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The Meltdown (2)

In November, I wrote that the current economic meltdown “actually aids the gospel.”  Now, it seems the New York Times has noticed a possible trend (although their research is anecdotal, not data-driven).  This is what they said:

Part of the evangelicals’ new excitement is rooted in a communal belief that the big Christian revivals of the 19th century, known as the second and third Great Awakenings, were touched off by economic panics. Historians of religion do not buy it, but the notion “has always lived in the lore of evangelism,” said Tony Carnes, a sociologist who studies religion.

A study last year may lend some credence to the legend. In “Praying for Recession: The Business Cycle and Protestant Religiosity in the United States,” David Beckworth, an assistant professor of economics at Texas State University, looked at long-established trend lines showing the growth of evangelical congregations and the decline of mainline churches and found a more telling detail: During each recession cycle between 1968 and 2004, the rate of growth in evangelical churches jumped by 50 percent. By comparison, mainline Protestant churches continued their decline during recessions, though a bit more slowly.

When people are full of fear, the gospel message resonates.  The current economic conditions may be bad for my retirement funds, but they are great for the gospel.  And that’s what matters.

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