Hard times for GodCo

Looks like the god business is experiencing a market downturn like every other business:

Seventy-five percent of Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1990, the figure was 86 percent.

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League said he thinks a radical shift towards individualism over the last quarter-century has a lot to do it.

“The three most dreaded words are thou shalt not,” he told Lou Dobbs. “Notice they are not atheists — they are saying I don’t want to be told what to do with my life.”

At the same time there has been an increase in the number of people expressing no religious affiliation.

Chalk it up to umpteen years of having crap piety shoved down our throats, umpteen years of being told that large segments of the American populace had to be denied full civil rights in order to placate an invisible guy in the sky, chalk it up to Jesus-whooping hysterics screaming persecution every time a judge told them they weren’t allowed to flog schoolchildren through prayer sessions every morning. I find any one of these explanations far more persuasive than the deep thoughts of William Donohue or Lou Dobbs.       

I also find that the older I get, the less sense religion makes to me as a clue to anything except the character of its adherents. People who are small-minded and nasty in their religion carry those qualities into other areas of life. People who are thoughtful and generous in their religion are people I like being around, even though I have no interest in their sky-guy conversations. People who use religion to bring out the best in themselves are fine by me.

As to the question of what comes next after this life, all I can say is that this is probably the only question in the universe that we can all be certain will be answered, definitively, sooner or later, in direct and personal terms. So instead of arguing doctrinal differences that carry all the intellectual weight of Quake vs. Quisp (or Frankenberry vs. Count Chocula), I prefer to concentrate on the beauties of the world and the well-being of the people around me.

I realize that in the eyes of many, this makes me a morally unserious person. I’m sorry. I really don’t think that an entity of infinite power and knowledge is out there oiling the gears of the universe, but if there is, I doubt this entity really cares if people eat the wrong food, or wash themselves with the wrong hand, or sleep with the wrong people, or play on the wrong football team. If I have better things to worry about, I fiugure God probably does, too. 

On the plus side, this makes me a poor choice if you’re looking for someone  eager to set bombs during the Olympics, pilot airliners into office buildings or shout vile garbage at mourners during funerals for gay people. I’m not interested. In fact, I think you’re ridiculous at best, though I’m polite enough not to say so unless you’re one of those people who insist on viewing me as the raw material for their next evangelical masterstroke. People like that, I eat for lunch.

So call me shallow. I guess that’s just have to live with myself.

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