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  1. #1
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    Default Church attendance in America--perception vs. reality? Politcal influence?

    I heard a fascinating report on NPR a few weeks ago, and have followed up on it by reading some more articles recently. In light of the recent political season, this puzzles me: Fewer than 20% of Americans actually attend ANY church weekly. Now that doesn't mean they don't attend church, but the idea that they are 'regular' church-goers is not truthful. 78% of Americans claim to be "Christian", however.


    Now that I've read responses: Why do the politicos feel the need to comment on, pander to(?), proclaim, exclaim about "God" and being "Christian" still, if so few Americans really are or practice religion? What about the ever thinning "separation of church and state" and "freedom of (from?) religion" in the Constitution?

    I have many friends who do not attend a church, but when asked, are "Christian". When asked basic "Christian" information, though, they are fairly ignorant. (think Sunday School type information about the bible/bible characters/basic Christian belief ideas).

    So, what does this say about America? Anything? Nothing?

    Discuss....
    Last edited by Calvincrowe; Nov. 22, 2012 at 03:02 PM. Reason: Added thoughts
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
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    Default

    It tells me that the 'mythology' and 'ritual' of traditional 'church' are no longer relevant in most lives. People use the label of 'christian' because they generally / vaguely believe in western christian cultural concepts, as opposed to the concepts of wiccan, Dao, Buddha, etc.

    *star*
    "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
    - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


    12 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    Default

    In the middle of the Bible Belt, religion and going to church is what greases society, is where you see your neighbors and friends and the people you do business with.
    I have known some in business change from the methodist to the baptist church because more of their customers were going there.

    There is so much more to religion than church attendance figures.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Many Americans of my generation identify as Christians simply because they were raised as such and they usually do not attend religious services or hold to any real beliefs and I think many of them simply continue to call themselves that because they have no other affiliations even though they don't really identify as "religious" like many devout Christians do. At this point, many youth and young adults are rejecting Christianity and it's off-shoots for other religions or outright atheism, so the numbers are in a steady decline. The only two religions I know of that are gaining ground are Buddhism and Unitarian Universalism and those are big in urban areas with a large under-40 population.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


    3 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Default

    I don't think you need to go to church to be a "true" Christian. I am a follower of Christ, but do not attend church. I follow more of the WWJD thing. I sort of have a bad perception of the people that regularly attend in my area. They are nasty and hateful all week, but they wipe the slate clean on Sunday--that's not my idea of Christianity. I also accept/like (am tolerant) of other religions and some of their ideas/beliefs.

    What it shows for America? Well, what I would hope it would show is religous tolerance.
    I LOVE my Chickens!


    11 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
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    Plenty of church going Christians here in KY. I'd say better than half if you go by the after church crowds at the local eateries. We are after all the home of that bible theme park.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  7. #7
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    Default

    Do folks attend out of belief or peer pressure, in the Bible Belt? I'm genuinely curious about this topic. I see the "red/blue" map, hear the pundits discuss the "religious right", see a bajillion FB posts about God and prayer requests, see stories on the news about cheerleaders using bible quotes to encourage their football team (ack!) in public schools in Texas... how does that all go down??
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Calvincrowe View Post
    Do folks attend out of belief or peer pressure, in the Bible Belt? I'm genuinely curious about this topic. I see the "red/blue" map, hear the pundits discuss the "religious right", see a bajillion FB posts about God and prayer requests, see stories on the news about cheerleaders using bible quotes to encourage their football team (ack!) in public schools in Texas... how does that all go down??
    I'd be honestly interested, also. I've been a non-churchgoing "Christian" all of my life. And, it's not for the lack of trying. I have attempted several different churches over my lifetime, always to be driven away by the hypocrisy that I have seen. I'm giving it one more try and just started attending Unitarian Universalist meetings. So far, so good, but I'm still quite sceptical. Time will tell. Anyway, I'm honestly interested in the answer, and in knowing what keeps you going to church.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Reality in the area of my hometown has taken on a strange twist. After waves and waves of Catholic church closings, and years of petitioning the Vatican for decision reversals by dedicated parishioners, suddenly, a few of them are reopening. At first it seemed too good to be true, and the parishioners were overjoyed. Then, with the trial of the pope's butler for leaking documents, the whole story was pieced together.

