In the midst of a pandemic, one would expect a massive shift towards religion. Every religion. It is mainly in times of crisis that humans turn to the Divine for protection, for mental relief, for strength.
However, in our time, the opposite is happening. According to the latest poll by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of religious people among all religions continues to decline.
Specifically, the percentage of Christian Americans decreased to 63% compared to 65% in 2019 and 78% in 2007.
Meanwhile, 29% of Americans declare themselves atheists, compared to 26% in 2019 and 16% in 2007.
I hope that these elements will ring the bell of conscience and responsibility in every responsible Christian leader.
And I hope that these leaders will pay close attention to the reasons why such a large percentage of people are turning away from religion.
Although I did not find age-related data in the Wall Street Journal, from which I drew this information, I nevertheless l believe that the percentages of young people moving away from religion are much higher than for other age groups.
Young people, who in today’s world gain information at lightning speed, find unacceptable the hypocrisy, the scandals, and the general departure of many religious leaders from the right path of their religions. The result is that the frustration and sometimes, the disgust, they feel drives them away from religion, as it is difficult for them to separate religion from the clergy.
We also often do not take into account that the people who make up the clergy, in every religion, emerge from their own societies. And the greater the decline that a society goes through, the more problematic are the people who staff the ecclesiastical organizations.
However, one would expect that the Church leadership would make more accurate assessments of the people they select or allow to become clergy and also that they would be immediately removed upon the first finding of serious behavior inconsistent with their function.
But it seems that in many cases the criteria for selecting the clergy – of all religions – are wrong, probably due to the fact that often the leaders doing the selecting have been elevated according to similar criteria and, therefore, are the wrong people to be making those judgments. Friendship may also interfere in the process – loneliness is part of the reality in the Orthodox and Catholic churches.
Yet here we are talking about religions. We are talking about the salvation of human souls. We are talking about a person’s ability to live a virtuous, serene life, in harmony with the moral teachings of their religions.
That’s why their responsibility is enormous.