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Thread: Is the Church Dying?

  1. #1

    Default Is the Church Dying?

    A recent study of religious trends in the UK caught my eye last week. It indicates that more and more people identify as having no religion rather than sticking to any form of Christianity. This study was done by Stephen Bullivant, a senior lecturer of theology and ethics at St. Mary's Catholic University.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...nd-wales-study

    The study states that "The number of people who say they have no religion is rapidly escalating and significantly outweighs the Christian population in England and Wales." The percentage of people who identified as non-religious reached 48.5 percent in 2014, nearly double the figure of 25 percent in the 2011 census. People who identify themselves as Christian – Anglicans, Catholics and other denominations – made up 43.8 percent of the population.

    This should come as no surprise to church members and ministers who can't help but notice the dwindling numbers in their congregations, particularly in the traditional Catholic denominations. Many churches are facing the prospects of amalgamating or shutting down.

    The trends are similar in other countries, including Canada (where I'm from). 25 percent of Canadians, or 7.8 million people, identified themselves as non-religious in the 2011 census. This was a significant increase from the 16.5 percent from the 2001 census, and 12 percent who identified as non-religious back in 1991.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...n_3283268.html

    A 2012 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life identified the ratio of Americans unaffiliated to churches or institutions at just under 20 percent. It also discovered that more than a quarter of American adults have left their faith in favor of another religion or abandoning religion. The UK study also indicated that the churches have not been active in recruiting new members, which could also be leading to their demise. We live in a world of increasing rational thought, well publicized church scandals, the beliefs of new immigrants, and changing social attitudes which have led to legalizing same sex marriages and a woman's right to choose. If the church cannot adapt to changing times and evolving cultures, it will get left behind as more and more people, especially younger people, look elsewhere for a sense of communion and succour.


    The evidence seems to show the church is dying, or at least on life support. Does religion still have a place in our modern society? Does it have the same level of influence in our day-to-day lives? Can an institution be relevant when it won't allow its women to be priests. Are there other doctrines we can follow that define a moral, compassionate society without religion (I'm a Humanist myself).

    You could say that religion provides a set of guidelines and principles in how to live our lives with meaning, yet so much harm and violence has been committed in the name of God – the Crusades, the Inquisition, terrorism in Palestine, and so much carnage that it is difficult to maintain that belief in God guarantees morality. It would seem to be intolerant to claim that only people with religion are moral, and that those who are not religious are amoral or less righteous. I believe in a compassionate society, one that is based on caring and compassion. I think most people believe in the same thing. I think more people, however, are coming to the conclusion that it does not need to be based upon a fear or love of God, nor obedience to commandments or a book written thousands of years ago, but rather on an internalized, innate sense of right and wrong.
    Last edited by Starrunner; 29-May-2016 at 16:30.

  2. #2
    MarchinBunny

    Default

    As society becomes more open minded, the younger generation grows up with that open mindedness. It's coming to a point where religion for young people just doesn't make any sense. They may still believe in a god, but it's certainly not going to be the one from any sort of biblical book. I also think the newer generations are just smarter . They are subjected to a whole lot more information then they would had been if it wasn't for the internet. In the past, you where told things by your parents, and they where a large portion of the information you got, as well as from school, which many where highly religious back then too, at least in the US. So you ended up being indoctrinated into a religion.

    Another thing I think the younger generation realizes is that despite what many believe, it's possible to be moral without religion and in most cases the non religious tend to do a better job of it. Religion at times can give you a warped sense of morality. You could be harming someone but still think it's moral because your religion tells you so. We also see the hypocrisy. Many Christians for example want to put bibles back in science class, but then they flip out if you bring any other sort of religious book into the class as well. Many religious folk look down on Muslims, when the reality of the it is, their religion is likely just as bad or close to as bad in some cases.

    There was a time when humanity believed in many gods. We are already down to one. It's only a matter of time before we hit zero.

  3. #3

    Default

    In general I'd say yes, but it's been happening for a long time.

