Vanderbilt Divinity dean sees church changes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The outgoing dean of Vanderbilt University's Divinity School says how history views American religious life over the past decade may not be what we expect today.

In a Tuesday community lecture, James Hudnut-Beumler said that 10 years ago the big news was the rise of the evangelicals, as conservative religious leaders seemed to exercise increasing power and influence.

But more recently, evangelical influence has been on the decline while religious pundits now concern themselves with the rise of the so-called nones. Those are people who are not affiliated with any particular religion.

Hudnut-Beumler said many of the nones are not atheists, and it remains to be seen whether churches can find ways to lure them in. He said the key for churches is adapting to societal changes with integrity.

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