A new study has found that “born again” — a phrase that has typically been associated most closely with evangelicalism over the last few decades — is losing its exclusivity. Lots of Christians are referring to themselves as “born again” now, including Mainline Protestants and Catholics.
That study comes from Ryan Burge, an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University who’s increasingly become an indispensable source for understanding faith trends in America.
He’s found that the “born again” identification is on the rise among lots of different types of Christians. While evangelicals and Black Protestants have long used “born again” as an identifier, that designation is on the rise across the board.
The big jumps were among two groups. First, Mainline Protestants — who’ve gone from 28 percent to 40 percent identifying since 1988. And Catholics doubled in the same time period. As Burge notes at Christianity Today “those increases are especially striking because neither tradition teaches that a born-again conversion is a necessary component of their faith.”
Exactly why that is isn’t clear, but Burge thinks it may have to do with people’s understanding of what being “born again” means. The more people attend church, the more likely they are to identify as “born again” so it could just mean that the definition is changing to “someone who takes their faith extra serious”.
You can read Burge’s whole report here.