Pope Francis recently announced steps to have the Catholic church respect the rights of gay people and to make marriage annulment easier and cheaper, while Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle advised Filipinos not to work too hard – to drop what they’re doing – and to go “smell the roses.” Religion is losing its battle to win the hearts and minds of people because it no longer serves what people seek from it: their spiritual salvation and an eternal afterlife.
Polls and surveys of people worldwide indicate that for the past century, religious organizations have been focusing on the mundane – sex, money, politics, and business – while dogmatically intruding in people’s personal affairs. The same polls and surveys also show that wealthier nations – whose populations tend to be more educated and progressive-thinking – are becoming less religious. People in wealthier countries tend to be more inquiring of their institutions.
The world’s major religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – make the same mistake: they dogmatically and oppressively try to control the material, social and political aspects of people’s lives instead of focusing on the supernatural. For the past century, people have felt the pinch – and people are leaving the church in droves to join the ranks of the world’s nonreligious.
A number of polls indicate that large percentages of the world’s population have become nonreligious. One poll reported by Bloomberg News, shows that in China (the world’s most populous country), 90 percent of the people are atheists, while in Europe, 75 percent of Swedes and Czechoslovakians say they are either atheist or agnostic.
A whopping 36 percent of the people in the world’s 196 countries (including Taiwan) consider themselves nonreligious – they do not belong to or participate in any church. Ninety percent of these people say they lean more toward atheism than agnosticism.
These figures spell a bad omen for religion as a whole and compel us to figure out where the problem lies. Why are people leaving the church and abandoning religion and religious beliefs? Some say it is because people worldwide are becoming more educated and more knowledgeable. Some studies indicate that people have begun to realize that religion is no longer tending to their spiritual needs but instead meddling in their earthly affairs.
When people go to church, they think of “Why am I here?” They see all the earthly activities that take place in church and the church’s concern for temporal issues like gay marriage, divorce, sacraments, weddings, confessions, communions, etc. and they wonder “Does God really care about all these little things?” People realize that society and government already take care of these mundane concerns.
The majority of people celebrate religious holidays just as they would Thanksgiving, Labor Day, or Veterans Day – nonchalantly – without substantive thought. Religious holidays – like all other holidays – are a means of taking a break from the daily grind.
Polls also show that people’s greatest concerns involve unnecessary religious and church interference in purely social and political matters. People believe the church should limit itself to dealing with spiritual issues – questions on the nature of the human soul and the rewards of living a life in harmony with nature and society.
The end of mankind’s love affair with religion will come sooner than later if the church doesn’t wake up and learn its lessons fast. In this regard, should the church be run like a good business, focused on its customers and the required deliverables? Why not?