    Seems a cardinal went into cahoots with his relative a real estate agent, and together they sold the churches to CVS/Walgreens/etc, and they both pocketed the money, turning a deaf ear to parishioners who were heartbroken at seeing their mortgage-paid-for churches sold, stripped and then put to the wreaking ball so a pharmacy could go up in its place. With the revelation of the sleight of hand now visible, town leaders with closed for-sale churches still standing in their towns decided to offer the recalcitrant bishops and cardinals an offer they couldn't refuse: open the churches for a weekly mass, or pay taxes on the land that is no longer being used for religious purposes as of December 1st. And Glory Be!, the closed churches that the Vatican had ordered open but the bishops and cardinals refused to heed the order are now being re-opened on December 1st for one weekly mass, weddings, baptisms and funerals. The parishioners who remained faithful are not quite so joyous now that the real story has been exposed, but are planning to attend mass there anyway. Whether the former parishioners who transferred to other parishes will return remains to be seen. Money talks, bs walks. It takes a lot of chutzpah to pull this $hit off time and time again on these people.

    May God bless the butler.
    Last edited by Chief2; Nov. 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

    http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/


    3 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    I follow more of the WWJD thing.
    That standard is a good standard to follow, whether you identify as "Christian" or not. Jesus, if you remove the whole "Savior of the world" thing and "Only Begotten Son" thing, taught (by example, no less!), to not judge, to love everyone, to live simply, and to take care of the poor and the sick. Pretty good standard to live by. A lot of the evangelicals I knew growing up couldn't manage that.

    I was raised in the church...as in, not just a service on Sunday morning, but Sunday school, evening services on Sunday night, youth group/bible study on Wednesday nights. I went on mission trips, attended "revivals", went to youth conferences, and praise and worship concerts. I was taught to evangelize and "help people seek the forgiveness of Jesus Christ."

    I do not identify as Christian. I know what it means to truly BE a Christian, and I don't believe any of it (other than the good stuff of being loving and kind and taking care of people...all things I admittedly fail at from time to time). I, personally, think it untruthful to identify myself that way, just as it would be to say, oh, I'm Jewish (there are things I may take away from that religion, but I am not Jewish) or to say I'm Buddhist (same thing, and very true, as there are LOTS of things I find compelling in that religion). I, however, probably am a rare bird to feel that way (even though most people who identify as Christian probably didn't get the upbringing I did!).

    If I was asked I would probably say I was agnostic or "spiritual but not religious."

    I don't know what it says about our country. Probably that we're growing and realizing that religion really means less and less, but are still too afraid to truly let go of that dying part of our culture.

    Honestly, despite a few people I keep minimal ties to who are still very much true Christians, I know no one who attends services on a regular basis (though, I know people who are members of churches...I, however, think that may be more of a "status" thing and a place to "be seen" than anything really about worshiping).

    Calvin, "This American Life" did a REALLY interesting show on politics a week or two before the religion. The story they opened with was about a man who was a Democrat in an extremely Republican small, southern town. He keeps his politics to himself (as in, HIDES it. They didn't use his name or say what town or even state he lived in!!!) to not deal with the public stigma that would come with his "distasteful" politics. I would not be surprised if going to church and attending bible studies would be in the same boat in that part of the country. (The show was titled "Red State/Blue State" if you're interested). Of course, knowing some of the hateful, spiteful, mean spirited "Christians" I knew growing up (including a freaking PASTOR. I blame him for a lot of my loss of faith), it might just be that that's what people do and think.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Default I never fail to be amazed by the chutzpah

    of the people here who think ALL the people who go to church, or at least the ones they run into are such hypocrites. I look at church attendance as a fill up of my gas tank of my car. Some people feel as if they do not need weekly attendance in 'four walls with a patriarch' speaking. I guess it depends what you are looking for. If you are going because you want to increase business, go anywhere, join the BBB, sponsor a little league team, doesn't have to be church.
    If you want to follow Christ, find a bible believing church and GET INVOLVED. Most of the complaining I hear is from 'pewsitters' who are never involved in any activity. They are always looking at their watch, and scoot out the door, to be first in line at the buffet when church is out.
    And finally, I will only say that looking at the results of the election, it is not a surprise to me that church attendence is in decline.
    Another killer of threads


