A few days ago, I read an article about how millennials are turning away from religion. A college friend shared it. She’s a devoted churchgoer and she thinks it’s “sad” that so many people are turning away from religion. I was intrigued, so I decided to share it with my own friends.
The first person who responded clicked the “sad” reaction. I was perplexed by that, so I wrote this:
I don’t think it’s a sad thing. Some people simply aren’t into religion, and many people have suffered abuse in religion. If they are happier outside of it, that should be alright.
I grew up mainstream Presbyterian. For the most part, I don’t miss going to church, even though I went for most of my childhood. When I was growing up, everybody went to church. Most of my friends were Baptists or Methodists, but a few were at the Presbyterian church with me, and I had a few Episcopalian friends. I didn’t have Catholic friends until I got to college and started mingling with people from Northern Virginia again. It wasn’t until later than that that I encountered Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish people, and Muslims.
A lot of people my age have quit attending church, and it sounds like a lot of younger people have, too. I didn’t hate church… well, I shouldn’t say that. As a child, I didn’t like it because I found it boring. My mom was always playing organ and my dad was in the choir, so I sat with the wife of a man who was also in the choir. She kept me occupied. But for me, it wasn’t really a family thing. I know in some families, religion and church attendance is important and part of being in the family. For me, it was almost like it was optics. We didn’t say grace at my house, or bedtime prayers– at least not beyond my toddler years. My dad was more religious than my mom, but I really think it was a social and musical outlet for him. For my mom, it was a source of income. And I went to church because they worried what people would think if they didn’t take me, even though my parents rarely attended the same church.
The guy who clicked the “sad” reaction wrote, “some of us seem to have found a really secure, not so corrupted home church – though not within the doctrine we were raised.” So I responded,
Good for you. If you like church, by all means go to church. I’m for people doing what makes them happy, as long as they don’t hurt other people.
I think it’s much sadder when a person feels “trapped” by religion because if they stop believing or acting like they believe, they’ll be disowned. The LDS church was used as one “reason” Bill wasn’t fit to see his daughters. Of course, that was complete bullshit, and the truth about what happened is now becoming very apparent to his younger daughter.
Every day, I read stories written by young Mormons who feel forced to go on church missions or be disowned by their families… Or people who have to hide their sexuality because of religion and the threat of being ostracized. For too many people, religion is used as a means to control others or an excuse to be closed-minded to other people’s lifestyles or politics.
It’s not just the Mormons who are guilty of this, of course. That just happens to be the religion that affected us personally.
But if you’ve found comfort in religion, great. I am happy for you. Personally, I didn’t have a bad experience with church. I just don’t think it’s a tragedy that some people have turned away from it. Not everyone needs church to be happy.
Just this week, I read a thread on RfM written by an 18 year old guy who is upset because he doesn’t believe in Mormonism, but is scheduled to start his two year mission in Tampa, Florida next month. He doesn’t want to go. His believes his parents will kick him out of the house if he doesn’t do his two years of door knocking for the LDS church. He came to RfM to ask for advice– ideas on what he can do to get out of the mission, yet not wind up homeless.
I know it sounds far-fetched that loving parents would disown their child over something like religion. Sadly, this was not the first time I heard or read of such a thing. In fact, the Mormon church is rife with stories about adult children who have found themselves cast out because they don’t believe in the religion, or perhaps they suffer from what the church calls “same sex attraction”. Lots of homosexual Mormons deny their sexual orientations and try to live the straight life in the name of religion. It’s not fair for them, and it’s certainly not fair for their spouses, who will never truly be attractive to their partners.
Not long ago, Ed Smart, father of kidnap victim turned activist Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He and his wife, Lois, have six children and are divorcing after many years of marriage. I’m sure Mrs. Smart is devastated by this turn of events. She’s not alone, either. LDS writer, Carol Lynn Pearson, who is still a devout believer, was married to a homosexual man and had children with him. After it became clear that her husband is gay, Pearson got a divorce. Her ex husband later contracted AIDS and died. Fortunately, his family, including his ex wife, still loved him very much and were by his side as he drew his last breaths. Carol Lynn Pearson’s daughter, Emily, went on to marry Steven Fales, a homosexual man who had been raised to believe that he had to marry a woman to be able to make it to the highest echelon of heaven. The marriage failed, just as it had between her parents. Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone involved if homosexuality weren’t deemed sinful? It would have been so much easier for everyone to find partners with whom they were sexually compatible.
I’m picking on the Mormons here, but that church is certainly not the only one guilty of screwing up members’ lives by causing people to feel shame for simply being who they are. Life is already difficult without people coming over to your house, looking to see if you have a coffeemaker or judging you for the DVDs in your collection. Moreover, people are very busy. Sundays used to be for rest, but a lot of people are forced to work on Sundays. Maybe they would like to be in church rather than at work, but maybe they would prefer to stay home and rest.
Personally, I don’t miss attending church. Bill is not a fan of organized religion and doesn’t want to go to church anymore. But he’s one of the most soulful, spiritual people I know. He believes very much in God. He doesn’t believe in organized churches, although he has said that if he had to go back, he’d go back to being Catholic. That suits me fine, although I am not Catholic myself and know little about it.
Another friend wrote that she finds God when she takes walks in nature. I can relate to that myself. In fact, Rhonda Vincent sang a song about it.
As for me… I can’t say I’m an atheist yet. I believe in God. I don’t care about church. Some people find comfort and value in religion, and that’s fine with me. Many of my family members are devout Christians, even though they cheer for Trump. I find that hard to reconcile, since Trump pretty much is the opposite of a Christian role model in my opinion. For me, the music was what meant the most… and sometimes if a pastor was a good speaker who was wise and kind, I would relate to that. But I don’t feel like I need to dress up and go to church every Sunday anymore. Don’t shed a tear for me, though. I’m fine, and so are a lot of other people who live just fine without their weekly dosage of religion.