Time magazine this week features an article and an interview about Christianity's growing unpopularity in America. The article contains this tidbit:
"Barna polls conducted between 2004 and this year, sampling 440 non-Christians (and a similar number of Christians) aged 16 to 29, found that 38% had a 'bad impression' of present-day Christianity."
This is in contrast to 1996, when "fewer than 20% of non-Christians held an unfavorable view of Christianity," according to the article. The article goes on to explain some of the reasons for people's discontentment with Christianity:
"Kinnaman [the author of a new book called UnChristian] says non-Christians' biggest complaints about the faith are not immediately theological: Jesus and the Bible get relatively good marks. Rather, he sees resentment as focused on perceived Christian attitudes. Nine out of ten outsiders found Christians too 'anti-homosexual,' and nearly as many perceived it as 'hypocritical' and 'judgmental.' Seventy-five percent found it 'too involved in politics.'"
The question for Christians is how to respond to these polls. Personally, I think that certain of these findings should serve as a serious call to reflection and repentance for Christians. Clearly, we should all strive never to be hypocritical or judgmental, and the fact that so many non-Christians see us that way should give us pause. And regardless of Christians' beliefs about the appropriateness of homosexual activity, everyone must understand that there is never an excuse for any Christian to be "anti-homosexual" in the sense of being unloving towards homosexual persons.
Of course, the trick to responding to these polls is to be able to discern to what extent the criticisms of Christianity are legitimate responses to the sins of Christians, and to what extent they are the inevitable result of the world's inability to accept the radicalness of Christ. As Jesus warned us: "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).