Occasionally, I come across great leaders in the African American community that have dedicated their existence to improving the lives of everyone, not just our community, but all underrepresented groups that have struggled to have their voice heard within mainstream media and society.
Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts is one of those stalwarts who deserves all the accolades that have come his way during his illustrious career. However, as an African American who considers himself a Christian first and foremost, it sometimes irks me to read columnists who appear to have no religious affiliations criticizing the various religions of the world.
A recent survey on the decline in Christianity published by the American Religious Identification Survey found that 76 percent of Americans considered themselves Christian, which is down by 10 points from 1990. Those who claim “no religion,” were the only demographic group that has grown in all 50 states since 1990. Nationwide, those with no religious affiliations has grown from eight percent in 1990 to 15 percent.
Pitts attributes the decline in Christianity and other religions, including Islam, to unsavory behavior from religious people such as Jimmy Swaggart’s pornography addiction to Muslim terrorists hijacking U.S. planes and crashing them into buildings. I totally disagree with Pitts’ assessment on the decline in Christianity and other religions.
Although I have respect for all religious faiths, I can only speak on the person that has gotten me this far in life, and that is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The reason for the decline in Christianity is the fault of Christians worldwide, not because of Pitts’ reasons, but because very few Christians share the Gospel with non-believers who probably have never heard of Jesus Christ. People cannot convert to a faith that they know nothing about.
It is because believers never tell them that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God Almighty. That He came to earth because of man’s transgressions, and that He was crucified on the cross, so that we would not have to pay the price for our sins. However, three days later He was resurrected, defeating death and proving Himself to be one with the father.
As a result of the Messiah dying for our sins, those who trust Him for forgiveness will be born again, saved from the bondage of sin in this life and reborn into life everlasting.
Pastor Ralph Douglas West of The Church Without Walls in Houston states that more than two billion people have never heard the Gospel and that 15 of the world’s largest cities are predominately non-Christian, with ten more declining annually. By 1994, 30,000 Christian missionaries had retired, leaving only 5,000 to fill the void. Unfortunately, this is the reason for the decline in Christianity, not the sins of Christian leaders as Pitts preaches.
Furthermore, anyone with a religious affiliation knows that we are all sinners and all fall short, even our leaders. Parishioners attend church, not to analyze the faults of the minister, but to fellowship and worship God.
All believers know that despite the so-called decline in Christianity we have a Jesus that is there to wipe away our tears and be a friend when we have no friends. Believers know that our Jesus will be a comforter when we have lost our job, our car, and even a family member. Believers know that accepting Christ, and having salvation, will not make all of our problems disappear, but we know that because of His life, death and resurrection our lives will never be in decline, despite the so-called decline in Christianity.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.