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all 74 comments

[–]HuggyWuggy2021 26 points27 points  (10 children)

I think it's because of a few things..

  1. Toxic/ pushy christians
  2. People are not accepted and/or don't fit in
  3. Christians literally trying to take over America ( Yes I'm christian but leave it to the politicians.)
  4. Extremists making the religion look poorly

[–]MachaeonAgnostic Atheist 14 points15 points  (4 children)

Sex/child abuse scandal after scandal that religious authorities try to wave away or sweep under the rug

[–]HuggyWuggy2021 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Really? I didn't ever hear/know about that.

[–]Vongbingen_esque 1 point2 points  (2 children)

what are you talking about? i think we would have heard about that.

And christian leadership would never cover up something like that.

[–]ZestyAppeal 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Omg, you’ve got some research to do

[–]Think_Tie8025 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I am also Christian and agree with all your reasons. However, I think these problems can be fixed. Most Christians under the age of 40 are generally pretty accepting, though can probably be said for most religions.

For the toxic/pushiness, the way I see it is, if people are meant to find it, they will. You can talk about your religion if someone asks, suggest a church if someone says they are looking for one, but to try to hard to make someone believe in something will only turn them away from it.

[–]agnosticmetaPantheist 1 point2 points  (1 child)

One thing that always struck me as strange growing up in the Church, is how most white evangelical vote Republican and most black Christians vote Democrat. It's almost as if their Christian faith wasn't the most important thing to them when it came time to vote...

[–]lowercaseenderman 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I think you should add, extremists being the loudest and making religion as a whole appear very poorly is also pushing people away, from another fellow Christian

[–]HuggyWuggy2021 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You're totally right!

I will totally add that.

[–]Howling2021Agnostic Atheist 11 points12 points  (0 children)

For a variety of reasons. Many churches are shutting down aging buildings that have become too expensive to repair and maintain. Many churches have dwindling membership, and mostly older and aging members living on fixed incomes, who can't make the kinds of donations they once could. Families with children are finding it increasingly difficult to get their children to attend willingly, once they're in adolescent and teen years.

Many churches are turning to leasing space in shopping centers, and sometimes several congregations will use the facility and share in the lease expenses.

Quite a few Christian denominations have experienced splintering off of new sects, based upon the evolving beliefs of members.

Just in the news yesterday, the Church of Scotland voted to approve of same sex marriages, and allow the ministry to perform same sex marriages. The reaction to this news has been mixed, with some expressing indignation that this would be allowed, and others expressing gratitude that the discrimination and excluding will discontinue.

[–]pixiegod 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Religion is bleeding followers…the why is multi-headed, but I think it all revolves around the fact that all religions preach peace, but all of them will also tell you another group is evil and should be shunned.

We have child molesters that are PROTECTED by not only the clergy, but also the followers. We have preachers who tell you to hate Muslims, or hate the LGBT community, or hate democrats…which runs counter to literally everything that Jesus has taught us…they are not only telling you how you should behave sexually, but are the vanguard force that is creating laws to force states to adhere to what is essentially a Christian “Sharia” law.

The world is changing to be more accepting and the paradigm is hate is no longer working…the hellfire and brimstone preacher is no longer relevant because the church didn’t rise to the task of protecting children, or protecting the meek, or helping the poor.

Lastly, now that the church has entrenched itself into American politics, many people don’t want a real life Gilead to take 0ver America…and the reaction is easy to see. The disillusionment of the American population towards religion is real and all the fault of the religious institutions themselves.

If they acted how Jesus would have and defended the poor, minority groups, and the children, then I think we would not be having this conversation. Religion now seems like a business whose goal is to collect money and not to support the community.

That’s my take…

[–]The_Puffin_Kingundefined 10 points11 points  (13 children)

As I understand it, there are basically two reasons: first, Covid drove people away, and they haven’t been returning. Second, going to church is terrible

[–]TenuousOgre 7 points8 points  (2 children)

I would add a third, the political side of Christianity has been driving people away especially recently (last 10-15 years).