    11 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    They believe, but they don't examine or question. My GF at work is disdainful of Catholics because they worship the Blessed Mary but she also doesn't understand that the Bible that she reads was mostly from documents and research done by St Jerome, and preserved by monks working laboriously in the monasteries, and that at one point in time we were all one church. Granted it started splitting apart a few hundred years AD.

    She hasn't a clue about the Reformation and Martin Luther and the further changes in Protestant denominations that got her to her New Believer's Edtion.

    It seems to be my way or the highway. Read the wrong version of the scripture and you're toast.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    3 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    You see now, Larksmom, your post is a good example, I think, of why so many people are questioning "true Christianity." What exactly is Christian about having nothing but hatred and disdain (and yes, it shows through in your posts, even though you don't directly come out and say it) for those who don't believe as you do, or who are struggling to find belief? What has anyone said that isn't true? There are plenty of hypocrites in churches all over the US, even in the bible belt. There are plenty of people who use church to their own advantage, not to worship. And, there are plenty of people who think of themselves as Godly, who are anything but. Look to yourself first, before you so heavily-handedly criticize others.

    It's discouraging, for me right now, to ask honest questions, only to be met with the usual crap that succeeds in turning people off from Christianity.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.


    16 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    I'm a born again Christian and I love going to church. But, I do not think going to church sets any sort of behavioral expectation for those who do. That would be like me expecting attendants of Toast Masters to be fabulous speakers, when most of their member are there to overcome public speaking issues or learn to speak better in public/a business setting.

    Who cares what religion one calls oneself? I certainly wouldn't challenge my Buddhist friend on his principles because I have never seen him at the temple I live a few doors down from LOL!!
    The Knotted Pony

    Proud and upstanding member of the Snort and Blow Clique.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louise View Post
    You see now, Larksmom, your post is a good example, I think, of why so many people are questioning "true Christianity." What exactly is Christian about having nothing but hatred and disdain (and yes, it shows through in your posts, even though you don't directly come out and say it) for those who don't believe as you do, or who are struggling to find belief? What has anyone said that isn't true? There are plenty of hypocrites in churches all over the US, even in the bible belt. There are plenty of people who use church to their own advantage, not to worship. And, there are plenty of people who think of themselves as Godly, who are anything but. Look to yourself first, before you so heavily-handedly criticize others.

    It's discouraging, for me right now, to ask honest questions, only to be met with the usual crap that succeeds in turning people off from Christianity.
    I only saw disdain for people who sit back and complain about an organization they belong to instead of "do something" about what they complain about. Same can be said about any group really, not just the church in town You are projecting your own issues onto Larksmoms post.

    *As an aside, I can usually see how passive aggressive and sneaky defensive people are by how fast they hit the thumbs down when they read a post that disagrees with theirs LOL!! Anyone else noticed??
    The Knotted Pony

    Proud and upstanding member of the Snort and Blow Clique.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by twotrudoc View Post
    I only saw disdain for people who sit back and complain about an organization they belong to instead of "do something" about what they complain about. Same can be said about any group really, not just the church in town You are projecting your own issues onto Larksmoms post.
    I have issues, it's true. It's why I question. I am evaluating Larksmom's posts based on my experiences, based on the same types of statements that I have seen and heard from many people over the course of my life. We all base what we think on our own experiences. There is a great deal of negative example that I have to overcome, including some in my own family who were oh so Godly and took unholy advantage of many of those who thought that they were so religiously advanced. Yet, these relatives truly believed that they, themselves, were good examples of religious people.

