John Corson's Blog

WRITING & RANTING
for April 4, 2021

THE HIGHEST ATTENDED SUNDAY OF THE YEAR,
OR IT USED TO BE, BUT IT'S STILL RESURRECTION DAY!

One really has to be in the mood to write about today's activities since it is Easter Sunday. Usually the mood is struck when you have attended an Easter Service, gone out to eat a hearty lunch and come home, ready to settle down and maybe watch a baseball game or, in my case, to take a nap and then read a book.

In a moment I will take that nap, but for the purpose of keeping continuity on my Sunday moan and groan session, I will tell my three or four faithful readers about my Sunday.

First, let me start out my saying that it didn't go off that well in the services today, but it did end up very optimistic and on a little bit of a high note.

Upon arrival at church (we got there ahead of everybody else), the building was cold! It turns out that the heat was not left on since we have had some pretty warm temperatures of late. But if you read my Thursday blog I stated that we were going from 82 degree highs on Thursday to 27 degree nights Thursday and Friday night. It had dropped down to 35 last night after being in the upper 60's during the day. Well, having turned the heat back last Sunday before leaving church, we told that winter was over. That was then.

Today, we walked into the building and the inside temperature was 54 degrees! Fortunately it only takes about an hour to get it up to a more bearable 66 degrees. Everybody started coming in while it was at that mark and it made it to the preferred 70 degrees within minutes as the warm bodies helped to bring the temps up.

There was a spirit of expectation before the first few people arrived. I had already knew that there would be about ten people out of town - visiting children and grandchildren. I have said this a hundred times that the days of visiting parents and grandparents are over. Now the parents and grandparents visit their kids and grandkids. Why? Times have changed. Our children and grandchildren can't find jobs in the towns and cities they grew up in and besides, working for big companies will often yield you a transfer to remote areas. Take my two sons, for instance. One is a police officer in Orlando, Florida because that is where his wife is from and he made her happy by settling down there and finding a job there. He is vested and in order to get his full pension at retirement he has to stay until his youngest in 16. His oldest two will probably be done with high school and well into college. My youngest son lives in Colorado, working for a large food service company which transferred him from Charleston, SC to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

I represent the last of the "stay at or near home" parents. Even though I travelled early in life (for college, seminary and graduate school) I made my way back home at 30 years of age.

Back to the topic of travelling, about a third of my regulars were out of town doing what their adult children can't do anymore. If I want to see my kids or grandkids I have to do the travelling. In this day, people work on Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and on other holidays. Thirty years and more ago, not so. Anyone could travel on those holiday weekends and generally the younger folks did it and spared the old folks the achy legs and butts from all the driving. So, on this Easter Sunday, a day on which church attendances are usually at their highest, we had only the fourth highest attendance of the year, but better than the last five weeks. It's as if there is nothing special we should have to plan for anymore.

I have noticed that over the last ten years, our Easter attendances have gone down each year. We had nine less this year than last and we were worshipping outside inside our vehicles last year. Last year we had twenty three less than the year before, but we chalk that up to the pandemic which was starting its second month of limiting everyone social life and gathering. In 2019 we had five less than 2018, which was 8 less than 2017 and three less than 2016, etc. etc.

Now comes this report Monday about Church membership falling below the 50 percent mark for the first time in the history of the United States. The recent Gallup poll showed Americans' membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup's eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.

U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21st century.

Gallup asks Americans a battery of questions on their religious attitudes and practices twice each year. The following analysis of declines in church membership relies on three-year aggregates from 1998-2000 (when church membership averaged 69%), 2008-2010 (62%), and 2018-2020 (49%). The aggregates allow for reliable estimates by subgroup, with each three-year period consisting of data from more than 6,000 U.S. adults.

Gallup also found out that the decline in membership is directly tied to the increase in a lack of religious affiliation. Tens of thousands are turning off from any kind or form of religion, and particularly religious activity of any sort.

The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.

As would be expected, Americans without a religious preference are highly unlikely to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, although a small proportion -- 4% in the 2018-2020 data -- say they do. That figure is down from 10% between 1998 and 2000.

Given the nearly perfect alignment between not having a religious preference and not belonging to a church, the 13-percentage-point increase in no religious affiliation since 1998-2000 appears to account for more than half of the 20-point decline in church membership over the same time.