    Organized religion as a whole seems to be trying to modernize itself, shifting away from literal interpretations as mounting scientific understanding makes them seem absurd and de-focusing on social views that social progress is making unpopular. The going trend now is to describe most of the bible as a metaphor or an "interpretation by man" vs as the hard truth as it once was.

    Religion may and probably will survive, but it'll certainly hold a decreasing significance in our day to day lives going forward. We're already well past scientists being executed for daring to investigate how the universe might actually work.

  4. #4

    Default

    I'm always gobsmacked by these polls. The UK one, for example, shows that nearly half of the population is Christian, with the same number following no religion.

    Where do they find these religious people?! I've worked in many offices with 30 to 100 people, and there's never been more than two openly Christian people. There are usually twice as many Muslims.

    Out of all my non-work friends and acquaintances, only one couple are Christian, with the other 95% fairly staunch atheists. Out of all the neighbours I know in the village where I live, one is Christian, there are a handful of non-practising agnostics, but the vast majority are atheist.

    There was a Christian Union (CU) at my school. Out of 1300 pupils, about eight kids belonged to the CU. Religion was completely irrelevant to everyone else.

    When Tony Blair came out as a Christian, the media and public opinion sneered suspiciously at the revelation, wondering whether a belief in the supernatural was a desirable trait for someone who is supposed to be leading the country.

    Religion died long ago (in the UK, at least). What is most puzzling is the way that these polls seem to give a fundamentally different picture. I think a lot of (older) Brits see religious affiliation as a trait like ethnicity. When saying, "I'm Church of England (sic)" or "I'm Roman Catholic", what people mean is that historically their ancestors belonged to such groups. My father, for instance, always claimed to be CofE, yet never attended Church, never prayed, never made any reference to religion at all, never got us Christened, didn't believe in the supernatural, etc. Yet thought that being CofE was part of his birth identity.

    Church attendance is probably a more reliable way to gauge religiosity. According to the Telegraph, 1.4% of Brits attend Anglican churches on Sunday.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/reli...ecord-low.html

  5. #5

    Default

    In America at least, there's always going to be religion. It's not going to come from new converts, it's going to come from the people who start brainwashing their kids at an early age. Then those kids grow up to brainwash their own, and the cycle continues. Unless there's some kind of gigantic scientific revelation that completely smashes everything in the Bible or other religious texts, it's not going away. In the county where I live, there's one town that pretty much has a church on every corner.






    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    I'm always gobsmacked by these polls. The UK one, for example, shows that nearly half of the population is Christian, with the same number following no religion.

    Where do they find these religious people?! I've worked in many offices with 30 to 100 people, and there's never been more than two openly Christian people. There are usually twice as many Muslims.

    Out of all my non-work friends and acquaintances, only one couple are Christian, with the other 95% fairly staunch atheists. Out of all the neighbours I know in the village where I live, one is Christian, there are a handful of non-practising agnostics, but the vast majority are atheist.

    There was a Christian Union (CU) at my school. Out of 1300 pupils, about eight kids belonged to the CU. Religion was completely irrelevant to everyone else.

    When Tony Blair came out as a Christian, the media and public opinion sneered suspiciously at the revelation, wondering whether a belief in the supernatural was a desirable trait for someone who is supposed to be leading the country.

    Religion died long ago (in the UK, at least). What is most puzzling is the way that these polls seem to give a fundamentally different picture. I think a lot of (older) Brits see religious affiliation as a trait like ethnicity. When saying, "I'm Church of England (sic)" or "I'm Roman Catholic", what people mean is that historically their ancestors belonged to such groups. My father, for instance, always claimed to be CofE, yet never attended Church, never prayed, never made any reference to religion at all, never got us Christened, didn't believe in the supernatural, etc. Yet thought that being CofE was part of his birth identity.

    Church attendance is probably a more reliable way to gauge religiosity. According to the Telegraph, 1.4% of Brits attend Anglican churches on Sunday.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/reli...ecord-low.html
    It's rather interesting that in other places Christianity has become little more than an afterthought while in America there are people who live their lives by it (and try to control the lives of others with their beliefs as well).

