guide my response. Most would agree that a nation with seven out of 10 of its citizens self-identifying as “moderate or very religious” is a society certainly open to religious appeal. And if that appeal were made by a respected individual or even institution, for 70% of Americans the appeal would be favorably weighted, I suppose. But lest you conclude that to be bad news, consider this. For the last semester we have revisited the biblical description of the apocalyptic endgame just before the return of Christ: “The Dark Night Rises,” “Three Angels, One Warning,” and now “The Morning Star Rises.” Two realities are clear—(1) the endgame will happen suddenly catching most earth inhabitants by surprise, and (2) the final showdown will devolve around worship, worship of the Creator or worship of a counterfeit image of the Divine. The good news is 70% of Americans may be very open to considering the religious appeal that the Creator and His “Three Angels” community of faith must make. Rather than assuming they will all be manipulated by a deceptive religious appeal, why not pray that in fact they will be favorably open to the divine appeal, “Come out of her My people” (Revelation 18:4)? So let the nay-sayers who are decrying a godless Christmas season cry on. You and I can instead pray on—on behalf of the 70% and the 100%—that the Christ who came that starry night long ago and who is yet to come one glorious Day soon—that He might grant to you and me the winsome appeal to reach out for Him, not only to the seven out of ten but to the ten out of ten! Why not?