Philip Jenkins, author of Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses, faces statistical reality and offers a theory to explain it:
I am a member of the Episcopal Church, USA (hereafter TEC). I am increasingly worried that in a few years, I might be THE member of the Episcopal Church, USA, the last of my kind.
As Rod Dreher, Ross Douthat and others have pointed out, the church has just issued a summary of its attendance statistics from 2000 to 2010, and they are incredibly bad even by the standards of liberal mainline denominations. Nationwide, average Sunday attendance fell by 23 percent in that short decade, from 857,000 to 658,000.
… My main worry is that TEC authorities are huddled around trying to respond to this crisis, and deciding that the church must conform its values still more closely to those of secular society — you know, to become truly relevant, to face the challenges of the 1970s.
… The numerical growth and success of a religious denomination is inversely proportionate to the favorable treatment it receives in major liberal media outlets (New York Times, Washington Post, Nation, New Republic). Examples? The Episcopal Church USA versus Mormons or Catholics; Episcopalians/Anglicans in North America versus Africa.