Joel Osteen's Mega-Watt Grin Can't Keep Houston Within the Bible Belt, Survey Says

Categories: Texas

Perhaps expectedly, some of the local mega-churches -- among the largest in the nation, again -- didn't offer a full-throated endorsement.

"You have to be careful about what criteria you're using," Gary Moore, a senior associate pastor with the Second Baptist Church, said, questioning the findings. "We get such an area to cover. You just have to be careful."

But, look: Houston's changed, and will only continue, and will only present new generations and new populations that either have no desire for or no access to whatever people think can be found within the Bible. And some ministries realize this. The mega-churches -- those weekly enclaves larger than the towns Houston continues to gobble -- may be nice, but they also paint a picture of something passed.

"I'd say I'm not surprised at the ranking," Steven Murray, the director of communications at Houston's First Baptist Church, noted. "I could speak for days about the general trends of the country, of a society drifting away from the values of the Bible. This isn't the Houston of the 1950s that some people think of."

The poll, conducted by the Barna Group and with a margin of error of only 0.5 percent, was the first of its sort in ABS's 200-year history. As such, this initial foray is little more than a moment, a capture of stasis without any form of trajectory. (Morin, fortunately, did say this poll would likely turn into an annual affair.) But it's a snapshot of a town carrying a reputation it perhaps doesn't deserve, or of one that's as outdated as, well, most of the stereotypes carried therein. Barbecue can still have its place, but the Bible and its backers need to catch up, or grow accustomed to the middle of the pack.

"We have to come to terms with the fact that we're in the fourth-largest city in the country, and that we're incredibly diverse, which is such a beautiful thing," Murray added. "But I hope this is a wake-up call. We can't just assume everyone in Houston grew up in Houston. This has to be a wake-up call."

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20 comments
jd_bauer
jd_bauer

I guess this is good news but as long as huge percentage of people still believe in a magic sky wizard that can telepathically read your mind who demands constant praise, who has the power but does nothing to stop the multitude of injustices daily then we need push for change. I am an atheist not because a lack of faith but a series of conclusions, based on logic and reasoning

Evan Clayson
Evan Clayson

How is SLC just before NYC at number 84?

Anse
Anse

It's not just the decline in church membership that I find interesting. It's the way these churches are changing. A lot of them now think of themselves as a brand, and proselytizing is now more like marketing. Christianity, Inc. is the new norm. Not sure that's what the founder of the faith intended.

Photography by Stangu
Photography by Stangu

Houston is one of the melting pots. There won't be a belt of any sort when the mixture of cultures are mixed. There is no culture here any longer if there ever was one which is why it's compared to NY so much. It's not a traditional southern/Texas city. If you want to see traditional or a place more Texan like, look elsewhere.

Rhonda Hare
Rhonda Hare

~ I knew we weren't whenever I was able to say (in a legal sense) that I do in-home parties & sell "sex toys" rather than "adult novelties." HOORAAAAY! Side Note: J.O. gives my intuition the super creeps.

April Emore
April Emore

Who said Osteen was a Biblical preacher?

David Losoya
David Losoya

Forgive us for being progressive and preserving culture and identity.

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