A Religion that Works

Which part of American society has dropped off the most in regular church attendance?  The answer from a recent study was the poor and unemployed among the white population.

Many possible causes were offered.  Some of them only showed the bias of the researcher.  I think the reason, simply put, is that religion no longer works for them.

For better or worse Christianity has been shaped by the prosperity of western civilization since the Renaissance.  As long as one is in the group for which the tenets of faith reap tangible results the predominant religion of western civilization works.  Not surprisingly the wealthiest were the most likely to be attending church services.

There was a direct correlation it seems between the frequency of unemployment and the absence from religious services.  Think about it.  When you hear that those who do right will prosper and you are not prospering, what are you supposed to think and feel? When your value as a person is tied to your prosperity, how can you possibly feel valued when you are desperately poor and have been rejected or laid off from a job?

Karen Armstrong in her survey of The History of God shows that all monotheistic religions suffer a great apostasy and reform when the society it influences fails to prosper. When religion no longer works for us, we change it.

I don’t think spiritual truth changes, but the way we understand and express it has to change.  Of course, to do that we have to admit that we have been wrong.  That is not something that those who proclaim “the eternal truth of an unchanging God” can easily do.  Better, perhaps, to say that we are evolving and progressing in our spiritual lives.

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