I just read this headline about lots of people changing religions. They want something different from what they have. But what’s really behind it? Can people get a new God by switching religions?
No, I don’t think they’re switching to the pink bunny religion. Although, I could be wrong. Who knows?
I might surprise you here by saying, yes, people can actually get a different god by switching religions.
However, before we get into that, let’s take a look at why so many people are leaving their old religion behind and switching to a new religion.
What are they looking for? Or maybe trying to get away from?
And is it really different where they end up? Or is it just a change for the sake of changing?
Is it even possible to find what they’re looking for?
So many questions. Let’s try to get some answers.
Rising number of Americans are switching religions, survey says
That’s the headline – Rising number of Americans are switching religions, survey says. You can read the article on msn yourself by clicking here.
The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute survey of people across the country found that a quarter of Americans (24%) say they’ve changed religious traditions or denominations over their lifetime or recently.
That number, by itself, means nothing. A 24% change rate that can be a mix of recently or the respondent’s lifetime tells us nothing. But the next number …
That’s a 50% jump from 2021, when 16% said they had switched, the survey found.
That’s a big change. A 50% change over a period of only 2 years! Something’s going on here.
Who is switching religions?
Let’s take a look at who’s changing religions.
About one in four Protestants of color (28%), white evangelical Protestants (25%), and Hispanic Protestants (24%) say they previously practiced or followed another religious tradition.
I’m not sure why they changed to evangelical Protestants for the white people, as there’s nothing to indicate the reasoning behind the classifications above. But it does seem significant that something in the neighborhood of 25% of each of the groups identified experienced movement.
It appears it’s not just about race. However, until we know where they moved to, or why they moved, we don’t know that there isn’t a race component to what’s happening.
Religion or no religion?
More Americans also are turning away from Christianity and are seeing themselves as unaffiliated with any religion or as religious “nones,” even as some conservative Republicans seek to inject more religion into schools and public life.
OK – this is one of those changes that may very well get the person a new god. If you didn’t notice it above, please notice here, I purposely spelled “god” as g-o-d. That’s a lower-case “g”. It’s not God. Why? Because, clearly, in His own Word, the Bible, God makes it abundantly clear that Christians are meant to be in community with each other. Not isolated from everyone else, but at least in community with each other. And not just on Sundays. One source for that conclusion is the passage below.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
Jn 17:6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
Jn 17:13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
So we are meant to be part of this world. With everyone else. Beyond that, we are to work on something known as The Great Commission. Amongst the rest of the people who aren’t Christian.
The Great Commission
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
It’s not something we were meant to do alone. It’s part of what happens in churches, group meetings, and back then – as well as some places now – people meeting in someone’s house or in small boats away from the prying eyes of governments that would make them “disappear” or put them in jail.
Now – having said that, The Great Commission is not a command for Christians to beat people over the head with our Bibles until they submit to getting baptized. It’s also not supposed to mean passing laws forcing people to obey our beliefs under penalty of laws enacted by governments. We also see that clearly from something Jesus said when He sent out this first group of His disciples.
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
10:2-4 pp — Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Ac 1:13
10:9-15 pp — Mk 6:8-11; Lk 9:3-5; 10:4-12
10:19-22 pp — Mk 13:11-13; Lk 21:12-17
10:26-33 pp — Lk 12:2-9
10:34, 35 pp — Lk 12:51-53
Mt 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Mt 10:2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Mt 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10 take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
Mt 10:11 “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15 I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
Mt 10:17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Mt 10:21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Mt 10:24 “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!
Mt 10:26 “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Mt 10:32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
Mt 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“ ‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
Mt 10:36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
Mt 10:37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mt 10:40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
I left the entire passage for you. But the key for this topic is this:
14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town
Yes – if someone doesn’t want to listen, walk away. Just walk away! Don’t run to the government. We walk away – and then it’s between God and those who didn’t want to listen.
This is important – because if we’re looking for a religion that says otherwise – that thinks it’s OK for their “Christian” religion to do something other than what Jesus Himself gave us to do, they are not Christian.
These people will find a new god. But it’s not the God of Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible.
Church and politics
I’ve written about this so often. And it’s part of what’s happening here.
Most churchgoers (56%) do not believe their current church is more divided by politics than it was five years ago, the study found.
Only 13% say that their church is more politically divided.
White non-evangelical Protestants (17%) and Catholics (17%) are the most likely to indicate that their churches are more divided by politics.
Those numbers don’t sound all that bad.
However, I believe they are ignoring a link to something else that’s very political.
About 30% said negative religious teachings about or treatment of LGBTQ+ people forced them to change.
Yes, LGBTQ+ issues get measured separately in this survey. However, they are political in nature. Part of the problem is religious denominations getting involved in passing laws to match their beliefs. It’s also happening with abortion.
Churches are getting very political. They tend to go more conservative, by and large. Witness Donald Trump winning the 2016 Presidential election. And 2020. And probably in 2024. But now, we have even more Republicans on the bandwagon, trying to pick up votes from religious conservatives.
Guess what? These people, in switching religions from God to government, are also looking for a new god. And may very well get one if they go far enough in that direction.
What about the liberals?
It’s easy to write about the conservative Republicans and religion. It’s out there all the time. And it’s all very noisy.
But it happens on the other side as well. The reason LGBTQ+ issues came up so high isn’t just because of conservative politics or church denominations. Liberal denominations are changing their theology to teach that alternative lifestyles are, shall we call it, God-affirmed?
They may be church affirmed, but there’s no place in the Bible where that’s the case.
Having said that, there is a difference between love and affirmation. Christians, no matter our beliefs or politics, should love everyone. I just wrote about that the other day.
On the other hand, love doesn’t mean affirmation. People seem to be forgetting that this is a fallen world. Everyone sins. Everyone. And God will forgive all of them. Well, except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Even abortion can be forgiven.
Why we choose to decide some sins are not forgivable, I don’t understand that.
Why we decide that any behavior identified as sinful in the Bible is suddenly OK, I don’t understand that either. For instance, everyone lies. But no one, that I know of, ever tried to build a church doctrine saying it’s not a sin.
Conclusion – Can people get a new God by switching religions?
But here’s the larger issue. Even if something’s not sinful, anything that gets in our way of having God be Number One in our lives, is something Christians are taught that we must give up, or we cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
The example in the Bible is money, with the rich young man.
But if we’re honest, we know that money was chosen because it’s such a common problem. It wasn’t chosen because it’s the only problem. We get this one wrong so often, I want to include the passage below about money.
Love of Money
1Ti 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
It’s the “love of money”. And it’s not the root of all evil, it’s the root of all kinds of evil. (Even my spelling/grammar checker wanted me to change that to “the root” rather than “a root”. There are other things that lead to evil. And money by itself is neither good nor bad.
What we’re told is:
The Greatest Commandment – Matthew
22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31
Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So, when anything, including politics, including forcing our beliefs on people, gets in the way of loving God and each other, we have a problem.
If we switch religions hoping to find one that doesn’t believe/teach/follow the passages above, we’re looking for a god other than God. And when we find that god, do you know who it is? If you know anything about Christianity, of course you absolutely do know. That other god is Satan.
So – if you’re switching religions/denominations/churches to find God – that’s a good thing.
But if you’re switching religions/denominations/churches to get away from God, please think again. Because He will let you do that. He won’t force you to believe in Him, even though you might force others to believe in your god. But ultimately, it will be between you and God. In The End.
Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay