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US Church Attendance Falls below 50% for the first time


vcczar
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Religion Poll  

17 members have voted

  1. 1. See my first comment. Do you view this news as positive, negative, or other?

    • More positive than negative
    • Unsure/don't care
    • More negative than positive
  2. 2. Do you have a positive view of the Religious Right?

    • Mostly Yes
    • Conflicted
    • Mostly No
    • Don't really care or know
      0
  3. 3. Did you grow up with a religion? If so, which?

    • Mainline protestant (Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, etc.)
    • Mainline Catholic
    • Unitarian or other non-evangelical, non-mainstream Christian religion
      0
    • Evangelical Catholicism
    • Evangelical Protestant
    • Non-evangelical, non-denominational Christian
    • Mormon
      0
    • Eastern Orthodox
    • Coptic Christian
      0
    • Other Christian that doesn't fit here
      0
    • Islam
      0
    • Judaism
      0
    • Hindu
      0
    • Buddhist
      0
    • Other that can't be categorized here
  4. 4. Do you still consider yourself religious?

    • Yes, and I still belong to the group I picked in the previous question.
    • Yes, but I now belong to a different group from the one that I picked in the previous question.
    • I don't know
    • No.
  5. 5. Do you believe that when people die that some people go to Heaven?

  6. 6. Do you believe that when people die that some people go to Hell?

  7. 7. Which of the following do you feel is the greatest reason you are faithful to a religion? If you are not religious, pick the one that you feel would be the reason you'd stick with a religion.

    • I want to go to Heaven to see my departed loved ones and live in bliss.
    • I fear Hell and eternal punishment and torture.
    • I love my God(s) for the world that they created and for their awesomness.
    • My family or community would be upset if I wasn't, and I'd rather not disappoint them.
      0
    • It makes live more bearable overall as a sort of super-therapy.
    • Other that doesn't categorize here.
  8. 8. Would you support a presidential nominee of the following "religion" if 90% of their platform aligned with your views?

  9. 9. Which of the following statements do you think is more true?

    • Most good Christian people are good because they are Christian.
    • Most good Christian people are good, not because they are Christian, but because they are good people.
  10. 10. If we were able to travel to the 20 closest planets that have intelligent life (similar to humans), do you expect to find any Christians, Muslims, or Jews among them?

    • I don't think intelligent life capable of organized religion exists outside Earth
    • Yes, because God's influence and power extends beyond Earth.
    • No, but we will have to convert them just as we had to convert Native Americans, Africans, Europeans, Asians, etc.
      0
    • No, but I think they could have developed their own unique religions, some which may be unfathonable to us.
    • Other
  11. 11. In the year before Covid, did you attend religious service at least once a month?

  12. 12. When is the last time you attended a religious service for something other than a wedding, funeral, baptism, or confirmation or something like that.

    • This week
    • This month
      0
    • Within the last year
    • Last two years
    • Last 3 to 5 years
    • Last 6-9 years.
    • Last 10 to 15 years
      0
    • Last 16-to 20 years
      0
    • Over 20 years
    • I've never been to one.


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As the title states. The research I'm looking at was collected before Covid, so the 47% church attendance isn't impacted by that. Non-religious is the fastest growing "religion." The largest demographic of this group is white, college-educated people who lean Democrat, although 20% of Republicans are also non-religious. The average age of the non-religious is 43. Religion is on the decline for every demographic. It's dropped by over 10% among blacks and hispanics. Mainline protestants and Catholics are those leaving religion most frequently. The Christian Right is the primary reason people leave Christianity, but it isn't the only reason. The US has been the only outlier nation in regards to nation's with high capital GDP's in that it is still a religious country. 

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I grew up with my father being Montegrin Orthodox Christian and my mom being a Muslim,so i grew up in multi religious household.I started identifying as an atheist when i was around 16,but questioned it all since early puberty.

Edited by Rodja
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Overall, I have a fairly pessimistic view of religions good in at least American society. I think it represses more good than it provides good. It isn't so much the religion itself as it is the more vocal adherents of these religions. As Gandhi said, (paraphrase) "I like your Christ. I don't like your Christians. They are very unlike your Christ." I find Gnostic Christianity appealing. Sin is ignorance. I find Unitarianism appealing. I don't understand Eastern religions, aside from Taoism. 

