While discussing the latest Pew Survey that documented the decline of people professing to be Christian in America, Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly blamed the Catholic Church's corruption and rap music's "promotion of depraved behavior" as a few reasons for the decline of Christianity in U.S. culture.
"There is no question that people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media and pernicious entertainment," O'Reilly said. "The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behavior, and that sinks into the minds of some young people – the group that is most likely to reject religion. Also, many movies and TV shows promote non-traditional values. If you are a person of faith, then the media generally thinks you are a loon."
O'Reilly was referring to the recent Pew Study that found that the number of Americans professing to be Christian dropped from 78 to 71 percent from 2007 to 2014. The fastest growing segment of religion is actually those who reject it, a category that includes atheists and agnostics. That number has risen from 16.1 percent in 2007 to 22.8 percent in 2014.
The pundit said the general attitude of young Americans has shifted to a more self-centered view that contradicts the commune-nature of religion.
"The prevailing wisdom especially among youths, is whatever is good for me is good period; the overall good be damned," said O'Reilly.
This is reflected by young adults fighting to legalize drugs and decriminalize the sale of "poisons" such as heroin and cocaine, O'Reilly said.
"Any student knows of history knows that when a nation turns toward the pursuit of the individual gratification, the country is in trouble," he said, citing Ancient Rome as an example.
And even though he criticized the media and entertainment as one reason behind the decline of Christianity in the U.S., he blamed the Catholic Church as the main culprit behind this statistic.
"The main reason Christianity is on the decline is poor leadership and corruption within the Catholic Church," he said. "The priest scandal devastated the Catholic landscape in America."
The Pew data shows that Christianity saw its biggest drop in Americans identifying with a Mainline Protestant denomination, with the second biggest drop being with Catholics. Those identifying as Mainline Protestants dropped from 18.1 percent in 2007 to 14.7 percent in 2014. Americans identifying as Catholic dropped from 23.9 percent in 2007 to 20.8 percent.
Christian leaders such as Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, recently said that the data shows the decline in cultural or nominal Christianity and not an actual drop in authentic believers and viewed the results as "good news."
"Bible Belt near-Christianity is teetering. I say let it fall. For much of the 20th century, especially in the South and parts of the Midwest, one had to at least claim to be a Christian to be 'normal.' During the Cold War, that meant distinguishing oneself from atheistic Communism. At other times, it has meant seeing churchgoing as a way to be seen as a good parent, a good neighbor, and a regular person. It took courage to be an atheist, because explicit unbelief meant social marginalization. Rising rates of secularization, along with individualism, means that those days are over — and good riddance to them," he said.
CP posed Moore's theory to a representative at Pew and asked if indeed the drop in Americans identifying as Christians is related to the way non-religious people are now identifying themselves.
Gregory Smith, associate director of research at Pew Research Center, told CP that the part of its report that would discuss this has not been released yet, but previous research conducted by Pew showed that the decline is indeed partly to non-religious people identifying as atheist or agnostic ditching the cultural Christian affiliation that has been prevalent in the U.S. since its inception.