  6. #6

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by KimbaStarshine View Post
    Unless there's some kind of gigantic scientific revelation that completely smashes everything in the Bible or other religious texts, it's not going away.
    Uh... haven't there been countless scientific revelations that show how wrong the Bible is...? :-/

    The Bible kind of "completely smashes" itself with all the contradictions, anyway.



    Quote Originally Posted by KimbaStarshine View Post
    In the county where I live, there's one town that pretty much has a church on every corner.
    There are quite a few churches here in the UK too -- we've been building them for a thousand years! A lot of people are interested in preserving them (for architectural and historical reasons). With negligible church service attendance, many churches are trying to find other ways to fund themselves.

    Some have been converted into nightclubs, bars, cafes or flats; many are used as community centres for (non-religious) support groups or for adult education, or as function rooms to host meetings. Around 30 churches a year are closed as they become redundant for religious purposes.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redundant_church
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...gion-buildings
    http://www.economist.com/news/britai...y-week-fit-new

  7. #7

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    Uh... haven't there been countless scientific revelations that show how wrong the Bible is...? :-/

    The Bible kind of "completely smashes" itself with all the contradictions, anyway.



    There are quite a few churches here in the UK too -- we've been building them for a thousand years! A lot of people are interested in preserving them (for architectural and historical reasons). With negligible church service attendance, many churches are trying to find other ways to fund themselves.

    Some have been converted into nightclubs, bars, cafes or flats; many are used as community centres for (non-religious) support groups or for adult education, or as function rooms to host meetings. Around 30 churches a year are closed as they become redundant for religious purposes.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redundant_church
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...gion-buildings
    http://www.economist.com/news/britai...y-week-fit-new
    Well, us non-Christians know that science has discredited religion pretty well. But what I mean is that if we had some type of absolute proof on the origins of the universe; something that religious people could find nothing to counter with.

  8. #8

    Default

    I don't think there will every be absolute scientific understanding of everything, however as more stuff gets covered off by science and more of the bible is hand waved as being metaphor, young people are going to find it harder to buy into religion. From an outside view, I see the religious argument as "yeah, 90% of this book isn't meant to be taken literally, but we're pretty damn sure this 10% here is right!".

    Already been said, but we're not seeing many converts these days, it's largely a momentum thing at this point. Such a system will gradually (and currently is) dwindle.

  9. #9

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by KimbaStarshine View Post
    In America at least, there's always going to be religion. It's not going to come from new converts, it's going to come from the people who start brainwashing their kids at an early age.
    We'll see. I'm not sure the savior of religion is going to be this sort of "inheritance factor", though. Christianity and other religions may be like icebergs melting in a warm ocean of science, but these icebergs all have rocks at their cores which will probably never disintegrate completely--because as belief "systems", they offer the kind of certainty and guidance in life that scientific discoveries usually don't. And adult life is a trying experience. I suspect that even the most hardened atheists do at least wish that the sort of existential questions so concretely answered by the Bible--albeit in rather disharmonious ways--were answered in some scientifically satisfying way for them, too. The difference is that successful atheists/freethinkers are able to wrap themselves in the wonder of our expanding universe and so buffer themselves from the irritation of seemingly unanswerable questions. Not everybody can do that, and that doesn't make them "bad". It just makes them hard to understand--for the atheists among us.

    Honestly, I have the same trouble understanding religious people that I do understanding sports fans. And many of the sports fans I know are religious! Hmmm...

    Anyway. Religion will always be earning new converts because, while the science behind the Big Bang and the ensuing evolution of the universe might squash the details of the book of Genesis, it's hard to imagine science being able to sneak a look at what happened before the Big Bang and why, whereas the scriptures can do whatever they want. Science can have religion fully surrounded, but those in need of comfort about what happens why we die, why we are here, etc., are simply never going to surrender that.

  10. #10

    Default

    Here's another story that never fails to boggle my mind. Some churches are giving away free guns and semi-automatic rifles in order to bring people back into the fold. Simply astounding.

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/201...-follow-jesus/

    When in doubt, always ask yourself: What would Jesus shoot?
    Last edited by Starrunner; 29-May-2016 at 23:15.

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