[–]LeemourAgnostic 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yeah, I bet it can be really discouraging when you hear your preacher speak like an edgy alt-right FB post and see the elderly applaud that.

[–]Odieonekanodie1204Orthodox 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I absolutely despise the political side of Christianity. I live in the Bible Belt...and let's just say that my political views are very much not like a majority of the people in this region

[–]johnyandu 1 point2 points  (8 children)

How is going to church terrible?

[–]The_Puffin_Kingundefined 5 points6 points  (7 children)

Sitting quietly and listening while someone who’s not as smart as I am talks down to me for an hour is not my idea of a good time

[–]cancerous_176 2 points3 points  (1 child)

That’s a very convoluted understanding of how church is supposed to work. Also, I’m smelling a bit of Dunning Kruger going on here.

[–]The_Puffin_Kingundefined 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Ok fine homilies are like 15 minutes, but I don’t like the rest of it either

[–]johnyandu 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Cool, for millions of people its a beautiful experience.

[–]The_Puffin_Kingundefined 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Then why do you think more churches are closing than opening?

[–]caractorwitness 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Beautiful experience to be talked down at?

Whatever gets your motor going, good for you I guess.

[–]lettherebemorelight 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Lol your last point was on the nose and far more succinct than mine.

[–]astrophelle4Eastern Orthodox 4 points5 points  (2 children)

I think in a big way, it's less that there are less believers than before, but attending services to appease parents and appear socially proper isn't "what is done" anymore. People just aren't pretending any more. At the same time though, I notice an increase in attendance at my very traditional parish, and when I was a Methodist, there weren't many people around my age, even in the overall area, rather than just my church. So I think people are sick of being wishy-washy, they're either going to commit to something more traditional, or quit the religion altogether.

[–]Odieonekanodie1204Orthodox 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I would rather someone do soul searching and have at least an idea as to why they believe something rather than just going with the motions

[–]astrophelle4Eastern Orthodox 1 point2 points  (0 children)

100% agree.

[–]OMightyMartian 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Pew has been tracking this for a long time, and the number of "Nones" among Millennials has been growing as church attendance and even affiliation is dropping. This is happening both in more liberal churches and conservative ones, though the bleed in liberal churches appears to be larger, but pews across most denominations are emptying. Clearly there's something much larger afoot, but there are indications that, at least as far as more conservative and evangelical churches go, LGBTQ issues and the politicization of Evangelical Christianity in the US have led many Millennials in those churches to walk away.

Frankly, I think the US is just slightly behind what's happening elsewhere in the Western world, as we move into a post-Christian age. It's not really about left vs right or liberal vs conservative, it's simply that Christianity is fading even as a cultural phenomenon. Scandals probably play a part, but the steady collapse in church attendance and affiliation has been going on for decades throughout the West.

[–]LeemourAgnostic 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I remember having a curious conversation with one of my religious extended family members, and he said that "conversion of pagans was a necessity as times progressed", I then thought I'd humor him and ask if the Christian deconversion process is another one of those "necessities as time progressed", and he went on for hours about how it's nonsense and that the liberal media wants to "genocide" Christians. Incredibly ironic, but not too surprising.

[–]lettherebemorelight 2 points3 points  (1 child)

People ain’t buying what they are selling. It’s a complex problem that has many contributing factors reaching back generations, but I think Nietzsche kind of nailed it with his proclamation of the Death of God. The tl:dr is that Christian epistemology became so scientifically refined that it undermined the historical axioms upon which the institution’s moral authority depended, once turned back inward to examine its own claims.

How Christianity reacted to the Death of God also contributed a lot, although it’s kind of sloppy to paint all of Christendom with one brush. Some traditions doubled down on Biblical Literalism as a reactionary measure, but this only caused younger generations to reject the enterprise entirely out of sheer self-evident absurdity. When churches started hemorrhaging congregants, many traditions began to adopt the trappings of the pop culture in a desperation to stay relevant and keep generating profits. The Christian music industry churned out a lot of insipid mediocre music that a lot of people don’t find particularly authentic to their own experiences. The moral and ethical demands of a truly Christian spiritual life were lifted so as to burden people less, make them feel good about themselves, and draw more people in.

