OK, here is a kind of think-about-it post that has been rumbling around in my mind for quite some time.
More and more, I am seeing stories about American religion that are linked to a very basic set of facts: Religious movements that (a) make converts, (b) have higher birthrates and (c) retain a high percentage of their young people have a better chance of thriving or surviving than those that do not.
All together now: #DUH. That's so obvious.
Well, if that is so obvious, why aren't more journalists asking questions about these trends when reporting some of the most important stories in American life and around the world?
Like what, you say? As noted many times here at GetReligion, this is clearly a factor in the declining number of Roman Catholic priests in America, as well as the painful closing of many religious schools. Note all the coverage of aging flocks in old-line Protestant denominations, the so-called "Seven Sisters." Are these factors relevant in the battles inside the United Methodist Church?
I've given this a name, as a twist on the old "demographics is destiny" slogan. That would be "doctrine is destiny." And, as I said, it's not just America. Look at the way birthrates are reshaping Italy. See this post: "Doctrine is destiny reference, concerning Italy's many churches and crashing birthrate." And that stunning new Benedict XVI Centre study on young people in Europe?
Now, it would be important to show that this affects many areas of life in America and elsewhere -- not just religion. Thus, I noticed this recent Washington Post "Wonkblog" piece about the decline and fall of a beloved chain in American commerce: "Toys R Us’s baby problem is everybody’s baby problem."
Here is the overture, leading to a blunt thesis: