I have long felt Christianity in the US has become a hollow shell of its former self, and apparently I am not the only one, as the churches are emptying out:
South Carolina churches are shedding thousands of members a year, even as the state’s population grows by tens of thousands.
In the place we call the Bible Belt, where generations have hung their hats on their church-going nature and faithful traditions, an increasing trend of shrinking church attendance — and increasing church closings — signals a fundamental culture shift in South Carolina.
At least 97 Protestant churches across South Carolina have closed since 2011, according to data from the Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist and Southern Baptist denominations. An untold number of other closings, certainly, are not captured by these statistics.
Many churches are dying slow deaths, stuck in stagnation if not decline. And if they don’t do something, anything, in their near future, they’ll share the fate of Cedar Creek United Methodist, a 274-year-old Richland County congregation that dissolved last year; Resurrection Lutheran, a church near downtown Columbia that will hold its last service on Sept. 2; and the dozens of churches that sit shuttered and empty around the state.
Studies and surveys have documented the decline of self-identified Christians and the rise of “nones,” or the religiously unaffiliated, across the United States for years.
The Pew Research Center describes the United States as in the midst of “significant religious change. ”The share of Americans who identify with Christianity is declining, while those who say they have no religion is growing rapidly.
“You didn’t have a choice when I was a child. You went to church,” said Happy Meglino, who grew up in a Southern Baptist church and now attends Whaley Street United Methodist with her husband, Mark, and their 5-year-old daughter, Julianna. “My mom played the organ, and my brother and I were going to be there every time the doors were open. And your friends were there, too. … If you were going to be a good Southern girl, accepted socially, you went to church. If you didn’t go to church, mmm, we don’t know about you.”
Now, though, a church isn’t a line you need on your social resume.
Why is this happening? I may do a longer post on this some time in the future, but I’ve long thought four key factors were the cause. The first two are a combination of social pressure from the culturally dominant left, which favors religious Marxism and “alternative” faiths like Islam, and soft government pressure.
By the government pressure, I mean the government’s obsession with de-Christianizing public spaces, particularly public schools (while often promoting alternative faiths such as Islam) and the soft bias against devout, outspoken Christians who run for public office or seek high offices in the bureaucracy.
The third factor is the Marxification of the churches. Too many churches essentially promote the same kinds of values that the Democrats promote. If I want to hear what the Democrats think, I’ll turn on CNN, which is a much better source for religious Marxism than a Christian church.
The last factor is that Christianity has become empty ritual and is “all carrot, no stick.” Islam and other faiths have many tools to keep followers from leaving the faith, including hard penalties in Islam (risk of physical harm to one’s self and one’s family) and soft pressure (social shunning and shaming). Christianity has gone to the other extreme, where it asks nothing and demands nothing of its followers. Indeed, the Pope has gone so far as to claim Hell doesn’t exist.
Am I on target? What do you think about this problem? Can this trend be reversed? Have your say in the comments.