13 July 2012

Confidence in Religion?

I just read an interesting article that discussed the opinion that people have of organized religion.  The article cited a recent Gallup poll that asked people to tell whether they had confidence in organized religion.  Apparently, the number of Americans saying they did have confidence in organized religion fell to an all-time low of 44%. 

This begs the question of why.  The article stated that two major trends discouraged people--the 1980s scandals of people like Jim Bakker and the 2000s Catholic scandal where priests liked altar boys a bit too much.  While there have been seemingly random swings up and down, but the trend has generally been to the negative.  Of course, the article also noted that other major institutions have also been trending down--such as schools and television news.  The others are no surprise.  One only needs to watch the news to see why both schools and television news are trending down.  Schools seem to be violent with kids often learning little, and television news, especially the cable variety is so skewed left or right with little semblance of objectivity.

All of it is sad, but especially the negative opinion of religion.  Since Christians and nominal Christians make up the vast majority of the general public in America, the findings are an indictment upon Christians to some degree.  But the truth is, as a Christian, I'm appalled by much of what falls under the general rubric of "Christianity."  Many of the "preachers" on TV seem to be peddling health and wealth, which just seems to fall right in line with the worship of money and materialism that is rampant in our society.  Jesus was rich, after all, wasn't he?  Then you have the Westboro "Baptists" of the world who think that it's great when bad things happen because they hate just about everybody.  Jesus hated everyone except a small congregation of about 50 people, right?   

When these types are what the majority of people see, is it any wonder that faith in religious institutions is falling?  Perhaps, if people in authority in religious institutions were more like Jesus, there'd be more respect, but also more disagreement.  Jesus said that he'd divide people and that his followers would divide people, just not because they act like everyone else.


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