Traditional Churches in Bible Belt closing paving the way for churches in Bars, and Movie Theaters

(ETH) Amid dozens of church closures in the heart of the Bible Belt, some in South Carolina are planting congregations in bars, movie theaters, and in homes. South Carolina newspaper The State reported Thursday that across the traditionally conservative state, many churches have closed — 97 since 2011 — and others are slowly dying, reflecting a nationwide trend, yet there is new growth amid the decay.

Reflecting on the article Thursday, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington D.C., noted that the South Carolina newspaper’s account of the unconventional ways of doing church shows that stories of decline are “more complicated than church shrinkage … as people leave old denominations, especially Mainline Protestant, in favor of newer churches.”

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