- "We are your friends" says Israeli Prime Minister to Iranian people
- Indonesian President vows to do more for persecuted Christians
- Chinese President Xi Jinping steps up as global leader challenging US supremacy
- Trump and the future of NATO
- 100 000 Killed in Yemen conflict
- Pakistan Prime Minister defends religious minorities
- Trump to offer Putin sanction-nuclear deal
- Several thousand US troops arrive in Poland in show of strength against Russia
- US set for confrontation with China over South China Seas
- Swim Classes - the new front line for Muslim integration into Europe
- Christians remain the most persecuted group in the world
- Influential voice against Iranian hardliners dies
- China sends first freight train to London
- Islamic State claims deadly Istanbul nightclub attack
- 59 Killed in Baghdad as terrorists continue to target the city
AN ISLAMIC USA, ONE CHURCH AT A TIME?
An email currently circulating Christian networks calls for “action if we value our way of life” with an alarming message that Muslims are building “an Islamic State in America, one church at a time”.
The email reads as follows:
Today ‘Conqueror’s Mosques’ have sprung up not only in Istanbul and Amsterdam, but in Paris, Toronto, Melbourne and Brooklyn, where within sight of the Statue of Liberty extending her torch of freedom to the oppressed of the world, stands the grim squalid outpost of the oppressor of the world.
Mohammed and the Statue of Liberty, the armies of Islam and our way of freedom cannot long coexist.
Islam is conquering Europe. It is also conquering America.
In Syracuse, New York, the Holy Trinity Catholic Church has become a mosque. Despite the church being protected by the Landmark Preservation Board, its crosses were cut down and painted over.
According to Operation World (2010, Jason Mandryk) the religious statistics for the US are as follows:
- 77.6% of the population identify themselves as Christians (246,5 million people)
- 16.5% of the population identify themselves as non-religious (52,4 million people)
- 1.65% of the population identifies themselves as Jews (5.2 million people)
- 1.63% of the population identifies themselves as Muslims (5.1 million people)
b) Number of churches
There are an estimated 525,000 churches in the US - these numbers are difficult to verify (due to thousands of new churches opening each year, while hundreds of others close), but this is a researched estimate.
c) Average membership
According to an article in "Hartford Institute for Religion Research", the average church in the US has 75 regular participants in worship on Sunday mornings. The "National Congregations Study" (NCS) estimates that the smaller churches draw 11% percent of those who attend worship, while 50% of churchgoers attended the largest 10% of congregations (350 regular participants and up).
For years, the Gallup Research Organisation has come up with a consistent figure — 40% of Americans (roughly 118 million people) said they attended worship on the previous weekend.
Hartford Seminary sociologist Scott Thumma (who, with Warren Bird, compiled the 2011 “Megachurches Today” report), defines a megachurch as a congregation with at least 2,000 people attending each weekend.
As of 2012, there were roughly 1,600 Protestant churches in the United States with a weekly attendance of 2,000 people or more. The average megachurch had a Sunday attendance of 3,597.
g) Church growth
Reports about the growth or decline of churches in the US are generally conflicting.
In a recent sermon, Pastor James McDonald from Walking in the Word Ministries reported the following numbers about Christianity in America:
- Of the 250,000 Protestant churches in America, 200,000 are either stagnant (with no growth) or declining.
- That is 80% of the churches in America.
- 4,000 churches close their doors every year.
- There is less than half of the number of churches today than there were 100 years ago.
- 3,500 people leave the church every day.
- Since 1950, there are one-third fewer churches in the US.
These numbers, however, are unsubstantiated, very questionable and probably exaggerated.
A more detailed article in The Christian Post refers to the newly released "Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makes" by researchers Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird. This research notes an important shift in recent years: after decades of net decline, more US churches are being started each year than are being closed. What James McDonald neglected to mention is that 500 more Churches open every year than those being closed
According to the research, the healthiest churches are those that reproduce. Also, the authors emphasise that most new churches survive. After four years, 68% of new churches still exist and 70% attain self-sufficiency by the fifth year.
In order to be as objective as possible, the following numbers reflect research done by Muslims in the US, not Christian researchers. These numbers would therefore reflect the 'top range' of estimations (and a 'worst case scenario' from a Christian perspective).
A January 2012 research document by Ihsan Bagby ("The American Mosque 2011 and Basic Characteristics of the American Mosque") includes the following report:
“The number of mosques and mosque participants continue to show significant growth. The US Mosque Survey 2011 counted a total of 2,106 mosques; as compared to the year 2000 when 1,209 mosques were counted—representing a 74% increase from 2000. Muslims who attend Eid prayer (the high holiday prayers after Ramadan and Hajj) increased from about 2 million in 2000 to about 2.6 million in 2011. The total Muslim population cannot be determined by this figure, but it does call into question the low estimates of 1.1 - 2.4 million Muslims in America. If there are 2.6 million Muslims who pray the Eid prayer, then the total Muslim population should be closer to the estimates of up to 7 million.
The American mosque is a remarkably young institution: over three-fourths (76%) of all existing mosques were established since 1980. The vast majority of mosques are located in metropolitan areas but the percentage of mosques in urban areas is decreasing and the percentage of mosques in suburban areas is increasing: in 2000, 16% of mosques were located in suburbs, and in 2011, 28% of mosques are now located in suburbs."
As summary, the growth of mosques from 1994-2012 are as follows:
- 1994 962 mosques
- 2000 1,209 mosques – growth of 26% (247 new mosques in 6 years - this translates to one new mosque every 9 days),
- 2011 2,106 mosques – growth of 74% (897 new mosques in 11 years - this translates to one mosque every 5 days)
Compare this to the estimates above - 2,106 mosques in the US, with another 81 added every year, working out to one mosque being added every five days of the year.
At this rate, the ratio between churches and mosques is set to widen (at a rate of 7-to-1), not to shrink.
Hypothetically speaking, if one church is converted into a mosque every day of the year and no new churches are added to the existing 525,000 churches, it will still take more than 1,400 years to convert all the churches into mosques.
The simple reality is that even though Islam is growing in the US, there is no realistic danger of it becoming an Islamic state. Secularism is a far greater danger and bigger threat
While it is true that some churches in Europe, the US and other parts of the Western world have been converted into mosques, the email is written in a highly sensationalist tone and applies 'scare tactics' rather than mobilising the Church to reach out to Muslims in their local communities. Islam in the Western world is definitely growing and could indeed pose an increasing challenge in years to come, but forwarding these kinds of emails is not going to do anything in terms of making a positive difference.