“The Churchless”: Not Just Atheists

If “twenty percent” leaves you troubled—it’s doubled!
The “churchless” are very near forty percent!
It’s all in the way things are measured—so, treasured
Assumptions of culture are apt to get bent!
A third claim they’re Christians! The label’s a fable,
Cos frankly, they say it from habit, or less
They don’t go to church, and their bible is liable
To sit there, unread, like it came off the press

The atheists make up a quarter—these sort are
The skeptical types, and they’re sharp as a tack!
Some 16 percent just stopped showing—quit going
To church at one point and then never came back
The rest of them, given their druthers, are “others”
Like Muslims or Jews, or some seeker in search;
Not “godless” but “churchless”, we see them as heathen
They’ll all go to hell if they’re not in our church.

There’s a new term, including more than mere atheists, more than just heathens, but which is an important addition to our vocabulary, because someone has a new book out.

If you’re dismayed 20 percent of Americans are “nones”—people who claim no particular religious identity—brace yourself.

Try 38 percent, the figure religion researcher David Kinnaman calculates when he adds “the unchurched, the never-churched and the skeptics” to the nones.

He calls his category “churchless”—the same title Kinnaman has given his new book. By his count, roughly four in 10 people living in the continental United States are actually “post-Christian” and “essentially secular in belief and practice.”

I must admit, I am a little bit confused, though. That 38% includes some strange bedfellows:

About a third (32 percent) still identify as Christian. They say they believe in God, but they’re wobbly on connections. Kinnaman calls them “Christianized but not very active.”
[…]
• 25 percent are self-identified atheist or agnostics. Kinnaman calls them “skeptics.” And their ranks have changed in the last two decades. The percentage of women is up to 43 percent from 16 percent since 1993. Highly educated and more mainstream than before, “this group is here to stay,” he said.

• 27 percent belong to other faith groups such as Jewish or Muslim or call themselves spiritual but not religious.

• 16 percent are Christians—people with a committed relationship with Christ, Kinnaman said—who don’t go to church anymore.

32 plus 25 plus 27 plus 16… ok, that’s everybody (of the 38%). They are not all atheists, though–somewhere between fewer-than-25% (many agnostics won’t identify as atheists) to over 50% (if we arbitrarily include the “accidental atheists” from the first category), and some are explicitly and admittedly “true Christians”–others (category 3) may be every bit as devout, but in a different religion. So… what is the common denominator? They are not going to church. Some are believers, the majority claim tribal identity with Christians… so why is the “churchless” category important?

The article doesn’t actually say–it simply describes the categories. And I am not nearly cynical enough to suggest that it comes down to the fact that it is much harder to put your money in when they pass the plate.

Priorities, Priorities (Football vs Cancer)

We’ve got ISIS and Ebola, we’ve got protests in Hong Kong
We’ve got Ferguson Missouri, where the cops say, “move along”
ICU’s have children with enterovirus 68
And there’s virulence as metaphor—they call it #gamergate
There are wars across the planet; people dying every day
And the climate, half-forgotten, set to blow us all away
With so many needy causes, all so worthy of your prayers…
Could I focus your attention on a pair of millionaires?

She’s a model; he’s a quarterback (he’s really very good,
But last week, he didn’t have the game the critics thought he should)
As a pastor in Los Angeles, I know the couple well
So let’s pray for Tom’s successes! (as for ISIS, who can tell?
If Ebola is God’s judgment, who am I to disagree?)
But New England over Cincy? Won’t you pray along with me?
Oh… and tell the Bengal lineman—whose little girl has cancer—
There are times when you can pray and pray… but, sadly, God won’t answer.

I am ready to remove my eyes with a grapefruit spoon. As you might guess, I just watched the news. Light-hearted, human interest stuff, about a Los Angeles priest asking parishioners to join him in praying for someone who needs their help. Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots. Multimillionaire, married to millionaire supermodel, incredibly talented, well-practiced athlete, part of a veritable machine of a team that simply does not lose two in a row. Clearly, someone in need of God’s help.

More ABC news videos | ABC Entertainment News

The Patriots did win (yay, God!). Which means, of course, the team with the guy whose daughter is battling cancer lost (boo, God!). Which means God works in mysterious ways, or some shit.

But holy fuck, ABC News, your headline: Did Divine Intervention lead Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady to Victory?

Clearly, the Christian religion is under attack in America, in danger of disappearing from the public arena. Well, with the minor exception of EVERYWHERE.

(note…. today’s verse originally was planned to have active links for each topic, pointing you to stories on ISIS, on Ebola, on Ferguson, etc. But frankly, it got far too depressing. So I took them out. You wanna be depressed? Search for yourself.)

Atheism As A Religion: A Phenomenally Ignorant Book

Y’know what? Fuckit. I was going to write a verse for this one, but it honestly doesn’t deserve one. Not even one of mine (which, I guarantee you, take less time and effort than most). See, my aggregator tells me there is a new book out: Athesim As A Religion: An introduction to the world’s least understood faith. By Mike Dobbins. If you follow the link, you can read an excerpt. If you do not follow the link, you can read the same excerpt here, along with my reaction to that excerpt. Honestly, I would rather you not give them the clicks, but if you have doubts, by all means click through and verify. [Read more…]