I was baptized Lutheran, confirmed Episcopal. I stopped going to Church sometime after confirmation as I started working on Sundays. Once I didn't have to go to church, I really didn't want to go back to going to church. Religion sort of just faded from me. It wasn't an effort to be agnostic or atheist. It's sort of like slowly realizing on your own that Santa and the Easter Bunny don't really exist aside from costumes and legend. I've read a lot about Christianity from both Christians and non-Christians, and they just confirm my belief that they're human-made organization made for a variety of purposes. 

I'll say I'm agnostic rather than atheist. I think an atheist generally has a belief that there is no belief or that there is no god. I think a higher power could exist, but I think it is nothing like anything we've captured in scriptures and it may not even know we exist or it might not even think about us much, if it knows we exist, or if it is capable of thinking in the way we think thinking is. It might just be some sort of automatic thing. A sentient event. Or perhaps the planets are atoms of its body, and we're kind of like fungus growing on these, or maybe more positively, some sort of integral party in keeping this one atom alive in the body of a god--one of countless atoms. 

I'll say I'm agnostic, but I wish a heaven existed, just so I can see people that I miss again. Maybe one day scientists and the tech industry can build a heaven, sort of like the TV show Upload, but a lot more egalitarian in how it is run. The best Heaven I ever saw in texts was in Dante's Inferno. I think it was the first circle of hell, which was where all the good pagans (non-religious) and good infidels (non-Christians) went. It wasn't like Hell at all--no pain or torture or hot temperatures. It was basically an eternity without evil people, and without Christians (good or bad). This heaven-hell had most of the Greek and Roman philosophers, scientists, etc. It seemed superior to Heaven. If this place existed, we could probably add the majority of comedians, actors, actresses, university professors, etc. What a fun and interesting place. A gnostic paradise. It seems more Heaven than Heaven. 

 

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I should add that in regards to the last question. I went to church in 2013 with some friends. They invited me, so I went. The last time that I went because I felt compelled to was in 2006. I wasn't religious, but I was trying to see if I could be again, to see what would happen. I left 25% into the service. The last time I went to a Church service that wasn't for a holiday, but was for just a standard day of the week, was probably sometime c. 1998-2000. Most likely 1998. Last time I went to church almost weekly was probably 1994 or 1995.  

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I was raised in the Catholic church by a Catholic mother (who didn't practice what was preached, but put on the show) and a Atheist Dad.  They both ensured we received an education in catholicism as children, including not just church but CCD classes as well -- but then left us to make our own decisions as teens/adults.  

As a teen, I followed my girlfriend at the time into one of those "we're cool because we have an electric guitar and comfortable chairs" nondenominational churches.  But it was still a little too weird for me, and once the girlfriend and I split for good, I never regularly attended a church again.

Overall, I'd say I'm agnostic.  It is entirely possible, in my mind, that God exists -- though I'm inclined to think those who claim to have true insight into God's intent/plan/etc are mistaken at best and fraudsters at worst.  I do occasionally pray, only for matters of literal life and death, because it doesn't hurt so why not just in case.  But I don't follow any scripture and generally have a very poor view of the political religious right, even when I was a Republican myself.

My wife was raised Catholic too but still believes to much the same degree she did as a child (though not in a bigoted way, thankfully -- she doesn't use it to judge others, she just finds comfort in religious beliefs).  But she doesn't attend religious services either, and agrees with my view that the church is dead wrong on important topics like LGBTQ issues.

We have not raised our daughter within a church.  We've spoken to her about God and heaven, and have not presented the idea that it might not be true or that some don't believe.  We've also emphasized the importance of accepting other races/cultures/sexualities/etc, that it's okay for a man to marry a man and a woman to marry a woman, that there's no such thing as boy toys/clothes and girl toys/clothes.  She seems to have a pretty good grasp on all that.

