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4.0 out of 5 stars A statistician's rapture, June 6 2011
This review is from: Christians Are Hate - Filled Hypocrites...And Other Lies You'Ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media (Paperback)
A provocative title sells books. This title is one to make Christians sit up and notice. For neutrals, some questions come to mind: With so many permutations, who are Christians? Where is the line drawn on a graph indicating where, mild dislike graduates to intense hate? How can faith-based hypocrisy be measured?

Much of the data presented here is based on self-evaluated subjective answers to potentially self-disparaging questions. So, how valid is it? There is no way to measure respondent's honesty about how he/she evaluates his/her own actions and attitudes. And, since most of the material separates participants into groups how much influence does loyalty to group-think effect each individual's reply?

The book was written for so-called Evangelical Christians. (There are three or more methods of determining who is an Evangelical according to Appendix 1.) It is filled with figures, percentages and graphs. Most curious readers would probably be satisfied with just reading chapter nine, titled "What Do We Make of It All?" But Wright does come up with interesting, credible conclusions which generally will please people of faith, including Evangelicals. The contrasting results between different religions or denominations, and the unaffiliated, would be of interest to any student of social trends.

It turns out that mass media and academia (as well as some alarmist Evangelicals) have been wrong in declaring Christianity and a belief in God to be facing critical declines. When measured as a percentage of the population, more and more people are definitely choosing to be unaffiliated but in terms of numbers of affiliated believers there is no impending crisis for most faith groups--mostly due to the increase in population. The exception applies to Mainline churches whose memberships have long been in decline and show no sign of levelling off. As a Canadian I found myself reading between the lines to guess at how different the U.S. faith landscape might be from that of its northern neighbour. I am quite sure there are significant differences which deserve to be explored.
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