Let Down By The Church, By Leonard Pitts

Church attendance is shrinking.

The mosque and synagogue, too, for that matter. Not that this is breaking news. It has long been known that the numbers of Americans who belong to religious organizations are dwindling. But last week, that decline hit a milestone. For the first time since Gallup began tracking religious membership back in 1937, it has dropped below half. Back then, 73% of us belonged to some house of worship. Today, just 48% do.

Experts cite multiple reasons for the slippage, including the Catholic Church’s many sex scandals, growing distrust of institutions in general and a modern disinclination to be pigeonholed into any single theological tradition. While there is surely merit to all those observations, it seems likely that where Christianity — more specifically, the white, evangelical church — is concerned, there is also another explanation for the disappearance of the missing congregants.

Some were driven from the churches.

Consider it a byproduct of the rise, a little over 40 years ago, of the so-called religious right as a political force. Suddenly, Jesus of Nazareth, the itinerant rabbi whose life, death and life have inspired believers for two millennia, was adopted as a mascot of Republican conservatism.

Read the rest of Pitts’ opinion piece here.

See Gallup here.

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