I attended a wedding many years ago that took place in a Unitarian church, and they spoke very briefly on their beliefs (which was less about judgment and more about love/acceptance) and I was into it.  In the back of my mind for ten years, I thought "Maybe I'm Unitarian."   So when my daughter was around 5 years old, I took her to a Unitarian church that proudly displayed a banner saying black lives manner and had the rainbow flag an all that....

But I was underwhelmed by the actual church session.  It felt more like a political rally.  There was a lot about how Trump is doing bad things.  They passed around the donation plate like you do at Catholic church...but the money wasn't for the church, it was for Planned Parenthood.  And then each person walked up front like you do for communion, but instead of taking a wafer and a sip of wine, you put a rock into a fountain.  I don't know what the rock was about...it wasn't explained...but it felt like it was just a knock-off version of Catholicism (albeit a much more Democrat take on it).

I agreed with everything they said -- I too am against Trump and for Planned Parenthood and have no objections to rocks getting wet.  But I didn't get anything out of it -- it was all stuff I knew already and didn't find interesting.  Daughter wasn't into it either, so that was our last attempt at organized religion for the forseeable future.

Edited by MrPotatoTed
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I meant to add:  my sister stayed within the Catholic church, and her husband is practicing as well.  They attend religious services, they send their kids to a private religious school, and to the best of their ability they try to practice what they preach.  My sister is more liberally minded on the LGBTQ front like I am -- her husband is against most trans rights and against gay couples adopting.  

But their four children are much better behaved and sweeter, generally speaking, than my feral daughter, so who knows -- maybe there's something to be said for raising your kids in the church.

Then again, if our daughter does turn out to be LGBTQ, I know she'll feel perfectly comfortable sharing that with us.  My sister's children may have more trepidation at how they would be received.

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I like "Malcolm in the Middle"s take on religion.  They compare it to a human and an ant.  Sometimes a human will intentionally feed an ant, sometimes a human will intentionally kill an ant, most of the time the human is entirely unaware an ant is nearby at all.

But from the ant's perspective, they cannot possibly fathom what a human is or what makes it do these things -- and even if they could, they have almost no way to influence a human to act in the ant's best interests at all.

 

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9 minutes ago, MrPotatoTed said:

I attended a wedding many years ago that took place in a Unitarian church, and they spoke very briefly on their beliefs (which was less about judgment and more about love/acceptance) and I was into it.  In the back of my mind for ten years, I thought "Maybe I'm Unitarian."   So when my daughter was around 5 years old, I took her to a Unitarian church that proudly displayed a banner saying black lives manner and had the rainbow flag an all that....

But I was underwhelmed by the actual church session.  It felt more like a political rally.  There was a lot about how Trump is doing bad things.  They passed around the donation plate like you do at Catholic church...but the money wasn't for the church, it was for Planned Parenthood.  And then each person walked up front like you do for communion, but instead of taking a wafer and a sip of wine, you put a rock into a fountain.  I don't know what the rock was about...it wasn't explained...but it felt like it was just a knock-off version of Catholicism (albeit a much more Democrat take on it).

Where was this Unitarian church? Seems quite odd. That's what I would call Religious Left, which is only preferable to the Religious Right in that it's at least on the right side of politics. 

My grandfather, and great-grandparents on my mom's side were Unitarians in Ohio. 

My dad's side, both maternal and paternal lines, are Lutheran going back to about Martin Luther. As I said, I was baptized Lutheran, but my dad switch to Episcopal probably for monetary reasons (they probably helped his business or something). I was confirmed in this, and I have no real memory of being Lutheran. My dad rejoined Lutherans a year or two before he died. His funeral was in the same Lutheran church in Dallas TX that I was baptized in. It was probably the first time I had been there since my baptism. 

My mom's side is more diverse. I'm not sure what sort of Church my mom went to growing up. Her dad was Unitarian, but her mom was probably Presbyterian or something. I don't think my mom went to a Unitarian church. I'm sure my grandfather joined whatever church my grandmother belonged to. My grandfather's paternal line is eventually Quaker, Pennsylvania Dutch Reformed (German actually), Methodist, and probably some Lutheran and Anglican. My grandfather's maternal side is Unitarian, Methodist Episcopal (whatever that is), Congregational, Massachusetts Puritan, Anglican. My grandmother's paternal side is Presbyterian and Anglican. My grandmother's maternal side is Moravian Catholic and Roman Catholic (they were Czech and Moravians). 

