Back in high school, I began to drift away from the beliefs of my parents, my siblings, my friends, and community. It made no sense to me there might be some old white dude in a bathrobe and sandals, waving a shepherd’s crook around flinging people into Hell forever because they never got dunked in water.
The Christians I knew back then were dying out. The church was changing. There was a time you sat with your family in a hard wood pew in a dimly lit wooden church, and listened to a preacher talk for an hour, if you were lucky. Being a kid didn’t get you out of it. There wasn’t a separate place for children. Infants were held by their mothers; little kids were forced to be still and quiet.
The people in the church did things for the community and nothing was ever said about it. No one ever mentioned the fact that three or four members of the church got together and went over to someone’s house and cleaned up their yard because of sickness or poor health. People donated food because they could. Christianity didn’t need a presentation because it was a lifestyle.
Today’s churches don’t resonate with people because it’s more of a commercial than a message. There are huge television screens, microphones, piped in music, soundtracks, and all of this costs a lot of money. Churches are businesses now. There’s a contract to sign, autopay, direct deposit, and money is a big concern.
Churches have nurseries, ball fields, gyms, carpet, full kitchens, security systems, professionally designed websites, their own email domains, and it’s more of a social club than a spiritual journey.
Atheism is getting easier. Leaving the church isn’t what it once was. Now, it’s like walking away from a bar, or a restaurant. The depth of spirituality of Christians is as superficial as the strip mall buildings they’re housed in. There’s no bond of generations of families who sat in the same pews three generations ago. Convenience of parking, how pretty the lawn is, and how big the building is, yeah, that’s what the Christians are these days.
There are multi-millionaires running billion dollar industries that call themselves Christians, and there are millions of people following this in the name of a man who told people to sell their belongings and give the money to the poor.
I never truly believed. I never accepted the idea of a god of any sort, not even when Christians were good people, conscious of their beliefs at all times, and the driving force in every community. Oh yeah, the judgmental and racist churches that littered the south were a problem for many of us, but overall, I miss the Christians, those who were good people.
Christianity, if it is not dead, is on the brink of extinction. Greed, the love of political power, the raw and ugly commercialism of Christian holidays, and the idea that presentation trumps faith and service is killing the church my grandparents knew.
I always hoped to see the day religion died in America. I just never expected to be this sad about it, and I never thought for a minute it would look this goddam ugly.