LS: Christian nation or not, faithful still flock

PASTOR MIKE MACFARLANE of New Day Ministries in Grand Junction speaks at the sunrise service Sunday morning in Lincoln Park Barn. The service was moved from Suplizio Field because of early morning rain. MacFarlane said Easter is the most common time of year for questioning Christian faith and that Christians should “rise up and live out loud.”

Don’t tell Amber Strasser that Christianity in America is declining.

Strasser was one of several hundred local residents who awoke early Sunday to attend the 6:45 a.m. community Easter service hosted by the Grand Junction Ministerial Alliance at the Lincoln Park Barn.

Spring showers forced the sunrise service inside, but weather wasn’t about to dampen worship for those who came to celebrate the most important day in the Christian faith.

Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus.

Last week, President Barack Obama told a gathering in Turkey that America was not a Christian nation, instead saying it is a nation of citizens bound by a set of values.

In the most recent issue, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham penned an article about the declining popularity of Christianity based on the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey, in which a decreasing number of Americans identified themselves as Christians.

Local pastors and churchgoers Sunday did not have an emotional response to either Obama’s or Meacham’s words.

In fact, Rob Storey, pastor at River of Life Alliance Church, agreed with Obama. When the American president tells the world the United States is not a Christian country, Obama must see something to indicate it’s not, Storey said.

“As Christians, what do we do with that?” Storey asked.

According to the 2009 ARIS, 76 percent of Americans say they are Christian, which is down from 86 percent in 1990. On the flipside, 15 percent of Americans said they have no religious identity, which is up from 8 percent in 1990.

The ARIS numbers are based on 54,461 interviews in Spanish and English, according to CNN.

Be careful with poll numbers, Storey said.

“Define Christianity,” Storey said. “Polls don’t define that.”

Some Christians define their faith by whom they believe in and how they live their lives. Other Christians define their religion as simply not belonging to another faith, Storey said.

The muddled definition of Christianity is why Storey sides with Obama, he said.

Storey was one of several pastors who attended the community sunrise service.

Mike MacFarlane, pastor at New Day Ministries in Grand Junction, delivered the message at the community service. Without saying Obama’s name, MacFarlane acknowledged in his short sermon that there have been people within the past year to question Christianity in America.

Easter is the most common time of year to question the validity of the Christian faith, he said.

“It’s time for us to rise up and live out loud,” MacFarlane said of Christians. “Those with other agendas live out loud.”

Consider Strasser a Christian who wants to live her life in a certain way, she said. She echoed the words of her pastor, MacFarlane. Strasser attends New Day Ministries.

“Christians will start to stand up,” she said. “If they stand up, God will change this country.”

After all, MacFarlane said after the sunrise service, he nor any of his pastoral colleagues is in control of Christianity in America.

“God is in control,” he said.


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