If I ever have a kid, they'll likely be raised without religion, but I'll let them do whatever they want. 

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I've always had such mixed feelings on religion, which is a major part of the reason for my unsure response on #1. On one hand, I recognize that life is what people make it to be. Religion can be a powerful tool for people to find community and meaning, and is a very personal thing I really don't want to take a side on when asked if declining church attendance is a good thing. However, I also recognize the inherent danger of evangelical Christianity in the US, specifically in the context of social issues, and as someone who crashed out of religion after years of feeling alone and isolated, not having the framework or support in my church or family to understand and accept my identity and who I am as a person, I do understand the view that this is a good thing. But I also recognize the very Human and personal aspects of religion, and I just don't feel comfortable saying that the decline of what for many is a grounding anchor for both community and meaning is a good thing.

Edited by The Blood
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Church attendance was something I was much more involved in as a kid. Started at 6 years old and didn't really stop until I was 16. I still go from time to time, I go when my family heads to a Church as a group or something for special events. But I'm not as involved as I used to be, maybe that's a bad thing, I'm not really sure. I've always been raised on having a personal relationship with God. And that's the most important thing. More important than going to Church. It's not necessarily that I don't like Church, at times there are interesting people there who I may not have a good opinion of, but overall, when I do go, I have a good time. I always enjoy driving my Grandma to Church when I visit her as well, and I enjoy seeing the people I was raised around. But it is rare that I simply go by myself. 

Question 7 is interesting. I don't think there is necessarily 1 sole reason that I'm faithful to Christianity. I want to go to heaven, I want to see my friends and loved ones in heaven, but I also want to do good in the world, I want to be there for people when I need to be. And I believe Jesus did that very thing, by dying on the cross. Much more than any one of us could do. It's the least I can do to try and do good in some way or form. 

Question 9 is another interesting question. I am reminded of a saying, "What is better? To be born blindly into good. Or to learn through great effort, why you must be good." I was born into a Christian family, was raised in a Christian Church. But I've done bad things in my life, I've learnt my lessons, and I continue to do so everyday. I don't think people should simply be good because it's what you are told to do. That defeats the purpose in my opinion. I think you should heed the message of God, but also be a good person. If that makes sense. 

 

 

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I came to the conclusion that I would support any of the given candidates, except the satanist. Although I would have problems with people adhering to Islam (depends, I need to be 100% sure that this person doesn't belong to the radical factions), Scientology, Flying Spaghetti Monster, New Age Cult and Trump Cult. The main question for me is whether these people want to indoctrinate others or not. Scientology is weird, but if the candidate adheres to it silently, I don't really care about it. It's not my business.

I needed to google Pentacostal, so I might be wrong on that, but if it's not too weird it's ok. Likewise with the Christian right.

Before Covid I attended a religious service once or twice a week, the last time shortly before there were the first reported cases in Austria. 

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5 minutes ago, ConservativeElector2 said:

I needed to google Pentacostal

Pentacostals often speak in tongues and are lead by charismatics and believe in faith healing. There's some that aren't as insane. They're common in very poor, ethnic neighborhoods. 

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2 hours ago, vcczar said:

Where was this Unitarian church? Seems quite odd. That's what I would call Religious Left, which is only preferable to the Religious Right in that it's at least on the right side of politics. 

My grandfather, and great-grandparents on my mom's side were Unitarians in Ohio. 

My dad's side, both maternal and paternal lines, are Lutheran going back to about Martin Luther. As I said, I was baptized Lutheran, but my dad switch to Episcopal probably for monetary reasons (they probably helped his business or something). I was confirmed in this, and I have no real memory of being Lutheran. My dad rejoined Lutherans a year or two before he died. His funeral was in the same Lutheran church in Dallas TX that I was baptized in. It was probably the first time I had been there since my baptism. 

