US cleric explains why belief in God is at all-time low, says COVID made it worse

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A new Gallup poll shows that Americans trust in god The lowest level ever reached.

And four Christian leaders said a number of factors, including young people filling their lives with things other than God and anxiety from the coronavirus lockdown, have contributed to the decline.

The survey revealed that 81% American Believe in God, which is a six-figure drop from 2017 and represents the lowest percentage ever recorded by Gallup. The biggest drop in faith in terms of age groups was the 10% drop in 18- to 29-year-olds who say they believe in God.

Bart Barber, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Farmersville in rural East Texas and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Fox News Digital that more and more people in the United States “not only have no affiliation with the faith congregation, but actually have time.” Neither is there. To stop life and think of anything spiritual.”

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“Even some people who identify themselves as Christians and say that they believe in God and have accepted the gospel, many of them, find the church and contemplation and worship in their lives.” I’ve been squeezed from the schedule,” Barber explained.

Window lights shining on rows of empty church pillars in the sanctuary of a church.

Rev. Lawrence R. Rast Jr., president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a former Lutheran pastor, told Fox News Digital, “People continue to search and continue to think about the big questions, but the lack of it sets them apart. Dedicated space and time leads to the chaos we currently see around us.”

young people are the demographic that Catholic Bishop Robert BarronThe bishop-designate of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester and founder of Word on Fire, is “of most concern” because he has “inherited the attenuation of religious practice” that is prevalent in the society.

“When I was a kid, my parents assumed that we would be brought up in congregation, we would be taught the ways of prayer, we learned about the saints. They immersed us in that world,” said Baron. remembered. “Well, when you don’t immerse people in that world, you say, ‘Oh, it’s up to you, you decide what you want to do when you turn 16.’ You lose all that. And then we wonder why the youth are wandering and the youth have lost their sense of purpose and meaning?”

The President of the Council of Bishops, Bishop Thomas J. bickerton United Methodist Churchtold Fox News Digital that, in some ways, the survey is not surprising because churches have lost many generations of parishioners by not “nurturing” young people in the faith.

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“We’re missing two or three generations of people who aren’t immersed in church rhythms or worship. They’re not involved in relationships in the church. They’re doing other things,” Bickerton said. “For me, the practice of my faith is what fuels my deepest faith in God, and if you find generations that are not practicing the rhythm of worship in the church or practicing their faith, then there is nothing in it.” It is not surprising that they are now doubting God or not. Existing.”

sanctuary of a small church

sanctuary of a small church

The lack of relationship building and practice of church traditions, which contributed to the decline in faith in God, was severely exacerbated. coronavirus lockdown Across the United States, faith leaders said.

“I’ve talked to a lot of young people who say, ‘You know, through this COVID thing, I’ve been skeptical about whether God exists or what is my relationship with God,'” Bickerton told People. Getting contacted is an “everyday occurrence” with questions about struggling to keep your faith.

“You can’t underestimate the power of relationships,” Bickerton said. “So I think the separation has given rise to a sense of skepticism.”

Barber recalled a situation during the COVID lockdown that “shook the needle” for her when a grandmother in her congregation urged her to reopen the sanctuary as her son was battling depression after losing his father and Was in a “bad place” mentally and emotionally. Entering worship.

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“COVID, when you throw it in, people are even more isolated and people are even thrown out of the church,” Barber said. “COVID accelerated things that were already in trend before that.”

A study conducted by conservative think tank Just Facts has concluded that the coronavirus lockdown will cause stress and anxiety destroy seven times More years of life were saved than in the lockdown, and several studies have shown that alcohol, drug use and suicides have increased significantly during the pandemic.

“You see it at almost every level where there is no opportunity for community engagement or there is a purposeful rejection of engagement with the community. Whatever form that may take, people try to fill that void in some way or the other. ,” said Rast. “So many more instances of self-harm, higher instances of suicide, real issues with mental well-being that people are facing, and how do you address them? Well, often people self-medicate, and so we’ve got real Have seen growth in this regard as well.”

Barron said the pandemic had “a huge impact,” including a “very negative impact on young people” which he has seen “close-up”.

“Religious practice, prayer, going collectively, attend a religious serviceAs it goes away, the convictions are going to be proven,” Barron said. “They have to be embodied, they have to be practiced.”

People gather inside Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Buffalo, NY during a mass gathering on January 12, 2014.

People gather inside Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Buffalo, NY during a mass gathering on January 12, 2014.

Several faith leaders who spoke with Fox News Digital put some of the blame for the decline in faith in God. United States of america on the churches themselves.

Barron told Fox News Digital that churches deserve some blame because they have stopped “challenging” youth.

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“We try to make religion user-friendly as well,” Barron said. “We try to make it culture-friendly. No. We speak out of ancient tradition, which for centuries has been acquainting people with life and the mystery of the path and meaning.

“And if we just adopt a hand-writing stance and apologetics we’re only going to go into culture, and young people are going to say, ‘The heck with you,’ and they’ll find it disjointed and reluctant to undermine trust. stop doing it.”

Rast told Fox News Digital that he believes various scandals in churches across the country have contributed to people turning away from their faith.

“I think it has allowed many people to say to themselves, ‘If this is what the Church is,’ if this is christianityIf this is the result of belief in God, then who needs it?'”

Archbishop Gregory Aymond holds the procession to lead a livestreamed Easter Mass at St. Louis Cathedral on Sunday, April 12, 2020 in New Orleans.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond holds the procession to lead a livestreamed Easter Mass at St. Louis Cathedral on Sunday, April 12, 2020 in New Orleans.
(AP photo/Gerald Herbert, file)

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Bickerton said young people in the church have become disillusioned that they are being practiced on Mondays by not seeing what they hear in church on Sundays.

“I think God is sure to change, among other things, but I also believe it’s the church’s fault at the time because the younger generation is very vocal about saying what they hear on Sundays. Tired of what they don’t experience on Mondays. From the people sitting in the pew,” Bickerton explained.

“Living out of our faith isn’t just a journey into a worship service, it’s an encounter in the world. And the younger generation wants to see how faith lives in the culture. And when it doesn’t, when there is inconsistency in the church people. It creates a lot of doubt within them, ‘Does this belief really matter?'”

While the Gallup poll has caused concern among church leaders, some faith leaders who spoke to Fox News Digital expressed optimism for the future, including Rust. He pointed out that the percentage of people who believe in God in the United States is still higher than the voting shows. European Countries,

“When you look at the longer term, what’s really remarkable is that with a recent Gallup poll indicating that only over 80% of Americans believe in God, it’s actually more than the rest of Western culture.” Quite a striking number in comparison.”

Barber explained that his optimism for the future comes from his study of history And their belief is that atheism does not provide the answers that people who have abandoned the faith are looking for.

“There have been times in the history of Western civilization that society has become disillusioned with the idea of ​​religion in general or Christianity in particular and has turned away from the idea of ​​God or the practice of faith as seen by them. -Father or grandparent decides to choose differently for themselves,” Barber said.

“But I am encouraged by the fact that, time after time, again and again, in the cycles of history, people are becoming disillusioned with life without God because there are deep questions in life for which atheism simply don’t provide good answers.

“So I remain optimistic,” Barber said. “I am a long-term optimist and a short-term realist about the situation in the United States with respect to people and their faith right now.”