It's (mostly) about family
I was raised a Catholic and practiced my faith until I was 20. However I noticed that the church did not provide tools for coping with life, except for prayer. When praying didn’t work, people turned to other ways to cope, usually substance abuse. I also could not agree with many of the church’s beliefs, such as birth control and original sin. I got tired of making excuses for the church, so I left and never looked back.
Loved reading this! Very insightful, frightening, and...hopeful? I’m a single dad. Non-denominational Christian, God is the center of my life. It’s scary to think about my child not having faith when she grows up, but your thoughts give me a lot to chew on about it.
My pastor always says children see everything, hear everything, forget nothing, and repeat. In alignment with your statement on family.
Diversity may decrease religious participation but I believe it also raises quality of faith over quantity. Maybe less people in church but deeper devoted in a diverse population.
Love it! I’m new here and definitely had to subscribe to this one, glad to have found you to get me started, looking forward to more!
Another way family can play a part:
If you’re religious and your family mostly isn’t, you can’t count on family to support your religious observance. Faith time and family time may compete rather than support each other.
That’s how it is in my family, at least. When I was young and single, I could juggle the tension. Now as a mildly disabled mother of young kids, I can’t. I figured out in my teens that my family found my religious involvement an inconvenience and sometimes even a betrayal — for example, a betrayal of my obligation as a daughter to help out with hostess duties during holidays.
Since the COVID interruption of church services, those family members who had moved a weekly activity from Sunday to Saturday to accommodate my churchgoing have moved it back to Sunday: I know how inconvenient it would be for them to move it to Saturday again, and how little I can afford to blow off family ties as a mom who’s more medically dependent on family support than she expected to be.
Any support network naturally expects reciprocity. True of family, true of church. In my continued absence from church since reopening, I know I’m forgoing the opportunity to become embedded enough in church life that I can seek church aid without looking like a sponger. But of course I don’t want to look to my family like a sponger who expects her family to indulge her “little religious hobby”, either.
If I were the well-educated superwoman I was raised to be, this wouldn’t be a problem, because I’d have the capacity to contribute to two non-overlapping families (church family and bio family) without asking for much in return.
No wonder it’s the already-successful moms who are most likely to get their kids to church!
Family does play a part in another way. Both my husband & were raised Catholic and raised our 5 kids as Catholic, including parochial schools & Catholic colleges. However, 1 kid was told by a priest not to bother getting married in the Church;a second observed many drunk priests on a regular basis, the 3d wrote about the molestation of children by priests in Alaska, and one of church going one came out as trans which is anathema to the Church doctrine. The 5th, also a Church goer quit in support of his sister. When Church doctrine harms families, many of us leave.
Mary Eberstadt (Nick's wife) wrote a great book on this subject a decade ago. It really holds up. https://www.amazon.com/How-West-Really-Lost-Secularization/dp/1599474662/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3BXWFIFWPJHBL&keywords=mary+eberstadt+adam+and+eve+after+the+pill+revisited&qid=1691679294&sprefix=Eberstadt%2Caps%2C82&sr=8-3
The simplest explanation for people leaving church is they don't believe what churches teach is real. For example they don't believe hell is real. They don't believe in virgin births and resurrections. They have figured out prayer doesn't change anything around them.
Why focus so much on family and education aspects instead of finding out whether people leave church due to lack of belief?