The stats on faith and fatherhood

Lawmakers should follow the data and the science because they will eventually show them — statistics in the United States don’t lie — the number of religious Americans and families with a father in the home is on a rapid decline. Without Christ, we will not see these trends reversed.

As a former NFL player, I had to deal with statistics a lot during my time in the league.

I came to understand that while statistics do not always offer to predict exact results, compiled data usually provides at least some indication as to future performance and how we can expect things to play out during the next game.  

Today, I have noticed a few troubling statistics regarding the decline of Christianity and the rise of fatherlessness in America. As our country moves forward, these numbers could have serious consequences for the future of our country if we don’t reverse these trends.

Christianity statistics

Only about 65% of American adults identify as Christian today, according to Pew Research. This number is down 12 percentage points over the last decade.

Additionally, only 47% of American adults belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque in 2020, which was down more than 20 points since the turn of the 21st century. Church membership in America was at 73% when Gallup began collecting its data in 1937.  

Furthermore, our Nation is seeing great discrepancies when these numbers are broken down by age. Just 49% of millennials  describe themselves as Christian today, while more than 80% of the Silent Generation and 76% of Baby Boomers do so.

Only 22% of millennials say they attend church at least once per week, and almost two-thirds say they attend church services a few times per year or less. Some models  estimate  that America’s Christian population could fall to as low as 35% by the year 2070 if these trends continue.

Decline in faith

America’s decline in faith has largely mirrored a decline in fatherhood. In 1960, only about 9% of  American children  grew up without a father in the home.

Today, that number is around 25%, for a total of 18.4 million children absent a father in the home (the number is over 24 million or 33% for children absent a biological father in the home).

This is over 3 times the world average and the  highest rate  of children living in single-parent households of any country in the entire world.

The statistics also tell us that fatherlessness is a heavy indicator with a wide range of adverse outcomes for a child’s future.

For example, 90% of all  homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes, as well as 85% of children and teens with behavioral disorders and 63% of teens who commit suicide.  

Studies also  indicate  that fatherless children are more likely to drop out of school and to repeat a class than children with both parents in the home. Fatherlessness also relates to criminality, as about 70% of all the youths in  state-operated institutions  come from single-parent homes.  

In the NFL, when we didn’t like the statistics in front of us, we called an audible and changed the play. At the end of the day, it just came down to hard work.

That’s true of our country too, and it’s up to all of us to call an audible and lead the charge in returning to a society based on faith and family — the things that matter most.

Jack Brewer serves as chair of the Center for Opportunity Now and vice chair of the Center for 1776 for the America First Policy Institute.

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