Most of the rest of the drop can be attributed to a decline in formal church membership among Americans who do have a religious preference. Between 1998 and 2000, an average of 73% of religious Americans belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. Over the past three years, the average has fallen to 60%.

Back in the Fall of 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pew Research Center published a report which showed the religious landscape of the United States continuing to change at a rapid clip. In PRC telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious “nones” – have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009. Members of non-Christian religions also have grown modestly as a share of the adult population.

The changes underway in the American religious landscape are broad-based. The Christian share of the population is down and religious “nones” have grown across multiple demographic groups: white people, black people and Hispanics; men and women; in all regions of the country; and among college graduates and those with lower levels of educational attainment. Religious “nones” are growing faster among Democrats than Republicans, though their ranks are swelling in both partisan coalitions. And although the religiously unaffiliated are on the rise among younger people and most groups of older adults, their growth is most pronounced among young adults.

While the trends are clear – the U.S. is steadily becoming less Christian and less religiously observant as the share of adults who are not religious grows – self-described Christians report that they attend religious services at about the same rate today as in 2009. Today, 62% of Christians say they attend religious services at least once or twice a month, which is identical to the share who said the same in 2009. In other words, the nation’s overall rate of religious attendance is declining not because Christians are attending church less often, but rather because there are now fewer Christians as a share of the population.

So, if we were to take this last figure of 62% of the 47% that Gallup records as being affiliated with a church, synagogue or mosque (those of the 47% saying they are religious) we are really talking about less than two-thirds or the 47% attending services or truly being religious and that only two times a month. That comes to three-in-ten Americans. Less than one-third of all America was in Church today! And today is Easter Sunday.

America is no longer a Christian nation. Barack Obama was right when, back in 2009 he told us so. But just a year before over 50% of Americans were attending a religious service of some sort at least once a month and many more on Easter. Maybe Obama gave much of American permission to not have to be Christian.

Now when I say "Christian Nation" I don't really mean that America was a Christian Theocracy at all. I mean that most of Americans, and at least a majority of its leaders operated from and lived by a Christian consensus, or Biblically based sense of morals. Not any longer! In fact you would be hard pressed to find at least a third of our Congressmen and Senator attending church today.

We have some very dark days ahead and so I know that I am not the only pastor looking out over a lot of empty chairs, pews, or seats on what was once a day with a full house. I doubt if one in thirty church buildings were full today. You see, the sad fact is the parents and grandparents who were visiting with children and grandchildren today probably weren't in church as those children and grandchildren are more prone to not be affiliated with nor go to church.

I worry about my folks when they are away. I can tell you with certainty that not all, not even half were in a worship service celebrating Easter today. Satan is doing a good job on people just as he is doing a great job on our woke, cancel culture today.

Oh, and to answer your possible query about how my day was and if it were all too busy, let's just say, the working folks did show up and did do a wonderful job making the service flow. It was a good day to worship the Resurrected Lord. I just wished many other felt the same way. I don't like what America is becoming and in many aspect has already become. I do so wonder if in the next ten years at least 10% of the folks will be in church on Easter Sunday Morning. 10% - a tithe of people. Well God told Abraham that He was willing to spare the city of Sodom if he could find at least ten righteous people living there. With the exception of Lot, his wife and two daughters there were no other righteous people there and God brought down fire and brimstone on the city. It may be ten people or ten percent who could get God to spare the country with their righteousness, but, then again, God may have other plans for his people and those ones left behind? The one's not considered righteous? I guess it's "to hell with them."

May it never be with my folks who missed church today to travel. May God bring them back safely and may they come back to the fold of the church family. They are missed and my heart aches and breaks for their absence.

Happy Easter, one and all. Jesus is alive!!!

 

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Blogging

Blogs are about the blogger. It's as if he or she merely toots their own horns about the things they do, say and love.

My life is boring. I read, I watch Glenn Beck and Mark Levin. I listen to Andrew Wilkow. I engage in some conversation with those who are willing to listen (they being masochistic and enjoy killing themselves with my banter).

I plan on just laying out the things that bother me and the things I love. Nothing in-between. I hope you find whatever I put here amusing.