10 Reasons People Are Leaving Christianity In The US

Americans Are Leaving Their Christian Faith, Here's Why



For about two decades now, we've seen a really huge shift in this country when it comes to religious beliefs, Lot fewer Christians. 

Lot more people who just want nothing to do with organized religion. So why is this happening? I can boil it down to about 10 reasons.

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The Internet

If you went to Sunday School as a kid maybe you asked a question like "Why do Adam and Eve have belly buttons in all the pictures?" and the teacher didn't answer you or she told you to "just have faith." 

Or maybe you were older and you asked your pastor if Anne Frank, the Jewish girl with the diary in World War II, was burning in Hell right now because she never accepted Jesus in her life, and he just gave you a weird look like you're not supposed to bring that up. 

But if you had doubts about religion, that's what you did. You asked your priest. You asked a religious leader. Or you asked your parents who told you to ask the priest. It was really the only option you had. 

But once there was a way to ask questions about religion in private, online, it became much easier to recognize the problems with faith and that you're not alone in questioning your beliefs. Just ask ex-Mormons who have read the CES Letter. 

Or Christian fundamentalists who finally saw easy-to-understand explanations for how science works and why we don't owe our existence to Noah and his ark. 

Having information at your fingertips is the worst thing that could have happened to religion because religion historically relied on people just believing what the priests told them. 

You're not supposed to figure religion out on your own; you're supposed to go through them. There's a reason the Catholic Church feared the invention of the printing press. 

People reading the Bible for themselves was not good news. The internet was an even bigger deal for people who grew up in insular communities. 

Ultra-Orthodox Jews were not supposed to access that sort of information about the outside world. Young Muslims from conservative families saw that life was pretty good even if you don't live under Islam. 

Mormons who looked up Joseph Smith and realized all kinds of surprises. Today, a kid sitting in the pews because her parents made her go to church can fact-check the pastor on her phone in real-time and know he's lying while his mouth is still moving. 

Google is indeed religion's greatest enemy since Charles Darwin. 

Politics 

Look, it's no secret I'm liberal, but I do think the merging of white evangelical Christianity with the Republican Party, especially in the past two decades when the Republican presidents we've had have been such disasters, has been bad for both sides. 

It's already hurt evangelicals -- their numbers are dropping. I can only hope they drag the GOP down with them in the long term. Think about this. George W. Bush entered office in 2001 with the help of conservative Christians. 

He embraced their movement. He talked about his relationship with God all the time. Then he limited stem cell research to avoid upsetting the anti-abortion crowd. 

He nominated anti-gay justices to the Supreme Court. He instituted faith-based programs using taxpayer money. But even more than that, he was famously ignorant, led us into an unnecessary war, screwed up the response to Hurricane Katrina, appointed religious ideologues to his cabinet, and was generally so awful that Barack Obama got elected in 2008. 

Do you know how badly Republicans had to screw up for Americans to do something as incredible as that? My point is this: When religion is so closely tied to a president, and that president is bad, it's not good for the religion. 

What else have conservative Christians done politically at the highest levels? Well, they supported Sarah Palin in 2008. That didn't help. Then they abandoned their whole "Christianity matters" thing to support Donald Trump. 

He's only in power because white evangelicals propped him up and overwhelmingly voted for him. I don't need to tell you all the ways Trump is a disaster, but many prominent white evangelicals have still not run away or distanced themselves from him. 

This means everything Trump does will be associated with evangelical Christianity -- and honestly, all Christians because most people don't know the differences -- for years to come. 

If you don't like Trump, and most young people don't, even if they don't always vote, they're not about to join a club that treats him as a good guy. 

Maybe the one good thing George W. Bush did is he helped so many people recognize the moral bankruptcy of conservative Christianity.

Morals 

Conservative Christians (and the politicians they support) have failed on the easiest moral questions of our time. Should gay people be allowed to get married? Of course. 

That's not even complicated... but religion often says no. Should women be housewives and basically subservient to men? No. They have their own lives. 

They are not here to serve us. Well, there are a lot of churches that might say women are equal, but the whose treatment of women says something very different. 

Should transgender people be treated with respect, and have civil rights, and be allowed to serve in the military? Some Christians still don't believe they exist. 

Should we make it harder for poor people to have health care? Jesus was all about helping the poor, but conservative Christians have fought against what they call "socialism." Should we discriminate against Muslims and atheists, and treat them as outsiders? 

