"Americans are the most religious people of any developed nation, followed by Ireland and Italy. I don't think that is changing in the least. People keep reporting that America is secular, and there is more religious pluralism than before. But, 140 years after Darwin's book, only about 10 percent of Americans are secular, despite all of the science books teaching (evolution), compared to well over 90 percent who believe in God...In Europe, many people hate the church because they hate the government, which runs the church. People in the U.S. have a great contempt for the government, but they love the church...
"Religion in America may be getting more diverse, but evangelical Protestantism is still the dominant force, along with the enormous growth of the Catholic Church in this country, which I attribute to a slightly higher birth rate and to immigration. Pentecostals and charismatics, which used to be considered on the fringe, are now considered mainline."
J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute of the Study of American Religion, Santa Barbara, Calif.:
"In the last generation, the major religions of the world came here and the projection is that over the next generation we will get the rest of them...As the Muslim community continues to grow, their vote is going to offset the Jewish community's vote and that is going to start effecting foreign policy."
The Rev. James Shopshire, professor of sociology of religion and urban ministry, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.:
"At the seminary where I teach, Wesley Theological Seminary, we are getting close to 60 percent women enrolled there and that has reversed over the last 30 years. Many men, especially white men, look at the priestly role as being less and less attractive and fewer...aspire for the ministry now. I do think we won't get too far into (this) century before the Roman Catholic Church will have to say women will have to be priests. I think that is going to happen."
Howard Snyder, professor of the history and theology of mission, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky.:
"Religious fundamentalism will continue to prosper globally, but will not become dominant except in some localized situations. Islam will continue to grow in its global impact--but I think will begin to decline in dynamic by about 2050 as it becomes more `modern' and `liberal'. Christianity in China, Korea, Brazil and perhaps some other countries will have increasingly significant global impact...There may be some reboard in some mainline denominations, but I don't think this will be dramatic....The U.S. will experience some sort of religious revival--but it is hard to say yet what shape this will take...
"I see growing global influence of Islam, and of Christianity in some resurgent form, and probably some new hybrid movement or movements, some of which will integrate various New Age themes. Liberal Protestantism has been dying for decades and will be basically defunct in 20 years. History shows that Christianity is amazingly resilient and adaptable to very different cultural contexts, so I don't think we're going to see a "Post-Christian" era--though we are now in a post-Christendom era..The main new fact of our time is that we are now in a global marketplace of world views and ideas--and it is not yet clear who will be the `winners' and `losers' in the new religious community."
The Rev. Charles Partee, professor of church history, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary:
"I don't think that the big players--the Sloane Coffins and others--realized what they had done in the thirties and forties. To stay with their liberal political friends they continued to use the Christological language, but emptied it of its cosmic claim without realizing it. What finally happened is that now, the Presbyterian leaders truly do realize that the universal claim is an embarrassment to their so-called cultured friends who are not religious."
Mark Toulouse, a American religion specialist at Texas Christian University's Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth:
"The earliest mark of Protestantism waning in American life was Will Herberg's book `Protestant, Catholic, Jew' in 1955. It was a real understanding that there was at least three basic ways of being religious in America and that they were equally acceptable...Mainline religion probably had an influence beyond its numbers before the 1950s. But mainline churches certainly have lost influence since then...
"It is happening in all denominations. People are shaping their churches to please their customers...Now, mainline churches searches are seeking to re-discover what it means to be a Christian from their particular viewpoint."
William D. Dinges, who writes on emerging religious movements and teaches at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.: