by Craig Dunkley
Christianity is under attack in America, and it’s losing. Meanwhile, the Church is, in general, sitting out the fight and hoping the problem goes away.
Hope is not a strategy. It’s time to act.
Since its inception, the United States has been a predominantly Christian nation, though open-minded and founded on religious tolerance. Our sense of personal freedom and tolerance, backed by a thoroughly Judeo-Christian worldview, has contributed mightily to this nation’s greatness. That worldview, and the Christian faith behind it, is being whittled away by the media, our popular culture, and a newly emboldened “activist atheist” movement. The pace of that whittling has accelerated over the last decade.
Atheism and “Nones” Rising
Data from the Pew Research Center shows that those who consider themselves atheist, agnostic, or unaffiliated with any religion have been rising as a percentage of the U.S. population. In 2012, nearly 20% of the public fell into one of those categories, up nearly 5 percentage points over the preceding 5 years. When focusing on adults under 30, about one third consider themselves atheist, agnostic, or unaffiliated. Almost exclusively, the gains in these groups reflect losses for Christians, with Christians dropping from 78% to 73% of the population over the same period. Doubtless, the trend has continued.
Lies and Misinformation
Christianity’s retreat is facilitated by a new breed of authors and “scholars” who have worked hard to undermine the most basic teachings of Christianity. With the help of a sympathetic media, they’ve captured the public’s imagination. Their impact has been significant.
For example, from the likes of the late Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Bart Ehrman, Sam Harris, Reza Aslan, Simcha Jacobovici, and others, we have “learned” that:
- The New Testament is full of errors and alterations, and we can’t even figure out what the original texts said.
- Neither Jesus nor his early followers considered him divine. The whole idea that Jesus is the “Son of God” came about centuries after Jesus’s death.
- Jesus was actually just a poor, illiterate bumpkin who preached about the end of the world.
- The early church ruthlessly – and violently – silenced “heretics.” As a result, many valid writings were hidden from people because they were damaging to orthodox Christianity.
- The whole Jesus story was just a rip-off of other “dying and rising” god myths, common in ancient times.
- The traditionally accepted authors of the four canonical gospels could not have been the real authors.
- Christianity has killed and persecuted millions over the centuries, including “pagans,” heretical Christians, and thousands of Muslims during those first acts of Christian imperialism, the Crusades.
- Archeological discoveries have proven time and again that the Bible is untrustworthy as a work of history.
- The Bible is riddled with inconsistencies that render it invalid.
- Christianity encourages scientific illiteracy because it teaches that the Earth is the center of the universe and that it’s just 6,000 years old.
- Many more “facts” that serve to undermine the faith.
There is one problem common to all of the “facts” mentioned above: they’re demonstrably wrong, or else they take a tiny bit of truth and distort it beyond all recognition. For example, the assertion that Jesus was not considered divine until a vote of church leaders at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., an oft-repeated myth, is absurd. The Council did not debate whether Jesus was divine. Rather, it debated the nature of his divinity: was he the created Son of God – sort of like an “über-Angel” – or was he a pre-existent being, co-equal with God? The Council decided, based on scriptural interpretation, that Jesus was the latter. His basic divinity was never doubted.
In another example, some authors are fond of pointing out uncanny similarities between the story of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection and the stories of a range of other “dying and rising” gods, such as Mithras, Attis, and Dionysus. This is done in an effort to paint the Jesus story as just a rip-off of earlier myths. A closer analysis, however, reveals that most of these alleged similarities were either fabricated or wildly misrepresented. In a number of cases, such as that of Mithras, some similarities were genuine but were developed long after Jesus’s death by pagan cult members to boost their own movement’s credibility. In other words, it was Jesus who got ripped off!
For each of the “facts” listed above, there are highly sound, historically accurate rebuttals. Yet these myths are repeated ad infinitum by some “scholars,” authors, bloggers, popular media outlets, and ill-informed atheist activists all over this nation.
Their incessant “cut and paste” mentality on the internet has established a strong base of content that is now in the process of fooling many Christians into abandoning their faith, while turning away many otherwise open-minded “seekers.” A textbook example is the shamefully inaccurate cover story on Christianity, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” published on December 23, 2014 by Newsweek.
In addition, a confident-feeling activist atheist community is working to reinforce the notion that anyone who turns to religion (especially Christianity) is an intellectual weakling who believes in fairy tales. Consider the latest ad campaign by American Atheists. The net result of all this is a rising number of people who consider themselves atheist or agnostic.
Craig Dunkley is a marketing and public relations executive. He is also founder and editor of Logic & Light, a website dedicated to Christian apologetics.