Most young people, I think, grew up surrounded by friends who didn't always share their religious backgrounds. We all know religious minorities. 

We know they're good decent caring people. And yet the way some pastors talk about non-Christians is appalling. Do you think your Jewish friend deserves to burn in Hell forever? 

But your pastor probably does. We'll talk about some other specific moral issues in a bit, but if conservative Christians and Mormons and Southern Baptists and Catholics can't even get the simplest moral questions right, why would anyone trust their judgment on anything else?

Hypocrisy

The distance between what religions preach and what religious people do. has never been larger. They say they care about the poor, but we see some church leaders and televangelists living these luxurious lifestyles. 

They say they love LGBTQ people, but they spread lies about them, oppose civil rights for them, and work very hard to make their lives miserable. 

They oppose abortion, and yet more than a third of women who got abortions, according to one 2014 study, were evangelical or Roman Catholic, two groups that actively fight to block women from getting abortions that their own members are apparently getting. 

Pastors will deliver sermons about the importance of monogamy and the problems with porn then get caught in sex scandals. 

Sometimes with same-sex partners. Sometimes it's abuse involving kids. They're pro-life, but they're also pro-gun and pro-death penalty. They say truth matters, but they'll vote for politicians who lie, cheat, and steal. 

And the thing is, everyone can see this. It's not a dirty little secret. I'm not saying atheists or Democrats are perfect by any means. 

Of course not. But when you build your reputation on being ethical, but constantly get caught doing the opposite, people can see that faith is not a virtue. Being "Christian" doesn't mean you're a good person. You might be. But everyone knows you don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Kids

Even if you left the church as you grew older, there was always a trend of people returning to church when they got married and had children. It kind of made sense. 

You wanted to raise your kids in the church because you believed that was the right thing to do. It's where they learn ethics and morals. 

But going back to the hypocrisy thing, do you really believe you're helping your kids by having someone teach them myths about how the world was created, or that God will send them to Hell if they don't worship Jesus, or that their religious beliefs are right but everyone else's are wrong? 

Do you think the Catholic Church is really the epitome of ethics these days? Do you really want to leave your kid alone with a priest? If you want to teach your kids to be decent people, there are plenty of other ways to do it these days. 

Also, when you have kids, it's hard to find time to go out at all. Church used to be worth it for a lot of people. But that seems to be happening less and less, partly because of all the other things I'm mentioning here, and partly because our society is just getting more isolated. We don't gather as much as we used to, period, even outside a pandemic.

Science Climate change is real. Most young people understand this and they know we're in trouble if governments don't take quick action. 

And yet a lot of opposition to climate science, and stem cell research, and evolution, and how to respond to a pandemic comes from religious groups who oppose those things for reasons that have nothing to do with the facts. 

Even Jehovah's Witnesses oppose blood transfusions. It's not just political. At its core, science is about proving what we can and discovering evidence and asking tough questions, and using all the resources at our disposal to answer them. 

Religion is about none of that. It's about taking things on faith and believing things even when your mind tells you they can't be true. 

Even if you're able to ask hard questions, you're always told the answer is to be found in one book and only one book. 

They're just two polar opposite ways of looking at the world. And we have far too many examples right now of where we need a scientific approach but we're only getting a religious one. No thank you.

Sex

A lot of religious groups push this idea that you must be sexually abstinent until marriage... or you're broken. Right-wing Christians push for abstinence-only sex education in schools. 

The schools won't get federal funding unless they do that. They don't even want people learning about condoms or birth control. 

They definitely don't want anyone telling high-schoolers about what good sex means, and how that's different for everyone, or the importance of consent, or the idea that sexual identities are on a spectrum. 

They think talking about it will make kids want to do it. Like if we just pretend sex doesn't exist, no one will ever think about it.

Right. 

Those people have never met teenagers, apparently. And if we don't tell them about The Gay, and we never say transgender, then everyone will just be straight and cis and we can keep having a gender reveal parties. 

This mentality has always been stupid but now we're learning how harmful that is, thanks to studies that show how kids who took abstinence-only classes are just as sexually active as everyone else, if not more so, but more importantly, they don't take precautions. 

Whenever there's a teen pregnancy outbreak somewhere, you can bet good money they did not have comprehensive sex ed. 

