Church Shopping? Try Us!

Church Shopping? Try Us!

Church attendance is down, and church signs are becoming increasingly inventive. This sign is from The Church of the Holy Trinity, an Anglican church, located at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. You may also remember this sign from last year, or this one from another church.

Between 1990 and 2008, the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Christian dropped from 86.2% to 76.0%. Church attendance is also on a decline in the rest of the world. So, why is religion losing prominence?

This is an complex subject that can be tackled fairly only in academic studies. In a number of earlier posts, I implicated religious exclusivism as just one reason for the decline in religion; It is becoming increasingly difficult to defend religious particularism in a globalized, interconnected world. In this post, I'll use the sign above as a launching point to argue another point. Churches are failing to reach out to people and address their needs, but rather expecting "shoppers to try them out". Churches are ignoring the "rights and needs" of common people. They are maintaining their silence in the face of injustice. In the words of Trappist monk, Thomas Merton: "No man who ignores the rights and needs of others can hope to walk in the light of contemplation, because his way has turned aside from truth, from compassion and therefore from God". The time has come for churches to take a clear stance on injustice, poverty and the deterioration of the environment. If they fail to take a stance, they will only fade into irrelevance, and leave people with no guidance to deal with the non-rational but real aspects of human nature.

Moral courage should be a bedrock principle of all religions and denominations. A church which lacks moral courage could not be considered a church at all. It is truly sad that in the 21st Century, we continue to read stories of churches refusing to hold wedding ceremonies due to a couple's race. Why did Jesus tell the story of the Good Samaritan?

Song of the Day: Soul Meets Body - Death Cab for Cutie (2009)
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