Is YEC evaporating as Mainline Churches close?

None of the churches mentioned in this article would have been likely to support YEC.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

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True, so where are the YECs and who are the YECs? Ken Ham is seeing dismal second year attendance at Ark Encounter. The under 30 group are mostly Nones now so where are all the YECs? Is it like trying to find and fix famine in a land where most are overweight? Perhaps the YEC ideology will go away one funeral at a time.


You think the Evangelical Lutheran is a pro-Evolution denomination?

" The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Minnesota has lost almost 200,000 members since 2000 and about 150 churches. A third of the remaining 1,050 churches have fewer than 50 members. "

Patrick, I don’t think you understand the term “mainline Christian denomination”. To be concise about it, mainline denominations tend to be National Council of Churches affiliated and are therefore labelled as “liberal” by most evangelicals. Indeed, “mainline” has become a virtual antonym for “evangelical”. Mainline denominations are usually just fine with evolutionary biology, age of the earth, etc. The leaders of mainline denominations (and lots of the members) also reject strong positions on Biblical inerrancy. They are not likely to be Young Earth Creationism advocates although some members may be on a casual basis if they grew up around that tradition.

So your OP which introduces this thread totally clashes with the thread title.


Here are the 3 entities best at tracking the statistics around the country:

Spatial data about religion is hard to come by. Pew conducts semi-regular surveys about American religious life, but they have large margins of error for the subnational level and no county data at all. From the 1850s to the 1930s, the US Census Bureau conducted surveys of American religious bodies, assessing their property holdings, membership, attendance, and various high-level demographic and structural features, but those were discontinued during the Great Depression because of cost, privacy, and dwindling interest.


Since the 1930s, the Association of Religion Data Archives has collected as much data as it can to continue these national membership series, but they have a limited set of subnational data.


Since the 1950s, however, the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies has conducted periodical censuses of religious bodies in an attempt to get a complete picture of American religious life. In its 2010 census, it also tried to account for less denominationally organized religious membership, including nondenominational churches. This data is available by county, and is the data I will rely on when discussing the spatial distribution of American religious belief.

So true.

Are you sure? I noticed your post the other day where you said that the Ark Encounter had a “terrible” year. Nevertheless, I’ve seen a number of atheist commentators aptly observe the fact that the tourist attraction appears to surviving quite well with strong attendance figures. (And, yes, I lament that fact just as much—or perhaps even more—than they do.)

It is difficult to convert even the attendance figures available through the State of Kentucky and through the local government to an accurate annual income figure for A.E. but most analysts agree that one million visitors most likely generated more than sufficient income to keep the enterprise viable. (And keep in mind that in addition to ticket sales, lots of AIG supporters make generous monthly contributions as well as special project-related gifts whenever Ham sends out donation pleas.)

Yes, the actual numbers are well below the unrealistic estimates which Ham promoted to prospective donors a few years ago. But that’s just Ham being Ham (and it is how fund-raising among his ilk often works.) The fact that the actual numbers are well below those projections doesn’t really mean much. It certainly doesn’t mean that the second year was “dismal” or “terrible” or anything less than “successful” from the vantage of the Young Earth Creationist community.

Long-term, I don’t see how the Ark Encounter can survive the realities of demographics and plenty of other realities—but everything fails to survive in the “long-term”. Even when both the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter are underperforming, I would suspect that the AIG subsidies will easily support the shortfalls for many years. It is not like either attraction has a lot of complex and constantly rotating exhibits. (As many have observed, despite Ham’s claims of “attractions which rival those at Disney and Universal Studios”, the reality is far more bland.)

If these two tourist attractions fail in the next decade, it will most likely be due to Ham over-expanding, as he keeps talking about doing. There are plans for a Tower of Babel and other theme parks at the Ark Encounter. Each one that is actually constructed will accelerate the eventual financial collapse—but that collapse may take many years.

It will be interesting to see how much the ICR museum project (in Dallas, I think??) will divert tourist traffic and donor dollars.

Meanwhile, I’d be curious to hear why you disagree with so many of the atheist analysts and insist that A.E. attendance figures are “dismal.”


Best number I have for second year attendance is 847,000. That comes from the town numbers on the safety fee of $0.50 per ticket. That seems very low and at par with first year numbers. There really isn’t any reason for the numbers to increase as once you see it, it is not much of a “I can’t wait to go again”. Also, each time I look at the crowd demographics, it looks like senior citizens mostly. A few families with young kids but very unlike the demographics of the US as a whole but very much like the demographics of the churches above.

My question for this group is: are there a lot of twenty-something YECs in this country? This is the group I think we are most interested in conversing with?

Yes, there is a group like this. It will take time to build bridges to them.

Could it be that all are declining in membership and it doesn’t make sense anymore to ostracize subgroups of Christianity if each subgroup fights for viability?

Not really. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals are doing pretty well, and even growing. Mainline is certainly shrinking.

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Taken down by poster.


Very interesting.


I’m wondering what you think about what I have to say.

I sometimes wonder if I’m somehow contributing to this problem because I agree with many mainline positions. I don’t believe in inerrancy, believe in inclusivism, hopeful not dogmatic universalism, evolution, etc.

Yet I don’t think it’s these things that are making people walk away from mainlinism. I think it’s a decision to read the Nicene creed as poetry, see salvation through Christ as optional, belief in resurrection and incarnation as optional, etc.

Among Orthodox, the old cultural Orthodox people are leaving and churches, like the mainlines, are shutting down in droves. However, in the South, evangelicals are flocking to Orthodoxy and churches are growing like wildfire. And yet, many of these converts take “liberal” positions on the issues mentioned above as well. The cradle Orthodox that stay in the church have a very similar pious disposition to these converts.

For example, at IOTA, the new academic conference for Orthodox all over the world, I would imagine most attendees believe typically “liberal” things like I just mentioned, but in contrast to mainline churches, the conference was opened like this:

“As scholars and professionals, we wish to contribute our ‘iota’ to the life of the Church and to do so with due humility….IOTA will succeed as long as Jesus Christ remains the foundation of our work, Jesus Christ as He is proclaimed in the Scriptures and confessed in the Creeds, Jesus Christ Whom we have put on in baptism and Whose Body and Blood we receive in the Eucharist, Jesus Christ Who as the eternal Logos is the beginning and the end of all things.” (I don’t agree with a lot in this article by the way. It’s way too simplistic.)

I think many mainline churches would sit back in horror at this type of language.

So my guess is, it’s not the “liberal” positions of churches that are turning people away (though Orthodox remain more conservative on gender and sexual issues than even some evangelicals), rather it’s a decision to take the focus off Christ. Without Christ, there is nothing that separates these churches from any other social gathering.

Do you think I’m right?


Also, what is happening to the attendance at churches like the PCA, ACNA? These are the conservative versions that split from the mainlines.