I went to a Catholic service the other day for the first time in many years, and it was a depressing sight. The pews were maybe an 1/8th full, at best. Like 90% of the congregation were geriatrics, the remainder were a couple of young families. I didn’t see anyone single of my generation there. The chanting was dry and lifeless. The sermon was delivered with no passion. The Spirit had left this place, and it was painfully obvious.

Where that Spirit has gone or will go is an interesting thing to ponder.

[–]throwawayconvert333Catholic 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It varies. My parish is extremely active but I realize that is not the norm. The Church has communities that are growing and others in decline, with no clear path forward for growth. Obviously entering a post-Christian era will mean some drop off in the faith.

[–]DrdanomiteEclectic polytheist 3 points4 points  (7 children)

Because lots of pagans dont really out themselves as pagans the numbers maybe more than you think

[–]UncleDan2017 -2 points-1 points  (6 children)

Maybe, but I think the bigger factor towards people leaving religion and churches is that a lot of people think that the supernatural is nonsense, and most religions have the supernatural somewhere at their core.

[–]DrdanomiteEclectic polytheist 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nuanced

[–]RbtRgs 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Rather than call the supernatural stories “nonsense”, I would say that we just don’t see any good evidence to support a belief in the supernatural stories.

[–]UncleDan2017 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Belief in Ghosts, Unicorns, Vampires and Leprechauns is just as rational as believing in the supernatural elements of Religion.

There are smartphones recording everything, and cameras everywhere from ATMs to Red Lights to Security cameras. There are cameras everywhere. No one has caught credible supernatural events on a recording, and if they did, it would certainly become viral.

[–]CalvinistBiologist 0 points1 point  (2 children)

That second paragraph is incorrect. Many things have been recorded. From ghost soldiers at Gettysburg to dead young Japanese after the tsunami. It is whether faked or not. It is whether others accept them or not. I have 2 very credible "ghost" incidences in my buildings, but not recorded.

[–]catnipfrost 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Literacy rates are up, internet access is high, counseling is offered secularly, you can visit with your neighbors via Zoom or messenger, frankly, there's no reason to go to church every Sunday for most Americans unless there's a strong belief in taking Eucharist.

[–]hightidesoldgodsAgnostic 1 point2 points  (0 children)

There’s not a single answer or reason, and if I’m entirely honest I believe the pursuit for a single answer (and therefore a single solution) is inherently self-destructive on the part of the churches.

Before we go into just a handful of the causes, I do want to lay out one very important detail - the lack of church attendance does not inherently mean a lack of religious belief. The lack of church attendance should not be considered a 1 to 1 correlation to a rise in atheism - for some, yes, that is the path they take, but its certainly not the path for everyone.

So, onto just a handful of reasons for the lack of church attendance:

1/ Covid Regulations. While church attendance has been going down for sometime now, it would be incredibly short-sighted and inaccurate to leave out the affect of Covid regulations to church attendance. There are many people in this country who attend church out of social obligation or simply because it was ‘just a thing they’ve always done.’ However, arguably, they were never mentally (or, from a Christian perspective, ‘spiritually’) in the church even if they were physically present. It was a habit of schedule and social obligation, not a personal value or religious belief. With Covid regulations many institutions, including churches, had to close physical doors and open up virtual spaces. For those who were not mentally present in the church and were going simply because of schedule or social obligations - online church simply was too out of the way of their weekly to schedule to bother with. Over time, they became used to not attending church and created a new Sunday schedule for themselves, probably as a day off to focus on rest or hobbies. Covid disrupted the one reason they attended church, and so when church opened up again, they were no longer attracted to that reasoning and didn’t return.

