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1.Ron Luce makes The New York Times front page
Just as Jesus Camp and Righteous are provoking fear nationwide that a bunch of freaky theocrat kids are being trained to take over the country, along comes a New York Times front page story covering Ron Luce and his claim that "Christianity in America won't survive another decade." (Actually, that quote doesn't appear in the Times, but it's the bold print in Luce's ads, which bear the National Association of Evangelicals' imprimatur. Haven't seen the ads? Subscribe to CT, you naughty freeloader.)

"I'm looking at the data," Luce tells the paper, "and we've become post-Christian America, like post-Christian Europe. We've been working as hard as we know how to work — everyone in youth ministry is working hard — but we're losing."

Luce's "data" is his much quoted claim that only 4 percent of teenagers will be "Bible-believing Christians" (or, in his ads, "evangelical believers") as adults. The Times rightly calls the claim, first promoted by Barna Research, "highly suspect" and notes that it has been questioned by Group magazine and others. Among them, Christian Smith, whose landmark book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers won a Christianity Todaybook award this year.

"A lot of the goals [of the new evangelical youth campaign] I'm very supportive of," Smith said, "but it just kills me that it's framed in such apocalyptic terms that couldn't possibly hold up under half a second of scrutiny. It's just self-defeating."

We wish we could hear the reaction to the article at the National Youth Workers Convention in Austin this week. But somebloggers involved in youth ministry are criticizing Luce as a fearmonger. New Testament ...

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October 2006

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