[Conservative churches] not only give evidence that religion is not obsolete and churches are not defunct but they contradict the contemporary notion of an acceptable religion. They are not "reasonable," they are not "tolerant," they are not ecumenical, they are not "relevant." Quite the contrary!The author, Dean M. Kelley, was an executive at the National Council of Churches.
It is ironic that religious groups which persist in such "unreasonable" and "unsociable" behavior should be flourishing, while more "reasonable" and "sociable" bodies are not. It is not only ironic, but it suggests that our understanding of what causes a religious group to flourish is inadequate. Some dynamic seems to be at work that contradicts prevailing expectations.
(As quoted in Finke and Stark)
From Table 7.2 in Finke and Stark:
Membership per 1,000 Church Members (all denominations)
Episcopal1940, 31.4Southern Baptists
2000, 15.31940, 76.7Church of God in Christ
2000, 104.91940, 2.6