By David Glenn Cox
Church attendance in the United States is falling faster than Matt Gaetz dating advice. It took two thousand years, but the evangelicals have finally converted Jesus from the Prince of Peace to the Grand Wizard of Bigotry. Thirty years ago, 70% of Americans called themselves regular church goers today the number is under 50%. That 50% number is like a CPR moment, time to pay attention and start chest compressions. “Thoughts and prayers everybody!”
I grew up with a Gay sibling, and the church told me they were going straight to hell and burn in a lake of fire forever. Which prompted me to say, “Fuck You!” I’m no theologian, but I know the dude’s message was to love one another not love one another unless. Always remember the Ku Klux Klan is a Christian organization there is a burning cross at the end of every show symbolizing god’s endorsement of their hate. I remember back in the day. It was Rock and Roll music, Buddy Holly and Styx were going to make me a tool of the devil. Kiss was “Knights in Service of Satan.” And Anita Bryant and Billy (say anything for a buck) Graham were going to save America by keeping Gay people out of Disneyland.
Arkansas recently passed a law allowing physicians to opt out of treating transgender people on religious grounds. What religion is that? I want no part of any religion like that! What do you do for the holidays, throw virgins in the volcano? But Republicans love that magic carpet ride and Nixon went skinny dipping with Billy Graham, but they weren’t… you know. Republican politicians know, all they need to do is bow their head close their eyes and think of naked teenagers. While the preacher says some words over them, and they will be presumed pious in the eyes of the Blue Haired Ladies against Freedom League.
Mark Twain said, “If a man could be crossed with a cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” If Republican political chicannery could be crossed with Christian Nationalism, it might improve the election turn out while poisoning the water from the well. But if it were just the irony of being dead set against every announced goal of Christianity, they might have gone out of business a long time ago. You know, burning heretics and torturing Jews. You might have thought that would have done the trick, but no.
The 50% number is even more frightening when you look at younger Americans and the number falls even further. My ex-sister-in-law changed churches because they had more youth activities. “Blessed are they with youth programs, for they shall inherit the checkbook.” Theology was an adjunct, a Gideon in the hotel nightstand, “Oh yeah, that.” The demographics are against them, the elderly are the most conservative politically and well off financially and most concerned with eternity acres. The young are the most liberal politically and well, if your dad never takes you to a baseball game you probably don’t like baseball all that much. If you attend church just for social activities how deeply held are those beliefs anyway?
But it gets harder in a world of science and technology to believe in the big mumbo jumbo. If God stopped the sun so Joshua could finish the battle of Jericho, why didn’t it get dark anyway? Two mosquitoes will do you no good; you need a swarm. If god created the heavens and the universe on the first day, what was the day before? For while the universe might not have existed, god did. The universe doesn’t need a watch…god does. The universe rocked along for billions of years before god said, “Write this down, this is Monday!”
It was easier when there were more uneducated, easier to sell shadows as the devil. Easier you to say you have too, just like your father and his father before him. Two thousand years ago if the Rabbi said, “Don’t eat shellfish” and you saw people die from eating shellfish. You might believe he was onto something. He holds the ancient wisdom! Because here in the Twenty-first century we know how wise they were back in the days before indoor plumbing or universities.
We’ve all been placed here without an instruction manual with a lot of questions. Placed in this reality to live and love for years and in a second it can all be gone. Maybe to a better world maybe worse, and maybe none. I hope for a next life, my only excuse in this one is this is my first time and I’ve never done it before, I hope to do better with practice. But religion is supposed to grease the skids as we drag our sledge through life. Supposed to create a community that puts up “No Loitering” signs in front of the church. “You know, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable in a church were I couldn’t carry my handgun.” But they’ve got good youth programs, basketball leagues where they don’t keep score. That way the kids who suck, don’t know they suck!
And finally, the Anti-Christ moment. Get your cameras ready because once the rapture begins there will be no time for fly overs. Donald Trump standing in front of a church holding a bible upside down. I think Jerry Falwell predicted that back in the 1980s or George W. Bush, I don’t remember which. But that is the image of “Today’s” Church.
Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insane—like all dreams: a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell—mouths mercy and invented hell—mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him! – Mark Twain