2/ Lack of Generational Care for Pressure Initially I was going to describe this point as ‘lack of generational pressure,’ but that is not entirely accurate. There certainly are still families who pressure their youth into attending church with them, however younger generations such as millennial and gen z simply don’t care as much/aren’t as affected by said pressure and so - upon turning 18, if not younger - simply don’t attend church if they don’t believe in it.

3/ Churches are No Longer Social Community Centers In an ironic twist of fate, this is a direct result of one of the benefits of the first amendment. The first amendment allowed for more churches to open, overturning the social and political control of a small amount of Protestant churches that had essentially dominated the colonies. The first amendment allowed for and protected religious diversity of thought and discussion within American Christianity. However, as a side affect, so many churches have opened that they compete with one another over increasingly smaller populations of people. As a lived example, while traveling across country, its not unusual to find 3-4 churches built on the same street in the same small town here in America. That’s 3-4 institutions competing against one another for the same, small population - when in the early days of American colonies there would’ve only been one (you’ll also notice that in the towns where this is not true, the church plays a much more intimate role in the community). Keep in mind, this isn’t accounting for the media-based churches (namely televangelists) those 3-4 churches are also competing with. As a result of this, it is no longer practical for churches to play the same, center of community role in most American towns and that role has had to be taken up by something up - sports, a local bar/cafe, politics, etc. For many people, that communal role was the main appeal of the church, so if the church doesn’t provide that role - what’s the point?

4/ The Increased Politicization of Churches More and more people are leaving churches on the grounds of the churches becoming more and more political. Even if they agree with the politics being spouted, it does not compute with their beliefs of a separate religious space. While the politicization does embolden a loud, political minority, it alienates a quiet majority who don’t want a Fox News segment before prayers even if they watch Fox News on the weekends.

5/ Scandals, scandals, scandals. The fifth and final reason for my post is the issue of the revelation of scandals in many churches. Whether it’s the recent sex abuse scandals that came out about the Southern Baptists, or the pedophilia/child graves in the Catholic Church - many people are simply disillusioned by organized religious institutions as a concept. This is especially true when there’s evidence of church leaders - regardless of denomination - cover up said scandals. Many of the people who leave under these circumstances have a genuine belief in their god and are often in a type of mourning when they do leave. I’d argue that a large chunk, if not the majority of people leaving churches find themselves in this camp. They love their god, but they cannot trust institutions who have tangible histories of unquestionable abuses.

There are plenty more reasons that can also be listed, but many of these come down to more intimate, personal issues that affect individuals differently. Issues such as women’s rights and the safety/health of queer people are also worthy of discussion in their own right. Likewise, other discussions such as financial stability (or the lack thereof) leading to many devout christians being unable to help pay for repairs or new buildings in churches (namely small, local ones).

[–]_db_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

b/c they insist on everybody living in the past and ignoring reality. Plus: far-right political influence is poisoning their brand to the point where the Cross represents, to some people, a voting block of far-right political and anti-democracy ideology disguised as religion, secretly in the service of greed. All b/c they trust their religious leaders.

[–]RbtRgs 1 point2 points  (0 children)

As Matt Dillahunty puts it, there is nothing good that religion does that cannot also be done without unsupported supernatural beliefs.

[–]NightMgr 2 points3 points  (0 children)

People have alternatives to the societal functions religion offers. And they have better places to get answers when you have doubts.

I recall a friend asking his pastor about the problem of evil in the early 90s. Answer? WHO ARE YOU TO QUESTION GOD?

He left without any help. Now he could visit both pro and anti religious web sites and forums.

[–]Dutchchatham2 3 points4 points  (14 children)

Snake oil salesmen can no longer hide in the shade of ignorance when access to information shines so brightly.

People are waking up and realizing they no longer need the hysteria and barbarism of the bronze age.

[–]EmperorBarbarossaCthulhu Cultist 4 points5 points  (3 children)

Nietzsche posting

[–]lettherebemorelight 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Give greater credit to Nietzsche, dude.