    People, including myself, are too quick to condemn those who think and feel differently than they do. The difference is, I'm aware of it, and there are all too many people who just think of themselves as better than those who are different. I'm trying, and I admit to struggling, the very fact that I'm letting Larksmom's statements irritate me proves that, but the more I see of the religious right, the more I want to run. I guess what I'm trying to say is I see that complacency, that "I've found the right way, and I'm safe" smugness a danger in itself. I wouldn't be so sure about it, because that very complacency can lead you down a very crooked path.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.


    9 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
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    The thing is, people suck. Whether or not you call yourself "religious" (I am a Christian) people will make mistakes, they will judge, they will be rude. It happens, because people are people. You can't blame the church or the religion behind those people for the way they act. It's all in the individual themselves. So if you run into someone at a local church who isn't kind and friendly, please don't think every Christian you meet is going to be like that. It's like saying that all h/j riders are snots, or that all western riders are hicks and all eventers are poor and crazy just because you met one person from that "stereotype" that actually fits it.

    Being a Christian doesn't automatically make someone perfect. It doesn't remove human tendencies at all. People, regardless of their feelings towards religion, should aim to not judge, not be rude, care about others and generally act in an attitude of good will towards others. However, many people, Christian or not are not very good at practicing those things. So, it bothers me when people paint Christianity with a paint brush assuming that it's so awful and hypocritic when the only flaw is the humans that take part in it, not the religion itself.


    16 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
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    Thank you, Jazzy Lady. That makes a lot of sense.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.



  19. #19
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    Well, Louise, I can say that your judgment of "their complacency" does not show you to be a very tolerant person.

    But, I can also say I understand where you are coming from, I spent all but the last 4 years of my life as an atheist and was generally untrusting and suspicious of the "religious right, holy rollers, doomsday yahoos, Jesus freaks," you name it LOL!!

    I think the urge to condemn those who are different is a human trait, not a God trait. Actually, I know so. I see condemnation in the workplace frequently, at horse shows, you name it!

    I left my church a year and a half ago (I left the building and the pastor, certainly not Jesus and certainly not my dear friends who go there!) because the pastor was being a turd. An ego-driven, micromanaging turd! I took time off to cool off because, as you may have noticed, I am very direct and wanted to not hurt feelings. That lapsed into a year and a half. It has been on my mind and I called him. I told him that I took ownership of blowing him off for a year and a half, explained why, and told him that I felt he was being a jerk. I also apologized fro being my own special brand of jerk. Heehee!

    So, I'm going back this Sunday. The issues are still there but I am going to try and communicate more effectively.

    I suppose one can strive to be a "good religious church-goer". I personally strive for "a learning relationship with Jesus that will still involve learning to be kind and thrive in a large group of very ethnically, ideologically, and culturally diverse folks". That means while I may still A-hole out with wild abandon at times, I will apologize and learn from it!
    The Knotted Pony

    Proud and upstanding member of the Snort and Blow Clique.


    8 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzy Lady View Post
    The thing is, people suck. Whether or not you call yourself "religious" (I am a Christian) people will make mistakes, they will judge, they will be rude. It happens, because people are people. You can't blame the church or the religion behind those people for the way they act. It's all in the individual themselves. So if you run into someone at a local church who isn't kind and friendly, please don't think every Christian you meet is going to be like that. It's like saying that all h/j riders are snots, or that all western riders are hicks and all eventers are poor and crazy just because you met one person from that "stereotype" that actually fits it.

    Being a Christian doesn't automatically make someone perfect. It doesn't remove human tendencies at all. People, regardless of their feelings towards religion, should aim to not judge, not be rude, care about others and generally act in an attitude of good will towards others. However, many people, Christian or not are not very good at practicing those things. So, it bothers me when people paint Christianity with a paint brush assuming that it's so awful and hypocritic when the only flaw is the humans that take part in it, not the religion itself.
    You really can't separate both, the religion and the people it fosters, for good or bad.

    As someone else mentioned, you can be just as good and honest a person without the religion.
    Use some other way to socialize.
    Unless you are in the Bible Belt, then there is no other.
    There are many places where you can't separate them and not only in the USA.

    I know locals that think some of what the church here pushes for is not right, but they would never dare stand against it, not if they want to keep living and working and having their kids go to school here without consequences.


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