Is the Era of Big Religion Over?

Not yet, says Jeremy Lott at Real Clear Religion. Read it here.

4 comments

  1. What I see in my small town is the gentrification of religion – if you are poor, you don’t take part. An example of this is that middle class people get married, poor people just live together.

    1. I see something of the opposite trend above the middle class (so that the poles are more alike, perhaps): affluence is associated with non-participation. As my own parish’s territorial area, which used to have a lot of working and middle class people as recently as 30 years ago, has become not just gentrified but the home of the extremely wealthy, most of the parishioners now come from outside the territorial boundaries, and even so, numbers are declining. My work with the parish’s SVdP conference over the past few years reveals a marked displacement of the poor from the area.

    2. The “gentrification of religion” is also a trend I noticed when working in a school that had both very poor and very wealthy neighborhoods within its boundaries. I didn’t ask the kids about religious practices, but after a while you learn a lot about them just from hearing them talk and seeing them around town. The middle class kids typically went to church – the poor kids typically beleive in God, but “don’t believe in going to church” (as one student told me once).

      The Catholic churches in the poorest areas are typically attended by the middle class kids of the immigrants who used to populate those neighborhoods – they commute.

      Also, going through marriage preparation myself right now, I can totally see why many poorer folks don’t get married in church. Just to have a bare-bones Catholic wedding is going to cost you more than $400. That doesn’t include anything more than the state marriage license, the priest’s fee, the church fee, and the rather useless seminar everyone is required to attend that takes up your whole Saturday. Assistance can be given, but not everyone likes to seek it out. Add to this the perception that church weddings are supposed to be big and fancy, and it’s no wonder so many people opt for courthouse and park weddings.

  2. The problem for non-religion, irreligion, agnostics and atheists is they have nothing to be for.

    As one sociologist put it “My Russian colleague and I are both atheists but he is an Orthodox atheist while I am a Lutheran atheist.”

    Many times people who check the above categories on a survey turn out to pray and even go to church. They just do not want to be identified with a formal religion.

    People in the above categories have difficulty passing on their position to their offspring.

    First they generally have far fewer offspring than religious people, especially very religious people.

    When they have offspring, their offspring often become religious. The people most likely to have a conversion are people of little or no religion.

    When social scientists ask about dreams, Atlantis, haunted places, influencing the physical world by mind alone, UFOs, communication with the dead, Bigfoot, the Loss Ness Monster, astrology, these are far more likely to be believed by people who do not go to church, or who are members of liberal denominations than conservative denominations. Amazingly there is no relation to education.

    When asked about New Age beliefs, these tend to be concentrated in well educated people who lack an anchorage in conventional religion.

    In other words when people don’t have a solid religious faith, they generally end up with a lot of fuzzy beliefs and superstitions rather than pure secularism.

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