It Is Now Official and The News Is Bad
Monday, Monday can’t trust that day. On Monday, March 29, 2021, three stories came out in the American media that should bring a great deal of clarity to the situation that we currently face in the United States specifically and in the Church as a whole. These three stories summarized the exact state we find ourselves in today and through this article, we will learn why we are really in such a condition.
First, Gallup Polls released a story by Jeffrey M. Jones, entitled, “U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time.” Gallup Poll has been tracking US Church memberships annually since 1937. This was the first year that Church Membership of the United States had dropped to under 50 percent of the population. His story based on their poll had three key findings:
- In 2020, 47% of U.S. adults belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque
- Down more than 20 points from the turn of the century
- Change primarily due to rise in Americans with no religious preference
Jeffrey M. Jones explained, “Americans' membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup's eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21st century. As many Americans celebrate Easter and Passover this week, Gallup updates a 2019 analysis that examined the decline in church membership over the past 20 years.”
Jeffrey M. Jones' conclusions on why we have this drop in attendance included,” The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years. As would be expected, Americans without a religious preference are highly unlikely to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, although a small proportion -- 4% in the 2018-2020 data -- say they do. That figure is down from 10% between 1998 and 2000. Given the nearly perfect alignment between not having a religious preference and not belonging to a church, the 13-percentage-point increase in no religious affiliation since 1998-2000 appears to account for more than half of the 20-point decline in church membership over the same time. Most of the rest of the drop can be attributed to a decline in formal church membership among Americans who do have a religious preference. Between 1998 and 2000, an average of 73% of religious Americans belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. Over the past three years, the average has fallen to 60%.”
However, let me offer a very valid observation here. He points out that the majority of the people who do not attend Church are currently the people who are under the age of 30. If this is the case it would not be a very rationale for this step and steady decline rests in the failure of the religious education system to teach these children their religious education while they were still young. With falling numbers of people attending Churches and with fewer people attending Religious Education programs- is there little wonder why people when they reach adult status have no idea of what the Church is or what role God plays in their life. Many of these people have attended Church irregularly, have not kept up on their Sacraments, and may not really have an understanding that Jesus Christ came to this earth to teach us a way of life. We are supposed to live this life. The Church is a verb- meant to be lived not a noun meant to be a museum.
Second, on Monday, March 29, 2021, The Washington Post ran a story on this exact poll. Then in the Tuesday morning March 30, 2021 edition on Section A page they ran another article on the top of the page with bold headlines, “ Religious membership in the U.S. falls below 50%, poll finds,” This was a story by Sarah Pullman Bailey and included the facts from the poll plus these observations from people that she interviewed for this story:
For some Americans, religious membership is seen as a relic of an older generation, said Ryan Burge, an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and a pastor in the American Baptist Church. Burge said many Christians still attend church but do not consider membership to be important, especially those who attend nondenominational churches. But no matter how researchers measure people’s faith — such as attendance, giving, self-identification — Americans’ attachment to institutional religion is on the decline. Burge, who recently published a book about disaffiliation Americans called “The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going,” predicts that in the next 30 years, the United States will not have one dominant religion. “We have to start thinking about what the world looks like in terms of politics, policy, social service,” Burge said. “How do we feed the hungry, clothe the naked when Christians are half of what it was. Who picks up the slack, especially if the government isn’t going to?”
Tara Isabella Burton, author of “Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World,” attributes the national decline in religious affiliation to two major trends among younger Americans. First, she points to a larger distrust of institutions, including police and pharmaceutical companies. Some Americans are disillusioned by the behavior of religious leaders, including the Catholic sex abuse scandal and the White evangelical alignment with former President Donald Trump. The other major trend Burton describes is people mixing and matching from various religious traditions to create their own. Many people who don’t identify with a particular religious institution still say they believe in God, pray or do things that tend to be associated with faith. “Why shouldn’t I pray or meditate or attend a liturgy, or perhaps I feel closer to the divine when I can do something privately rather than something that’s prescribed for me,” she said. “It’s my own spin on it.”
Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued in a recent essay for the Atlantic that what was once a religious belief has been replaced by political belief in many communities. On the political right, he said in an interview, conservative Christians focused on Trump as a political savior rather than on their traditional questions of morality.
And on the political left, Hamid said, strains of wokeism have taken religious notions like sin and ex-communication and repurposed them for secular ends. Hamid said that because there aren’t clear leaders, such as priests or imams, or a transcendent source that defines belief, the standards for what is considered “woke” continue to change.
“The vacuum [of religion] can’t just remain a vacuum,” Hamid said. “Americans are believers in some sense, and there have to be structures of belief and belonging. The question is, what takes the place of that religious affiliation?”
Brothers and sisters, this is the very scary part and this is the reason why we should wake up to what is happening all around us today. Remember this quote, “ The question is, what takes the place of the religious affiliation?” Go back to and reread this article. The purpose of this story and the timing of these stories are really the keys to understanding what is going on in America now and what is going on in the Church. We need to wake up- not woke up. We need to get our priorities straight and once again learn to remember what our purpose here is supposed to be on earth. Are we living for today or are we living forever? If you live for today, you will miss the mark of living forever. Eternal life with Jesus should be the goal. The goal of much of the media is to distract us and to gently lead us astray from our real and important goals. They make things appear to seem to be real and really important. However, they are not either. They are like fool’s gold- all shiny and worthless. Do not be fooled by carefully placed media stories about the marginalization of our Lord and Savior during the holiest part of the Year. Will you be fooled by this? Can you handle the truth? What is really about to take place- can you handle it? This is part which I am most concerned about.
Third, on Monday, March 29, 2021, the U Catholic Blog reposted a post from Billy Ryan on May 22, 2017, entitled, “The Terrify Vision of Pope Leo XIII.” His post stated:
On October 13th, 1884, exactly 33 years before the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, Pope Leo XIII had a terrifying vision of the future of the Church. With a handful of cardinals and Vatican staff members in attendance, Pope Leo XIII had finished celebrating Mass in the Vatican Chapel. He suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar, his face had turned ashen white and remained there standing for about ten minutes in a trance-like state. Later when asked what had happened, Pope Leo XIII said that as he was about to leave the altar he heard two voices. One voice was of a kind and gentle nature, while the other voice was guttural and grating. He listened to the voices, which seemed to emanate from the tabernacle, and overheard the following conversation:
The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to our Lord: “I can destroy your Church.” The gentle voice of our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.” Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.” Our Lord: “How much time? How much power? Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.” Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.” After having the vision, Pope Leo immediately went from the Vatican Chapel to his private office and wrote the Prayer to Saint Michael, giving with it the instructions that it is prayed after all Low Masses.
The shorter version of the prayer written to Saint Michael the Archangel, which was instructed to be prayed after all Low Masses, is below:
“Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”
This is exactly why we must not give up hope or lose our focus on what is about to happen. Here, you see that Pope Leo XIII saw what was coming. Satan would tempt the Church. Now, we see on the same day, two more examples of the results of what is going on all around us. People are leaving the Church and are forgetting to believe in God. We must and we can not fail. We must stay strong, and we must come to the aid of the Church and our Lord Jesus Christ. If you remember one thing from this article remember this quote from 1 Maccabees 2:27
Then Mattathias cried out in the town with a loud voice, saying: “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!”
We now know what we are up against, let us roll up our sleeves and get to work for Christ, the battle is not over and with your help, the battle is just about to be won.