2017-10-08 / Insight

Religion & faith in 2017

LAPEER COUNTY — Do you believe in God? Do you go to church regularly? Do you pray?

Heavy questions for a Sunday morning, but a subject The County Press has been interested in for several years as we continually work to provide reporting that’s important and relevant to the lives of our readers. For some of you, the answer to the above three questions may be a collective, “No.”

Yet for many others, the answer isn’t so cut and dry. A recent Pew Research Center survey suggests Americans on the whole are going to church and worship services less than they used to — while others are actually going more. And those who are skipping Sunday service aren’t necessarily doing it for reasons of belief.

For one thing, the U.S. is still overwhelmingly religious, despite years of predictions about religion’s demise. A significant number of people who don’t identify with any particular faith group still say they believe in God, and roughly 40 percent pray daily or weekly. While there have been changes in this kind of private belief and practice, the most significant shift has been in the way people publicly practice their faith: Americans, and particularly young Americans, are less likely to attend services or identify with a religious group than they have at any time in recent memory.

The survey offers evidence that at least some Americans find worship services less relevant than other things they could be doing with their time, or perhaps they’re too hard to make time for. But the biggest takeaway is the variety of religious experience in America. Just as some people are drifting away from religion, others are moving toward it — and no matter what they might do on Sunday mornings, many people seem to find religious thinking still relevant to their lives.

In today’s paper, we will offer INSIGHT into the diversity of our religious community — starting with a look at three local “mega” churches that have found a way to grow in numbers, and some say relevance in today’s world.

It is our hope today’s INSIGHT will spur further conversation and dialogue on these pages as we together explore the place of religion and faith in Lapeer County in 2017, and beyond.

Jeff Hogan

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