And you can also bet there's a huge religious presence in the community. It's not just school, though. It's the whole religious mentality that equates sex with shame. 

And more people today are willing to say how wrong that is. Like people who lived that pro-abstinence life who are now speaking out and saying they wish they were never raised to think sex was a dirty word. 

Even Joshua Harris, the evangelical who spearheaded the whole "purity culture" movement apologized because he finally figured out how much damage he did. 

Do you know who else has bravely spoken out? Sexual assault victims who were abused, maybe by their church leaders, but who didn't tell even the people closest to them because the bigger crime in their heads was that they were no longer technically a virgin. 

It took them years to realize they didn't do anything wrong, and thank goodness they are letting people know that. The way religions treat sex is finally, and rightfully, backfiring. 

And just to be clear, I am not making any judgment on people who choose to be abstinent. If you want to wait, fine. I'm not saying that's good or bad. But that's very different from saying you have to wait or else. THAT is a problem.
 

Dating

There was a time when the church was the best place to meet a potential partner. But besides the fact that a lot of people meet online now, here's a simple question: If you're single and looking to meet someone, what's the biggest dealbreaker for you? 

There's a good chance that politics may be more important to you than religion. If you're a Democrat, for example, you might say "I cannot date a Trump voter" -- and vice versa -- and that makes sense, right? It's not just about your feelings about Trump. 

It's kind of a stand-in for a lot of things you take seriously. It answers a lot of questions really fast. But if you're not that religious and you meet someone who says "I'm Jewish" or "I'm Christian but not too serious about it," or "I believe in some higher power," you might just not care. 

A lot of labels don't come with baggage. I know a lot of atheists who date people who are not atheists. You just need to know the other person more. 

Or today, more than ever, you're more likely to meet someone who's just not that religious. 

And it's not weird. But the point is, you have so many other ways to meet people who share the values you hold dear... that you don't need the church to facilitate it. 

In fact, you may not want the church to have anything to do with it. Along the same lines, because there are more of these inter-religious couples nowadays, that means they're more likely to raise their kids either without a specific religion or with some weird amalgamation of different beliefs that don't really have a label. 

You'll celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. Why not?! And if your church tells you that's wrong, whatever. Forget church.

Friends

This is along the same lines as dating. One reason so many people are tied to their religion is not that they agree with all the doctrine but because that's their community. 

It's where their closest friends are, it's where they can volunteer, it's where they feel special, it's where they can find potential romantic partners. 

And I'm not knocking that. That's great if you like church. I hope you have something like that in your life. But these days, you don't need to be part of a church to find people to bond with. 

You can find communities no matter what your passion is. Do you like a video games? I promise there's an online forum obsessed with it and they'd love to talk to you. 

Same with Meetup groups or intramural sports or subreddits or Drama Club. If you don't like the family you were born into, you can find a new one that embraces you with open arms. 

And when it's easy to find other communities, it's also easier to walk away from church if you're not that big into the dogma.

Rituals

Even people who were never that religious tend to go back to church for a few things. You want a priest to conduct your wedding, maybe. But not anymore. 

How many of us either did or know someone who paid a few bucks online to get "ordained" to perform a ceremony for friends of ours who are getting married? 

It's more meaningful since you all know each other. There are also Humanist celebrants and secular celebrants and non-priests who will do that for you now. 

You don't need church. Do you want to baptize your baby? That usually only happens if both partners agree, but the odds are pretty good that at least one of you doesn't take baptism seriously. 

You're not gonna do it, then, unless there's family pressure. And with more people leaving religion, we're going to see this even bigger wave of second and third-generation atheists or kids who were just raised without faith and don't attach a lot of meaning to religious rituals. 

One day, they're gonna learn what Catholics believe about communion wafers, and their jaws will drop. We sometimes joke about people who say they're religious but only go to church on Christmas and Easter? 

I would strongly predict that even those are going to become less common. If you're not religious, or you're not pressured to be religious, why even go on those holidays? I enjoyed Christmas with my kids at home. There were gifts. There was food. There was family. 

We didn't need to waste our time listening to a sermon. 

Okay. 

That's my list. Those are some of the biggest reasons I think people are walking away from organized religion, specifically Christianity.



Originally published by Hemant Mehta on Friendly Atheist. Published on Fadewblogs by Dave Martin.

Disclaimer: This article is published on Fadewblogs with the permission of the author.

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