For almost eighty years, my life centered around the Episcopal church. During my first twenty years in the ministry, the church was a powerful and positive force in our nation. Today, I see much of the institutional church as a negative presence, sometimes even trying to destroy democracy with its theocracy.
In 1945, 75 percent of Americans belonged to a religious congregation. Today it’s about 47 percent. In the 1970s, only one in fourteen Americans claimed “none” when asked their religion. Today, it’s one in four. More Christian churches close, by the hundreds, every year than open. Why?
I see so many evangelical (i.e., “fundamental”) Christians as deterring our democracy. They are great naysayers, often loudly opposed to getting vaccinated, wearing masks, listening to science, allowing access to abortions, teaching sex ed, permitting women to be in control of their bodies and minds, or allowing female clergy or popes for starters. Why do many keep maligning the LGBTQ+ community? Why do they advocate that white men are superior and believe that by getting rid of Roe v. Wade abortions will stop?
The Roman Catholic church/cult for the past forty plus years has refused to admit it has deep-seated issues with sexuality and women. It pays billions of dollars to victims but never admits that a problem exists. If this is godliness, count me out.
In the meantime, almost all mainstream Christian churches remain silent about so many social issues. Being outspoken could cancel pledges.
I see the people who check “none” and the unchurched as so much more accepting, understanding, and tolerant than the “godly,” who seem to be extremely judgmental, narrow-minded, exclusive, and bigoted.
My contention is that abortion is an issue only because the fundamentalists and Roman Catholics keep making it so. Most Americans feel that individual women need to make that choice, not a bunch of neutered old men in Rome. Our democracy would be much stronger and women freer if these controlling religious institutions didn’t keep trying to make everyone live life their way. They must know abortion is never going to go away, just move underground.
The “religious right” (it’s neither) wants our democracy to become a fundamentalist theocracy so that it can control everything and everyone. Theocracies are not democracies. Ask Iranians.
When asked my religious preference, these days I check “none” because I don’t identify with today’s version of Christian. Unfortunately, the category “Follower of the Way” is not a choice.
I find myself continually asking, Wouldn’t our fragile democracy be stronger without these religious cults that keep masquerading as “believers” of a fictitious Jesus who never existed?
Increasingly I see godliness as killing individuality and our democracy. Maybe it’s time to let godlessness become the norm?
I pray to God that happens.
- S. My favorite shirt slogan of the week: “If you don’t need a mask or vaccination because God is protecting you, why do you need a gun?”