It’s Sunday in my small town. It used to be said that the only traffic jam we had was when people went to church on Sunday mornings. But there’s no traffic jam. There’s barely a car on the road.
Religious affiliation in the U.S. is declining. Churches are left scrambling–what to do with their building? What to do with their remaining people? In a desperate attempt to find new, younger, church members, our state legislature passed a bill to give public school money to parents so they could pay private schools, many with religious affiliations. These people, of course, are Republicans, which gives a big signal as to why some people don’t want to go to church anymore. You might not be a Republican, but you’ll have to deal with them, and here in Iowa, they’ve done enough damage. They are so mad about groups of people who might not be Republicans that they are doing things like underpaying nurses at the U of Iowa hospitals. Some want to ban books and get upset about gender. They might litter their yards with signs connecting Trump with Faith. Here in Pella, many displayed both Trump and the religious private school affiliation. I’m from a religious family but politics sullied religion and Trump made the hypocrisy all too clear.
I went to a church which had a big church fight twenty plus years ago. Why were some people mad? I’m not sure but most turned out to be conservative. One reason cited was the minister saying the church should be more welcoming to gay people. Another item people had a fault with was praying for peace. The angry in the congregation took their money and left. What did this say? Even God couldn’t escape the long fingers of the well-moneyed.
The issue of gay rights is sometimes a turning point. One person I spoke with had friends who came out as gay. They expected the church to come around and lovingly embrace these members. Instead, the church got more conservative. The pastor even compared gay marriage to beastiality in a sermon. It came off as cruel. The person didn’t want to stay silent, couldn’t do it. They left the church and the denomination, moving to a “social justice” church. (According to Pew, affluence and secularism contribute to accepting homosexuality even though gay people aren’t necessarily affluent. It is more a sign of security.)
One person became disenchanted with spiritual dancers in church –seeing them as young girls in nightgowns writhing around sexually in a church which wouldn’t allow gays to perform in any capacity.
Like schools, churches had to adapt to covid. This is when many pastors found out how much misinformation their parishioners absorbed on a constant basis. One pastor had an uphill battle in his request for people to wear masks. The no-masks won. One outspokenly anti-mask octogenarian ended up with covid, spent months in the hospital, and was out in time to attend the minister’s good-bye party–without a mask. Feeling that churches are “too germy” is another reason people avoid going there.
“Churches don’t show love and culturally, the mean aspects of Christianity are taking over. Secular people are nicer,” is one thing I was told when I asked.
Allegedly, “alienation” isn’t the only reason people are leaving churches. Church isn’t the marriage market it used to be. Being home surrounded by technology is considered fun. Others have become comfortable with “caving.” Gym membership is also down. Possibly, people are finding that belonging to something that gives you a strong sense of identity in reality, stunts your ability to belong to the human race. This could be due to the authoritarian flair some memberships rely on.
Some simply stop believing. One person told me “it’s hard to take a book that has a talking snake literally.”
I don’t have the answer to this. The internet is filled with stories of people who have lost their faith and gotten it back. However, fewer young parents are raising their kids with religion. The studies show, these kids will be just as moral. Which brings up the question, without some sort of manufactured crisis, will many people even want to use school vouchers for a religious school? I honestly hope not.
4 thoughts on “Do you still go to church?”
in other states with vouchers the majority of folks using them are already enrolled in private (largely christian) schools and as i’m sure you know iowa (especially iowa repuglicans) has higher rates of folks who identify with christianities then in blue states, i doubt our Gov and her cronies have given much thought to the big picture but the moneyed interests pushing all these matters would like to do away with public education altogether and the more they can get kids off the state’s books (while undermining those who remain) the better for them. There is an excellent book on all of this called The Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door by @BisforBerkshire
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She is already speaking to this group. She knows what she is doing. When I worked at a private school, she visited and gave away her dislike of public schools. https://www.mediamatters.org/critical-race-theory/unmasking-moms-liberty
I take it yer referring to the Gov? It’s clear that she is all for tax dollars for private schools and would like to replace secular ed with religious ed, not sure she is for doing away with all tax dollars for education like the Koch types are. The local press surely isn’t going to ask but so I guess time will tell…
I’m not familiar with the situation in your state, but I was sad to hear about the break-up of the church you went to.
I do go to church. It’s a small-town church, and I feel very comfortable in it. There are no Bigwigs or prominent folks, just a group of down-to-earth folks who ask about your well-being and genuinely want to know. The best part? I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with someone there about politics.
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