America boasts more Christians than any other country on planet Earth. But you wouldn’t know it from listening to us.

According to Google Ngram Viewer data, a searchable database of millions of printed works stretching back 500 years, most of the central terms in the Christian vocabulary are rapidly declining. One 2012 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology, for example, analyzed 50 moral terms associated with Christianity and found that a whopping 74 percent were used less frequently over the course of the last century

“Grace” … declined

“Mercy” … declined

“Wisdom” … declined

“Faith” … declined

“Sacrifice” … declined

“Honesty” … declined

“Righteousness” … declined

“Evil” … declined

As David Brooks pointed out in The New York Times a few years ago, even basic moral and religious words are fading from use. For example, more general language about the virtues Christians call “the fruit of the Spirit” — love, patience, gentleness, faithfulness — has become much rarer. . . .

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Written by Jonathan