In a recent blog, I asked why people were attending church. (I honestly don’t get it. I yearn for a job that makes enough money so I would never, ever, have to set foot in one of those insane asylums ever, ever again.) So here is the companion blog.
If you’re interested in reading a Pastor’s take on it, Brandon Cox posted a very thoughtful and eloquent list of 15 reasons here:
I would recommend this list to any priest or preacher. However – I think he’s missing a major point. He framed these issues as current problems and Covid problems. I remember conversations with Priests/Preachers back in the 90’s, when they realized that they were competing with TV and Movies and Videogames and Concerts and they were losing.
Yes, Covid has forced a lot of people to watch services on YouTube. That’s the new part of the exodus. I have two preachers as Facebook friends. They are SO excited to post their sermons on YouTube. They seem to think it will bring crowds into the tiny little churches that they barely manage to keep open. I’m waiting to see what happens.
But nobody seems to add the teens to 40-year-old demographic to the list. Most of this demographic is scientifically literate. Most of this demographic knows that racism is evil, that gay and trans people are people, and that women should be equal to men. I remember, a few years back, when a xtian organization drew a lot of fire for refusing to accept help from an atheist organization. (Yes, I was part of the atheist group.) Folks weren’t fooled, they saw that as performative and exclusionary, and said so – loudly. They see the behavior of President Jimmy Carter, helping to build homes in his 90’s, as true xtianity – and they don’t see that from most churches. (I’m not slamming all churches here – I have been in a few who give generously to the poor, every week, and are properly quiet about their work, and willing to accept help from anyone.)
A huge number of teens – 40’s these days see the behavior of the Church re: Trump, Covid, LGBTQ+, BLM, gun control, abortion, and many other issues and it’s simply NOT WHO THEY WANT TO BE.
There was a request that popped up on my Facebook page just two days ago – which, combined with Cox’s list, inspired this blog.
My family and I are looking for a new church. We are hoping to find one that is inclusive and diverse, particularly toward LGBTQ+, immigrants, and multi-racial families. Exceptional music and children/youth programs are also important to us. It would be a bonus to us if there is a choir/band/orchestra. I’m starting to believe we are hunting for a unicorn church… Do you all have any recommendations?”
To me, that says it all. Right there. And Preachers really need to pay attention.
Reddit asked people why they stopped going to church and got a lot of good responses. It’s worth a read. https://god.dailydot.com/reddit-stopped-going-church/?fbclid=IwAR1wm9ftpfWdP74hihq4ILjXJMP7TTatx-JgX0hEJzKG5DwfSYzCCXwKb90
I grabbed a few of Cox’s points and put my own snarky spin on them. Here ya go.
REJECTION OF SCIENCE. Somewhere between 38 – 47% of evangelicals believe in young-earth creationism. That’s outrageous.
SUPERSTITIONS. I read a 2020 article that claimed that exorcisms are on the rise. Seriously? (An interesting aside: Atheists never get possessed by demons.) I would bet a good sum of money that there are preachers out there that have said that Covid was sent by god to punish the (insert hated group du jour here).
CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM. America is a xtian nation, blessed by god, biblical laws should be the law of the land, and all of that bullsh_t. All combined with xenophobia and expansive hatred of anyone who is non-xtian. It obviously feels good to be in your tribal group and confirm each other’s belief that your god is the best, god made your country the best, and anyone who disagrees with you is evil. Riiiight. Mmm, younger woke folks know TRIBAL is bad, m’kay? And that America has a lot of problems that need fixing, m’kay? Like White Christian Nationalism, for a start.
LITERAL READING OF THE BIBLE. There are still a lot of churches out there that demand their congregation accept a literal reading of the Bible without question. They insist that it is perfect, written by god himself. They require their sheeple to accept a 6,000 year old Earth, a great flood, a sun that can move backwards, talking snakes and donkeys, walking on water, the tower of Babel, etc. Scientifically literate folks who attempt to read the Bible will quickly point out that there are two different creation myths in Genesis. Which will get them thrown out.
CONSPIRACY THEORIES. Is it any wonder that racist, xenophobic, judgmental, hate-filled narcissists embraced Q as a prophet? That most QAnon followers claim to be xtian? After all, they believe in demons and unicorns, virgin birth, a god who gleefully commits genocide, and they yearn for the day their “savior” will come back and slaughter all unbelievers. Get em’ young believing in magic and murder and this is how they’ll turn out.
MEGA-CHURCHES AND RICH PREACHERS. There are mega-church concerts and charismatic preachers in every big city now. A lot of younger xtians attend these mega-churches. A few have told me that they go because the music is awesome and they get to sit with their friends and sing. A few said that the star preacher always said something that made them feel good and gave them something to think about. Well, at least they’re competing with concerts and video games, right?
IGNORING POVERTY. Some churches care and minister to the poor. Go find those. MANY couldn’t be bothered to care for the poor. In fact, prosperity theology often goes so far as to say that the poor are not true xtians, because if they were devout enough, they would be rich. Prosperity preachers impoverish their own followers by promising that member donations will bring “blessings” – and modern adults watch their parents throwing their money at preachers and then not being able to pay the rent.
DENIAL OF RACISM. A lot of white Republican preachers are MAGATs and proud racists. There’s Jesse Hursey, a Baptist preacher, who was so enraged by a Black Lives Matter sign at a Trump Rally that he screamed “White Power” and was caught on video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkJZPqSiA3M Another North Carolina preacher urinated on a black woman during a plane flight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuH8gR1FQGU Then there’s Tennessee Preacher Donnie Reagan, who was voted the most racist pastor in America after ranting about interracial marriage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NqyM8WD_-U The videos are everywhere – preaching racism from the pulpit. The majority of young Americans want to eradicate racism, not join the KKK.
MISOGYNY AND PATRIARCHY. There are still churches out there who take 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34 very literally. Only males in any position of authority. We have preachers like Stewart Allen Clark, who demanded that wives should lose weight and try to be a “trophy wife” like Melania Trump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWKSNS_ucA0 We have preachers like Jeff Jansen, saying that the church has gone “homosexual”, it’s no longer strong and manly, and saying that his armed church security guards know to shoot anyone who starts causing trouble. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD_2sLkMDCM Videos like these by the thousands are showing up on cellphones across America. The vast majority of young Americans do not want to align themselves with misogynists, gun nuts, conspiracy theorists, homophobes, and Nazis.
THE ABORTION ISSUE. Pro-life only until the baby is born. Pro-life, but the death penalty and gun violence and starvation and homelessness are somebody else’s problems. Pro-life, but only when it applies to women’s bodies and women’s decisions.
SEXUAL ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Preachers and priests are constantly caught abusing children, having adulterous affairs, etc., and they are still being sheltered by the church. Women and children are still being beaten in their homes and clergy turns a blind eye. Women are still being told to be obedient and submissive so they won’t get beaten. There are churches where corporal punishment of children is preached as good and necessary from the pulpit, because the Bible says so: Proverbs 23:13 “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” And it’s definitely not a coincidence that areas with the highest incidence of rape have a church on every corner.
HATRED. There are many preachers like Stephen Anderson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPRTMscoy-c Kill homosexuals. It’s a sin to NOT beat your kids. And much, much more.
Young Americans see Evangelicals as exclusionary, anti-science, white nationalist, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, judgmental, and angry.
Why would anyone want to be like them?