Knocking on Heaven’s Door

Baby boomers go to Seminary.

 I think this is good news. Apparently the fastest growing demographic attending Seminary is now old people, defined as persons over 50. While my initial feelings are that this may be linked to the propensity of persons to find religion as they close in on death but, maybe there is something else at play. Maybe, just maybe, this could be a result of the younger generations becoming more secular and not needing the invisible being in the sky. But even if that is true, my generation will get older one day and then we might be tossing on a pair of Depends to go to “school” to then don the white collar. But I hope not. Stay secular kids.

(Source: CNN)



  1. Niam Krawt says

    Interesting. I wonder if the poor economy/depreciated retirement accounts are affecting this as well. Seems like an option for a downsized-before-crossing-the-retirement-finish-line tweenior (between adult and senior)…

  2. says

    Funny, I studied for the ministry back in my 20’s and am an atheist now that I’m (apparently) “old”.

    I hope they have a backup plan, by the way; the ministry is a profession that chews up and spits out new entrants. There are a lot of former ministers selling insurance and used cars, etc.

    • raymoscow says

      I did a lot of ‘lay ministry’ and almost went to seminary when younger, but now that I’m older I’m a happy atheist. Basically the more of religion (especially Christianity) that I studied, the less I found any of it to be true or insightful.

      If I could do it the other way around — spending my youth freethinking and learning real things, and only spent a few dottering years in church at the end — I would. Better yet, start atheist and stay that way: life’s too short to waste it with things that aren’t true.

  3. unbound says

    I think Niam Krawt may have provided the most likely answer. In this poor economy, going into ministry may be the best of bad options for many…the pay and benefits are, after all, much better than any minimum-wage job you can get.

    More sad for me is the statement that old is over 50. Getting uncomfortably close…

  4. tigre says

    Actually, I was raised by a minister and ministers are able to opt out of paying into social security. Older people are going to seminary because they’ve maxed out on social security benefits. They don’t want to pay any more money into the system if they’re unable to get any more out of it. Or at least that’s how my dad explained it.

  5. Sheila says

    LOL, I will be 50 in a year, so am not amused with being included with the ‘old folks. But, ITA, in a few decades, I expect the number of religious to decline. Although I was raised as a fundy xtian, church 3X a week, the bibble says I believe it, etc I finally abandoned this in time for my two children to be secular atheists. Only those who are truly blinded by ‘faith’ could be willing to take advantage of the masses in the form of ‘give me $ I will save your souls”. That or the genuine physcopaths, aka Ted Bundy, that will take advantage of fellow humanity no matter what.
    Unfortunately those personality disorder types will be with us always, just like the poor as per Jeebus (Mark 14:7, Matt 26:11, John 12:8).

  6. grumpyoldfart says

    It seems to me that in the past, the priests would have quietly encouraged teenagers to enter a seminary, and within a short time the place would be full (and “encouragement” ceased until the next intake).

    These days, the teenagers are not so easily conned, so the priest has a hard job finding recruits. These days the seminaries are rarely filled to capacity and the recruiters have to spread their nets far and wide in order to catch the suckers. They start out trying to catch the youngsters and then move up through the age groups.

    The current crop of 50-year-old seminarians probably think they made the decision all on their own. They have no idea how subtly they have been conned by their leaders.

  7. prochoice says

    Yes, grumpyoldfart, and the sheer number of the baby boomer generation makes the individuals who did not leave their faith behind because of life´s experience still LOOK BIG – and able to fill the seminaries.

    And on an individual level, tigre´s explanation should run in many families (even one or the other professional may tell it to her/his clients).

  8. Otrame says

    More than 20 years ago I met a young man in his early twenties who I liked a lot. Bright, fun-loving. A smart-ass with a good heart. Over the years I’ve watched him struggle. Never quite happy, disastrous relationships. He became more and more petty and ego-driven and spent more and more time with his two great fascinations, Masonry and the Catholic Church. The last time I saw him he was wearing a dog collar. He had gone to seminary and is now a priest. He is not 50 yet but it won’t be long.

    Here’s the thing. The day I met him my gaydar when off like a bomb. I wasn’t the only one who noticed at the time or since. Yet all his (disastrous) relationships have been with women. I think he has been fighting who he really is for his whole life. I think his priesthood is just another tactic in that battle. After all, giving up sex he doesn’t really want is not hard. Note I am not concerned that he will be a danger to children. I think he is seeking sanctuary from a part of himself he cannot accept. And as a bonus he gets attention and automatic “respect” to feed his battered ego.

    I wonder how many over-50 seminarians are there in response to a profound dissatisfaction with their lives, either for internal reasons, like my friend, or external ones. Mid-life crisis hits some men pretty hard, and while the traditional response is to get a young girl friend and a sports car, for some, becoming a “man of God” may seem reasonable.

    The reason for the change in demographics in seminaries is that there is ROOM there for the older men. Because too few younger men aren interested. And the seminaries are taking them because they are desparate. I think that is the explanation for the observed phenomenon.

    Of course, that may be wishful thinking.

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