Religious affiliation among Americans has now dropped for a third consecutive year.
According to a recent article published by Gallup, 2021 was the first year that membership in a house of worship fell below 50% for the first time in 80 years.
Around 47% of US citizens claimed to be members of a mosque, synagogue or church in 2020. This number was down from 50% of the American population in 2018. Back in 1999, 70% of Americans claimed religious affiliation.
The group of Americans claiming “no religion” is made up of the spiritual, agnostics and atheists, along with people claiming no specific organized religion. Within the next four to six years, it’s believed that millennials will drive the “no religion” group to the top of religious statistics in the United States.
The northeast has taken the biggest hit in the US within the Christian faith. New Hampshire has been identified as the least religious state in the country, with only 33% of adults identifying as highly religious. Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut round out the top five least religious states, all of which are in New England, according to Gallup.
According to research completed by World Population Review, specifically within the Boston area, new values and belief systems are dominating the region.
LGBTQ rights, equality for women and other like-minded movements have played a role in driving people further away from religion that many people view as anti-gay and patriarchal. Additionally, many people have shifted their focus to liberal politics for progress and social injustice, critical thinking of higher education and the evidence and thinking of more scientific ways, the study showed.
Along with these statistics, New Hampshire has also battled a severe opioid crisis since 2015. For years, the state has battled opioid addiction to the point where New Hampshire was leading the nation in overdose deaths per capita.
A group of church leaders and evangelists in New Hampshire have decided they are tired of losing ground to what they refer to as the “enemy" in an area known as “Satan’s headquarters” among US Evangelicals.
To better understand how the Evangelical community is addressing the issue in New Hampshire and the surrounding area, The Jerusalem Post spoke with Pastor Randy Loubier of Chestnut Hill Chapel in New Boston, New Hampshire.
Along with his role at Chestnut Hill Chapel, Loubier is a best-selling author and the founder of 603 Witness, a movement that aims to rally New Hampshire evangelists. The mission is to raise, train and then deploy a new "army of evangelists" into churches throughout the state, he explained.
What do you think the main struggle is with Christian statistics being so low in the Northeast, specifically New Hampshire?
“Many have tried to find characteristics in our culture that would explain it, but without success,” Loubier said. “New Hampshire people are not much different than the average person in the US. The Bible says we don’t battle against flesh and blood. Truly, the only valid explanation for New Hampshire being last in the nation is spiritual. The battle in the heavenlies touched down in New Hampshire a long time ago and has settled here.”
What specific moment led you to take action and start putting this movement together?
“Dozens of pastors and ministry leaders across many denominations are interconnected in New Hampshire,” Loubier explained. “They have been hearing from God individually and when praying as a group. Here is what they are hearing from God: ‘Evangelism is the answer.’ At one such meeting, I proposed that we start to gather evangelists across the state and develop some state-wide systems by which we can raise up an army of new evangelists in churches across our state.”
How many different denominations are included within 603 Witness?
“We are calling for every pastor, priest, minister and reverend from every church to join in this movement. Our leadership team is non-denominational and Catholic, but evangelists from many denominations have responded,” he said. “And, this movement is just getting off the ground. God is with us, and He will grow us in unity and perseverance.
“We had 38 denominational leaders or representatives gather in May of 2021 and agree to stand for the Gospel.”
How will you judge the movement’s success?
“The goal is salvations. Deeply thirsty souls hungering for the Lord, through the Word of God,” Loubier replied. “Statistically, we want to see New Hampshire rise quickly out of last place in the nation.
“A year from now, we would like to see an organization take shape that is building multiple inputs into our society,” he continued. “For example, telephone evangelists plugged into our emergency response system, government evangelists connected in our capitol, workplace evangelists ready to share on the job, street evangelists deployed onto the streets and marketplaces, community evangelists on the boards of nonprofits, digital evangelists on social media and public events evangelists at the state and county fairs.”
How can Christians in other parts of the United States get involved?
“We need prayer and resources to be focused on the state of New Hampshire,” Loubier said. “If this truly is ‘Satan’s headquarters’ in the US, it will be prayer that breaks his stranglehold. And, with so few people going to church here, we need financial resources.
“We can promise donors that every nickel will be stewarded and spent wisely to train, organize and raise an army of evangelists in this state," he stressed. "Heart For God Ministries is a 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions are tax-deductible.”