Monday, October 4, 2021

Recommended Reading: William P. Payne on Irish Religion

United Methodist Professor of Mission and UM & Global contributor Rev. Dr. William P. Payne has recently published an article entitled "Report of Survey Completed for Irish Evangelical Leaders" in Witness: Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education. As the title suggests, the article unpacks the results of a survey of the Irish population that Dr. Payne conducted in 2018.

The survey was intended to explore whether disgruntled and disaffiliating Irish Catholics might be receptive to Irish evangelicalism as an alternative Christian tradition. However, what the research found instead was that, for a variety of reasons, evangelicalism was not seen as an attractive alternative. Instead, former Catholics overwhelmingly became de-traditioned (i.e.,"nones"), instead of converting to an alternate Christian tradition.

As Dr. Payne notes in an email, "Even though the results of this survey only apply to Ireland, the implications show that the growth of secularism is a threat to all forms of Christian faith in America. Evangelicals, progressives, and Roman Catholics must find a positive way to respond to this ideological challenge if they desire to remain a popular option for future generations."

Dr. Payne's research can help further understanding of the important question of why religious change in the modern West is primarily (though not exclusively) a movement away from organized religion rather than movement across religious traditions.

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