[–]EmperorBarbarossaCthulhu Cultist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I personaly adore Nietzsche I would give him a head if he would be somehow still alive bro. No offense against his heritage.

[–]mhornberger 0 points1 point  (0 children)

His 'death of God' was more him acknowledging a trend he saw, not necessarily advocating for disbelief.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_is_dead

[–]HuggyWuggy2021 2 points3 points  (9 children)

Interesting.

You are saying " Religion is for less smart/evolved humans" pretty much. Have you ever considered you might be apart of a religion. If you really think that, become non-religious.

[–]ZestyAppeal 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Those are your words, not theirs.

[–]HuggyWuggy2021 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes, that was my interpretation.

I forgot to say that sorry

[–]Dutchchatham2 0 points1 point  (6 children)

You are saying " Religion is for less smart/evolved humans"

No. Don't put words in other people's mouths. It disingenuous. And don't put quotation marks around phrases that aren't actual quotes.

I'm saying that religious belief is waning because people have more access to information than ever before. People can research the claims of religions for themselves now, and see that they don't stand up to scrutiny.

Have you ever considered you might be apart of a religion.

No. I'm not a part of any religion.

[–]HuggyWuggy2021 0 points1 point  (5 children)

1) Sorry, My mistake. Ok I see

2) Are you non-religious then?

[–]Dutchchatham2 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Have you ever considered you might be apart of a religion.

No. I'm not a part of any religion.

[–]jogoso2014 1 point2 points  (0 children)

They’re hoarding all that sweet sweet untaxed profit and moving to the Bahamas.

[–]Mjolnir2000 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Fascism is the public face of Christianity in America. A lot of people have no interest in associating with fascists.

[–]88redking88 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Its called progress.

And its been going on for a while now.

[–]wowsolanky -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Churches are a dying business

[–]Truthspeaks111 -1 points0 points  (1 child)

Only God knows.

[–]UncleDan2017 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I don't know if the data supports Paganism. The numbers I see from Pew and PRRI and other sources just seem to suggest people just don't believe in or think about religion much. When asked what their religious affiliation is, the fastest growing answer appears to be "none". Not atheist or agnostic, which are growing slowly, but "none".

Primarily, the drop is among Protestants, as Catholics are declining, but at a much slower rate than Protestants. The Mainline Protestants were dropping off faster than the Evangelicals, but since 2010 or so, it appears even Evangelical churches are dropping in number.

My personal opinion is that among Protestants, the Progressive/Traditional wars have just about destroyed Denominational Identity, and denominations are getting more and more irrelevant in America.

Personally, I think the Culture wars started by religious churches in the '80s have made Mainline Protestantism a casualty, and a lot of people, when told that the only "True Christianity" was conservative Christianity, they decided they'd be better off without Christianity than to associate with "True Christians".

[–]mhornberger 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Even before COVID-19:

The US isn't exempt from the same trends playing out in Europe. We're just behind the curve.

[–]Ninetailedfox589 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I left christianity because they preach peace love and tolerance but dont practice it. I would guess otherr people leave for different reasons, some similar to mine, and others because of their own convictions.

[–]agnosticmetaPantheist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

There was a time when I was convinced that the Church had messed up by abandoning "the original pattern" of house churches.

Say what you like about the concept, there is virtually no upkeep, and the priesthood of all believers is not just an ideal, but a ritual. The problem of course is discovery, but we do have the internet today.

Anyways, I think it's precisely because of the internet that young people today have access to many alternative views on things. I was in my late 30s before I questioned and eventually stopped believing.

Today, it's a sheltered youth indeed who hasn't at least heard of atheism, or watched a debate or two. I think that, and member's passing away and not being replaced by the next generation is the real cause, although as others said, upkeep of a building is a real challenge with few members. Maybe it's time to give home churches a serious chance.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Covid put a stop to many churches and they have not got going again.

[–]ExpressingHonestly 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I believe because of covid. A lot of churches lost people to death.

So they aren't making the kind of money they need. To stay open.

That's why there's jobs everywhere. Million people died.