Paul Simon writes great lyrics, and Slip, Slidin’ Away is one of my favorites. Which brings me to the Pew Forum report on Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the US. “What does Paul Simon have to do with religious affiliation,” you ask? Well, Slip, Slidin Away could be the new theme song for America’s religious habits.
The Pew Forum identified 5 reasons the unaffiliated left church. Number One on the hit parade was: Just drifted away. Which isn’t exactly Slip, Slidin’ Away, but pretty close. An average of 71% of all unaffiliated respondents said they “just drifted away” from the faith. Former Catholics hit the average with exactly 71% of them saying they drifted away; former mainline denominations did somewhat better with only 65% saying they just drifted away. But the prize goes to former evangelicals (yes, folks like us). A whopping 74% of previous pewsitters said they “just drifted away” from their evangelical faith.
Of course, there is a lot more to the report than this one statistic, and I’d encourage you to read the whole thing. You can even download a pdf to send along to others who might be interested.
But, my interest is this — What is happening to these folks? Church attendance is plummeting, and now apparently part of the reason is that former members are drifting away.
How does that happen? Does it begin by missing first one Sunday service, then another, and another. And, if no one notices, then they think no one cares. Are we doing a really poor job of keeping up with each other in our churches. We might add a new “allelon” to the batch of biblical “one anothers:” Keep up with one another.
Paul Simon’s lyrics are particularly ironic when you consider the Pew report:
Slip slidin’ away, slip slidin’ away,
You know the nearer your destination,
the more you’re slip slidin’ away.
Art imitates life once again. Thanks, Paul. Watch the video of Paul Simon performing our new theme song.