Losing Your Religion

It was interesting to watch the state of Texas recently pass a law that allows anyone to say the greeting "Merry Christmas" in the state's public schools and buildings. Governor Rick Perry signed the law saying he wished it wasn't necessary but, in his opinion, protecting the words "Merry Christmas" has to be done because they are under fire from the freedom from religious crew.

America has been heading down the secular road for decades and a new Gallup Poll reinforces that. When asked if religion is losing its influence on American life, 77% said yes. Just 20% disagreed.

But another question in the same poll was more instructive: "If more Americans were religious, would that be a positive or a negative for American society?" An astounding 75% said a positive. Only 17% believe it would be a negative. 8% don't know.

Here's what I know. It is not easy to be religious in a culture that encourages individualism and materialism at the same time. Little children are by nature selfish, they want what they want. They must be taught to be generous and to think about the needs of others.

But many parents do not do that. They don't have time. They are too busy getting stuff for themselves. Thus, the urchins grow up to be selfish and insensitive.

More than 80% of Americans describe themselves as "Christian", a philosophy that demands self-sacrifice and loving others as yourself. But that message has been largely lost because it's not a moneymaker, and there is no charismatic Christian leader in sight.

I mean, when was the last time you saw any American religious leader capture the attention of the American public? Billy Graham was the last Christian preacher to have a national following.

My own religion, Roman Catholicism, is in steep decline in this country. Many churches are half empty on Sunday, especially in the big cities. The priest scandals have badly damaged the moral authority of the church, but for the faithful the problem goes far beyond that.

Last Sunday, I took my two children to mass and we had a priest from Nigeria. He's a nice man but you can't understand him – unless you're from Nigeria, which my family is not. So, we sat there for almost 20 minutes while the priest spoke about Jesus from the pulpit. I did recognize the name Jesus but little else. My kids slipped into comas.

Religious leaders have an obligation to spread the good word. How many of them are doing that effectively?

If you believe the Gallup Poll, Americans want a religious nation because they know a strong moral foundation brings much more freedom than a free-fire zone of self-absorbed behavior. Once upon a time, most Americans did not have to lock their doors or watch their children every second of the day. Now, drug addiction and other destructive behavior has driven crime and degeneracy into almost every American neighborhood. Religion opposes self-destruction and criminal activity. It is sinful. It does not lead to prosperity in this world or the next.

Communicated in the right way, Judeo-Christian philosophy and the religions that uphold it bind a citizenry together in pursuit of a just and generous society. That is the spirit that most Americans admire and want to relocate. But we need some leaders to light up the pathway.

Where are they?

  • souvoter

    Joel O’Steen is about as close as I can think to what you describe, Bill but he is closer to being a motivational speaker than a preacher. Even though he stays neutral as far as politics go, he has helped me tremendously. Also Mac Brunson of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fl is an excellent preacher. But the values of my parents were most influencial; my Dad a world war II vet and my Mom a homemaker were strict but so loving and family oriented. I raised my two that way but outside influences have a way of taking it’s toll. One just never ever gives up on family….

    • Darren Perkins

      I doubt very sincerely if Osteen is a Christian. He certainly seems to not agree with what is written in the Bible. His religion seems to be something closer to what you see in the documentary “The Secret”. Self empowerment by positive thinking is not Christianity.

  • Wheels55

    Solid family values don’t require religion. However, most families that I know who instill solid values in children have some religion as a base. I also think religion brings people closer together. But solid values – personal responsibility and caring for those who are less fortunate – will help make a good kid into a great adult. It is just too easy for so many people to let the government be the entity that takes care of all justice and caring for others.

    • Brian Fr Langley

      Actually I do believe your wrong that solid family families don’t require a belief in God. If right and wrong don’t emanate from a higher power, from whence then, do they come???? If the only arbiter of morality is human, then right and wrong is dependant only on either what a ruler or a majority agrees to. How then do you fault Nazi’s for exterminating Jews, gypsy’s, homosexuals and political opponents? Or fault slave holders for slavery? Humans it seems can justify (even in large majority’s) the most abhorrent behaviors imaginable. I maintain that all human societies that wish to transcend barbarism, require a transcendent morality.

      • Darren Perkins

        I completely agree. All right and wrong judgements must be based on something- it used to be the Christian God in this country. many would prefer majority rule but imo that is a disastrous course…but is one we are moving toward at breakneck speed.

      • Wheels55

        Good points!

  • BobOlden

    To the secular mind, all the problems of our society can be solved by education or by some government program. If we just throw enough money at the problem, it will go away. That point of view has been disproved so many times that it seems idiotic to keep expecting a different result.

    On the other hand, there are thousands who have experienced a real encounter with God through Jesus Christ who testify to the fact that their whole perspective on life was changed, suddenly or gradually, so that they became less self centered, more loving and kind, and more desirous to be like Jesus. The result has been healing of relationships, healing from addictions, new purpose in life, and many other amazing transformations.

    I think this is why so many believe that it would be a positive thing if there were more “religious” people in our nation.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    Religion would have a lot more acceptance but for it’s utter rejection by the 5th estate (main stream media) Against gay marriage? Your hard right. Against abortion? your hard right. Against condoms in schools? hard right. Against state paid for birth control. HPV vaccines, or any other proscriptions against unfettered sexual promiscuity? Hard right. The implication of the main stream media, is that folks who hold traditional views, are akin to the real hard right, white supremacists, and execrable Nazi’s. It’s worthy to note that fundamental to Marxist doctrine, is the utter abolition of the traditional family unit. (Marx referred to wives and children as simply production tools of the bourgeois) It’s also worthy to note that most main stream media are left wing parrots. That is, the fount of their thinking, (whether they even know it or not) is fundamentally Marxist.

    • Diane Yoder

      Hate to say it, but it has that reputation because the hard right propels it, and most people who have those views feel forced to vote Republican.

      • Wheels55

        Yes, but is no different than the liberal folks who shove the opposite view downs everyone’s necks. It seems people have to act extreme to get their point across. Being civil then takes a back seat.