For several years, I have commented on the need to level the playing field of “faith.” Every person has a “faith,” even the agnostic and the atheist. They believe (have faith) in themselves or the wisdom of those of their group. The designation, “peoples of faith,” is used to denote those groups from supposedly “peoples of non-faith.” This designation strongly implies that the “faith” group is weaker than those “without faith.” The former use the crutch (sometimes this very word is used) of faith, while the latter group are “free thinkers,” a higher category of thinking human.
But, of course, this dichotomy if entirely false. Everyone has a faith, because everyone starts with some reason that they trust, and on this reason they base all their other conclusions. That reason may be their own ability to reason, but that is perhaps the greatest leap of faith of all. Therefore, everyone is a “person of faith” and belongs to a “people of faith” group. (For more on the dimensions and definition of faith, see all the entries on faith in the Glossary.)
Well, a nationally recognized figure has finally placed everyone in a faith group. George Barna calls these groups “faith tribes.” He names seven of them:
- Casual Christians – 66% of the adult population
- Captive Christians – 16% of the adult population
- Jews – 2% of the adult population
- Mormons – 2% of the adult population
- Pantheists – 2% of the adult population
- Muslims – one-half of 1% of the adult population
- Skeptics – 11% of the adult population
If you add these up, the total is 100 percent—that is everyone!
I fervently hope and pray that his designations become common parlance, especially in the news media. Christians are not competing with more rational thinkers—they are competing with thinkers of a different “faith tribe,” to use Barna’s word.
The largest group to which faith is directed is not on Barna’s group: the federal government. But his designations may lead Americans, and Christians in particular, to discover that we have place our greatest hope in the federal government and not in Almighty God and His infallible and sufficient Word.