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The Pew Research Center did a “Religious Landscape” study a few years ago.
From the report, “The 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study is based on telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans from all 50 states. This is the second time the Pew Research Center has conducted a Religious Landscape Study. The first was conducted in 2007, also with a telephone survey of more than 35,000 Americans.”
Of interest to us here, 22.8% are “Unaffiliated(religious ‘nones,’)” of which 7.1 % stated they were either atheists or agnostic.
Following the math, we have 77.2% who could be attending some sort of religious service regularly.
The following list(in no particular order) is paradoxical.
These could be excuses for skipping or reasons for attending. See if any fit your experience.
- Work schedule
- The preacher
- The sermons
- Length of service
- Policies of the national or international church hierarchy
- Dress code
- Manner of worship (snakes, shouting, quiet solitude, traditional,modern, singing, no singing)
- Music(too traditional, too contemporary, too loud)
- Tithing or emphasis on money
- Can’t find our “church home”
- Other members (crying babies to stubborn octogenarians)
- I grew up in the ________Church and…
- No one there like me
- Not welcoming
- I couldn’t find a covered dish I liked
- I’m just not religious
- I can worship at home alone just fine
- Can’t live up to the demands of Christianity
- The Bible is just another book
- Not now, I’ve got too much living to do.
- Too tired.
- Feel sick and have to rest up for work.
- Nothing/or not enough for kids.
- Questions around suffering: why do bad things happen to good people? How could a loving God…?
- Hypocritical “Christians”
- Judgemental religion
- They want to coerce me into serving on a committee.
- I want to make a difference in the world and all the church cares about is self preservation.
- I worship by listening to Rev. _______ on TV/radio
NOTE: The above list of thirty reasons/excuses was compiled from personal experience, conversations with other sometimes churchgoers and input from four pastors whom I have the honor of referring to as friends: Aryn Williams-Ruebel, Dave Cottrell, Bruce McGee, and Paul Brown.
My plans include a series of articles. I will explore how folks consider the above criteria in deciding whether or not to attend.
Today, we address the first one, our work schedule.
Everybody has a mortgage to pay.
If we didn’t work, how could we tithe?
We can’t all work for Chick-fil-A or Hobby Lobby.
Even some of the companies identified by Business Insider as being intensely religious stay open for business on the Sabbath.
Sunday closing laws (“Blue Laws”) are still in effect but seldom are responsible for closing a business entirely. In Bergen County, New Jersey, you can’t buy an X-box, clothing, or furniture on Sunday, but if a variety store has other items available, they stay open and you can still shop there. If you work there, voila! Your “work schedule” excuse is still valid.
Some denominations offer vigil services the night before their Sabbath and in these cases, the work excuse isn’t as easy, unless you work till nine on Saturday and go in at eight on Sunday.
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