Sunday, 28 December 2014

Why the Churches are Failing

There's an interesting article - actually a chapter excerpted from the book Living the Secular Life - currently up on that seeks to explain the ongoing secularisation of American society. Phil Zuckerman identifies identifies three major influences and two supporting factors. The 'big three' are:

1. Reaction against the Religious Right. "The rise of irreligion has been partially related to the fact that lots of people who had weak or limited attachments to religion and were either moderate or liberal politically found themselves at odds with the conservative political agenda of the Christian right and thus reacted by severing their already somewhat weak attachment to religion."

2. Catholicism's pedophile priest scandals. "Not only were the actual sexual crimes themselves morally abhorrent, but the degree to which those in positions of power sought to cover up these crimes and allow them to continue was truly shocking. The result has been clear: a lot of Catholics have become ex-Catholics."

3. The dramatic increase in women in the paid work force. "[W]hen more and more women work outside the home, their religious involvement—as well as that of their families— tends to diminish."

The first of the two further factors Zuckerman identifies is greater understanding and tolerance toward gay people ("The fact that Americans today between the ages of eighteen and thirty are the generation most accepting of homosexuality in the nation’s history, and are simultaneously those least interested in being religious—and the fact that the states that have legalized gay marriage tend to be among the most secular—might be coincidental, but I highly doubt it.")

And then there's the influence of the Internet. No longer can voices of dissent be stifled, and no longer can religious communities insulate themselves intellectually from what is happening out in the wider world.

There's a lot here that rings true for other Western nations also.

(Tip of the cheese cutter to Allen Dexter who posted the link on FB).


  1. Also the massive educational chasm between Catholic leaders and laity: The leaders/Jesuits don't believe the bible but teach the simple it is real - a lie - but then that's what Christianity is all about - like the first Gospel: its writer knew it was fiction, but good enough for the peasants - a lie - later Gospel writers, calling themselves witnesses, plagiarized the original - another pack of lies. Even the ignorant laity are beginning to see through the ruse and Popes Francis and Tkach are having to double down on the deceit.

  2. What does Zuckerman mean when he writes: "joined the ranks of the nonreligious"? This cannot be instantly equated with a move toward secularism. It may, in fact, reflect the dwindling engagement with denominationalism. This has been a trend for sometime, But Froese and Bader have found that the vast majority of Americans believe in God, albeit they define God along four different themes. Atheism apparently forms a stable 5% of the population. A recent study cited by NPR stated that most people rate the trustworthiness of atheists at the same level as rapists. These are not bellwethers of a great rush to secularism.

    -- Neo

  3. Many thoughts came to mind as I read this, but I'll give only two. Both reminded me of Joe Tkach Senior, who died in 1995. First, one of the last things Tkach told his WCG followers before he died was, stay away from the Internet. Second, I think Zukerman missed a point. He mentioned changing attitudes toward homosexuality, but there is also a changing attitude away from capital punishment. The USA is about the only developed country that still does it, though people in many other countries are happy enough to see a suspected criminal shot dead by the police before getting a chance to go through the justice system. I recall Tkach, in his 1994 FOT telecast, suddenly stopping his sermon and launching into a rant about how much cheaper it is to execute a criminal than to keep him in prison. That rant was one of the big things that turned me off the WCG, even though I stayed in it for a few more years.