The Death of Christianity

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.

Take Care,

Mike

Voting for God

I became open about my atheism back in the early 1990’s. For a while I just blended in, ignored the overt, and often hypocritical professions of piety from my friends and co-workers, and stayed silent. However, being silent about a subject is a tacit expression that either your opinion is not as valued as a majority opinion, or that it’s wrong. So I began to speak out against religion, and the reaction was as strong as it was predictable. 

People whose lives are deeply rooted in religiosity not necessarily the beliefs and the actions, but the civic perception, are those who most want to stamp out any mention that there is no supernatural old white man living in a cloud bank, wearing a bathrobe and sandals, waiting to roast people who masturbate in a lake of fire for all time. Those were, and still are, the people who have the biggest problem. 

For years, decades even, because churches were the only form of mass socialization, society was shaped by what the herd thought was right. Those people who did not go to church were marginalized, and those who were walking through the door every time they opened were thought better of, even if they didn’t behave any better than anyone else. 

The idea that a person could say one thing while totally living their life in a manner opposite of those words, was baptized in America churches.

Social media has religionized nearly every opinion. It’s sanctified politics. It’s drawn a line of holy and unholy between people who would vote for one person, or another, when that line, like every god except the one you believe in, doesn’t really exist. 

Worse, infinitely worse, these lines are now being drawn in the streets, between friends, inside of families, and the nation is becoming both more divided and less informed. Religion does not inform but instead indoctrinates. The harder you believe, the less intelligent your decisions will be. Belief is not an educated choice but one derived from feelings. 

This isn’t to say that people who believe are stupid. This is merely pointing out that to truly understand why an apple drops from a tree a person could study physics, yet to believe that a Jewish zombie could bring everlasting life requires nothing more than faith, and a support group who repeats, endlessly, that this is so. 

Even the people I agreed with were becoming religious about their opinions. They demonized the people who disagreed with them, and they settled in to an echo chamber of opinions that matched their own. To break with the herd as blasphemy. 

Trust me. I know exactly how this feel and looks. I feel it again. I see it again. I’m leaving it again. 

Take Care,

Mike

Christianity Is Dead

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Once upon a time, in a land called Amerika . . .

 

It was a wild gamble, and one with consequences that were easily foreseeable. Back in the 1980’s a sudden shift in the political winds saw the Republican party actively courting Evangelic Christians. It was a ploy, a false woo, but the rewards offered were, seemingly, great for both sides. The politicians would get votes, and the Evangelics would have men in office, very rarely women, who would change the laws of the land to more reflect the values of those who voted in God’s name, Amen.

 

Abortion was the hot button issue. It didn’t matter, at all, that there were far greater issues facing the country. The Republicans farmed this issue, they mined it like it was gold, and it paid off, even though they never delivered on their promise to end abortion. They truly didn’t want to, because the Republicans believed in the sanctity of life, unless it was their sixteen year old daughter, or their mistress, who needed to get rid of a pregnancy. But to stand up in front of a crowd and call abortion murder was a sure way to get elected. And bring in money.

 

Republicans took a hit, and a pretty severe hit, when they became the party who opposed gay rights. Their efforts to criminalize sexual orientation backfired, and the Evangelics should have seen the future in this issue, but they did not. They should have realized that mixing politics and religion was an anathema to both the Constitution, and the free will of Christians, but they were blinded by the power their candidates held, and there were seduced by the amount of money that could be raised.

 

Power corrupts.

 

Once the Christian Church in America began to act as a Political Action Committee for the Republican Party, they left the path of righteousness. Instead of following the teachings of Christ, they began to following the whims of the men who used them like blind whores, offering change in abortions laws, and opposing gay marriage but emptying the coffers of the churches. Feeding the poor, clothing the needy, taking care of children, healing the sick, and all of the other actions of Jesus Christ were set aside in the name of doing the bidding of the Republican Party.

 

became the religion of those who sought personal wealth and power. Mega Churches sucked the tithes from the followers, and billionaires began to pop up in the pulpits. They preached against humanitarian actions in favor of political fervor.

Churches changed to media centers, replete with wide screen televisions, surround sound speakers, wifi, ATM’s in the lobby, Starbucks in the parking lot, and at some churches, pledges were taken from church members to donate a certain amount each month, to keep the parking lots paved, the air conditioners running at 65 degrees, and to keep the private jets in the heavens.

 

But Prosperity Christianity failed many people for many reasons. It failed the poor, it failed people of color, it failed the gay community, it failed anyone who didn’t speak English well, and it fail to address the hunger for a religion that fed the soul, not the bank accounts of the men who ran the churches.

 

When Trump was elected, it was a sign, a bright orange neon sign, that Christianity could be whored out for nothing more than the promise of oppressing of minorities, banning abortion, and setting the world right again, for theocracy. Trump enriched corporations and gutted environmental laws, trampled on the rights of anyone not white and male, and in the middle of a peaceful protest, he gassed people so he could stand in front of a church, a bible raised, both upside down, and backwards, for a photo op.

 

But even before Trump, people were leaving the church. People began responding “Spiritual not religious” to polls and surveys. Paganism began a comeback, with the promise of a more ecologically friendly, and earth based belief system. Trump’s high jacking of faith has had a scorched earth effect on the Evangelics. His crassness, his lies, his lack of a moral compass, and his disregard for civility has driven decent people away from the churches who advocated for his election.

 

I told you this would happen. I told you in the 1980’s that the separation of church and state protected both sided from one another. I said, many years ago, that once religion and politics mixed, it was like stirring manure with cookie dough. No matter how little is in the mix, it still ruins the end product. But now, there is more manure than cookie dough, and there is no way to get it back out again; there are far too many people in the church selling those cookies. And far too many people buying them.

 

Christianity as most of us once knew it, is dead. In its place is convenience store religion, something that is a little more expensive, but it doesn’t require much time, and there isn’t an expectation in the quality of the product. It’s a cheap plastic Jesus on the dashboard. It’s McDonald’s for the soul. It’s bad for the environment, for families, for the poor, for the downtrodden, and basically, anyone who once believed in the Redeemer.

 

Take Care,

Mike