Entirely anecdotal but, like stereotypes, anecdotes have something of the truth in them.
In a last minute costume grab, my son dressed like this (like me) for Halloween:
I failed to persuade him to just go with the black robe and wear black sunglasses and go as Neo from The Matrix. Not having seen the movie, he was skeptical and thought he’d get more laughs impersonating his Dad. An hour into Halloween, he realized he could also be taken for Ethan Hunt in Mi3 (when Ethan breaks into the Vatican) so he jettisoned Dad.
Anyway, as my son traipsed through the neighborhood not 1 mile from my church not less than 5 different candy-distributing adults thought he’d dressed up not as a priest, pastor, parson, reverend, or clergyman but as….Harry Potter.
Seriously, Harry Potter.
Not only people not know the story of Jesus anymore they can’t recognize those who steward that story for a living.
Dropped my car off at the dealership for an oil change. Service guy sees the bible on my front seat. Asks if I’m a Christian.
I reply ‘No, I’m a pastor.’
He squints, unknowing. The sarcasm lost in what is his second language.
‘A priest’ I correct.
He smiles and smacks my back. Then he proceeds to tell me (in excruciating detail, mind you) how he grew up in Bangladesh, how he’s Muslim but was educated K-college by in Catholic schools.
Then, I kid you not, he started talking to me about Duns Scotus, contingency and causality.
Look it up.
Where the Halloween families a stone’s throw from my sanctuary would most certainly identify themselves as Christian for a census-taker but could not ID a clergy costume, a Muslim mechanic from Bangladesh was equipped to talk the finer points of ancient Christian metaphysics.
Strange times and proof, I think, that the challenge for Christians is greater than we imagine.