Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The New Apostasy

Funny, someone was just asking me about this:
More and more people are trading religious affiliation for secularism, but it's not necessarily because they're losing their faith, a sociology professor told an audience Monday at the University of Wisconsin- Parkside.


Apostasy is a decline in traditional beliefs; disaffiliation is a turning away from organized religion. According to the surveys, Thompson said, the fastest growing religion in America is "none."

The people who have turned against organized religion are more likely to be geographically mobile, Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, Democrats, male, white, fairly liberal, well-educated and urban dwellers, Thomas said.

The phenomenon also is occurring among some middle-class blacks, particularly black Methodists. Their demographics mirror those of their white counterparts.

Rather, it's because traditional, organized religion is not meeting their needs, Wayne Thompson said.

'Quite a few people are dropping out of traditional religion and considering other secular views,' said Thompson, who teaches sociology at Carthage College. 'Religion has competition. There are a variety of experiences that influence them.'"

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous janinsanfran said...

I was interested in these bits in this article. Many have traditional beliefs but haven't found a comfortable niche in the religious marketplace. They're not disinterested in faith but existing vendors are not meeting their needs. It goes along with disconnection from other institutions and community involvement.This morning my parish was Exhibit A of a "redevelopment project" at an Episcopal congregational development officers' conference.

There were quite clearly two currents in the attendees questions about our progress. One set asked mostly about numerical growth and sustainability (real questions, BTW!). It was pretty clear that attracting any regular bodies who helped meet those goals would be fine with that set; in the terms of this article, I think the expectation is that we can somehow swoop up some of the disaffiliated. And that does not seem impossible.

Another set were essentially asking whether we could grow by sharing the Good News with unbaptized persons, presumably secular. There was a lovely idealism behind this line of thought -- if we claim to have Light, are we spreading it?

But there is a third something pointed out in what I have quoted above -- general disaffection from community institutions and involvement. That no one was talking about.

One of the main growth problems of our parish is precisely that the existing people of the parish are community activists, but not through the church. They come to the parish for refreshment from existing labors, not to create a demand on themselves for more labor. And they probably seem incomprehensible Martians to their more normal, uninvolved neighbors, who my have different needs and consequently are not attracted to THIS church.

All worth thinking more about.


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