My mom's side is more diverse. I'm not sure what sort of Church my mom went to growing up. Her dad was Unitarian, but her mom was probably Presbyterian or something. I don't think my mom went to a Unitarian church. I'm sure my grandfather joined whatever church my grandmother belonged to. My grandfather's paternal line is eventually Quaker, Pennsylvania Dutch Reformed (German actually), Methodist, and probably some Lutheran and Anglican. My grandfather's maternal side is Unitarian, Methodist Episcopal (whatever that is), Congregational, Massachusetts Puritan, Anglican. My grandmother's paternal side is Presbyterian and Anglican. My grandmother's maternal side is Moravian Catholic and Roman Catholic (they were Czech and Moravians). 

If I ever have a kid, they'll likely be raised without religion, but I'll let them do whatever they want. 

I talked to a friend of mine who is very active in her Unitarian church in a different state.  She was excited to see me try it and eager to hear what I thought of it, so I was honest with her.  She said nationally/globally, unitarianism is a lot less uniform/ordained than the Catholic church is so what you get at one unitarian church could be very different from what you get at a different unitarian church -- it all depends on that preacher/pastor/whatever they call themselves (I forget).  Now that you've renewed the memory in my mind, I do recall hearing from a member in the audience that the usual pastor had recently passed away, so it's possible they had someone relatively new in the role who hadn't found their footing yet, don't know.  

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1 hour ago, ConservativeElector2 said:

I came to the conclusion that I would support any of the given candidates, except the satanist. Although I would have problems with people adhering to Islam (depends, I need to be 100% sure that this person doesn't belong to the radical factions), Scientology, Flying Spaghetti Monster, New Age Cult and Trump Cult. The main question for me is whether these people want to indoctrinate others or not. Scientology is weird, but if the candidate adheres to it silently, I don't really care about it. It's not my business.

I needed to google Pentacostal, so I might be wrong on that, but if it's not too weird it's ok. Likewise with the Christian right.

Before Covid I attended a religious service once or twice a week, the last time shortly before there were the first reported cases in Austria. 

Yeah, I checked "yes" to every religion on whether I could support a leader who followed that religion, even Trump Cultist despite me personally hating Trump -- with the question's stated caveat that "90% of their platform aligned with my views."  90% is really good.  I don't think I've ever seen a Presidential candidate, whether in primaries or general election, Republican, Democrat, 3rd party/independent, doesn't matter...who aligned with 100% of my views.  I love Pete Buttigieg, I think he'll make the greatest President in my lifetime, but I still don't agree with him 100%.  So 90% would be someone I'd be very excited about.

Now, can I imagine a Trump Cultist who I'm in 90% agreement with?  No.  Same with some of the other more common religions.  But I'm open to anyone that is a 90% match with my platform, regardless of their religion, race, gender, sexuality, etc.  

Biden's a Catholic, but he's still on the right side when it comes to LGBTQ issues, planned parenthood, etc.  So it's not impossible to find folks from other religions who would feel the same.

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For question 9 (since I was the only one to answer in the way that I did)...

Especially for those who join the church in childhood rather than entering the church for the first time as an adult -- I think your environment plays a huge role in who you grow up to become.  Biology plays a role, of course, but I am mostly nurture over nature.  There are many good people who are not products of a religious upbringing, obviously.  And just as obviously, there are some horrific people who are products of a religious upbringing.  I'm not suggesting this is 100%.  But if you're raised within a system that puts a ton of emphasis on morality, that's going to influence who you grow up to become.

It won't be your ONLY influence, obviously.  There's biology, there's parents, there's your siblings and your friends and TV and that darned Marilyn Manson or whoever parents of teenagers are afraid of now.  But apples to apples, I'd say if someone is a good person and also was raised in a religious system, that system probably played a role in making them a good person.

Edited by MrPotatoTed
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18 hours ago, MrPotatoTed said:

I like "Malcolm in the Middle"s take on religion.  They compare it to a human and an ant.  Sometimes a human will intentionally feed an ant, sometimes a human will intentionally kill an ant, most of the time the human is entirely unaware an ant is nearby at all.

But from the ant's perspective, they cannot possibly fathom what a human is or what makes it do these things -- and even if they could, they have almost no way to influence a human to act in the ant's best interests at all.

I grew up with Malcolm in the Middle. One of the best series ever for me.

 

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