One of the wide-spread stories of the day was a Pew survey on religious affiliation; the block of "nones" rose to 19%, helping knock self-identified Protestants down to just a 48% plurality.
Honesty might explain some of that change;
John Green, a senior research adviser at Pew, breaks the religiously unaffiliated into three groups. First, he says, are those who were raised totally outside organized religion.
Second are groups of people who were unhappy with their religions and left.
The third group, Green says, comprises Americans who were never really engaged with religion in the first place, even though they were raised in religious households.
“In the past, we would describe those people as nominally affiliated. They might say, 'I am Catholic; I am a Baptist,' but they never went" to services, Green says of this last group. “Now, they feel a lot more comfortable just saying, ‘You know, I am really nothing.’ ”
I would have been in that last block as a college kid; nominally Methodist but more a God-fearing agnostic who stopped going to church in high school. It was still edgy to be non-affiliated in the early 80s, especially in smaller towns.
Not so much anymore. The person who only darkens the door of a church for wedding and funerals is more inclined to say they aren't a practicing Christian.
That might actually be a blessing in disguise for evangelism. The nominal Christian of old might have leaned upon his baptism as a tyke and some Sunday School as a claim on eternity, but the modern none might be more honest in their free-agency. If a more winsome vision of Jesus is presented then they got growing up, they might decide to give things a second look, or a first look if all they got were Old Testament miracle stories without a Lord and Savior behind the miracles.