Jennifer Fulwiler, of Conversion Diary posted a poll last week, with certain questions about the religious atmosphere in the country where you live. She got more than 100 comments and compiled the results yesterday for her readers. After all, who else is going to categorize the answers and come up with these results, other than the author of the blog?
The results were surprising in some ways and not so surprising in others. I was not surprised to read that people don't feel comfortable mentioning their faith in public and in the majority of countries, it is definitely taboo. What did surprise me was the low numbers of people attending church. In Alsace, France sometimes the Lutheran church has only 3 or 4 members present at a Sunday service; in Germany, the only people at church are over 80 years old; in Luxembourg about 5-10% of the population attend church; in England, somewhere between 2 and 5% attend church; but in east Africa, 80% attend church. In most countries, it seems that the Catholics have the highest numbers of attendees, with some evangelical Protestant churches drawing large numbers in Singapore surprisingly. I also know that the evangelicals are growing in numbers in South America.
On the question of their leaders' faith and expressed beliefs, most respondents said that this is kept private by most leaders, that religious belief, especially holding to principles of anti-abortion and traditional marriage, mean political suicide.
On the question of family size, the majority of respondents said that families with more than 2 children were rare, except in Africa and the Philippines and in predominantly Muslim countries where it is quite normal to see four or more children. Also Israel sees large families amongst the orthodox Jews.
It is not hard to see a pattern here, although it is amazing that many will simply deny it. The countries that have expunged religion from the public square are the very same countries with high divorce rates, high rates of suicide, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, low birth rates, and that pillar of western society - high rates of abortion.
People simply refuse to acknowledge that they need a God who gives them guidelines by which to live; otherwise, we all go astray. The tolerant culture that I supposedly live in is intolerant of religious belief, if that belief should show itself in public. Take out God, take out the Ten Commandments, take away the sacrifice of Christ's life, and we are left to ourselves. (And some poor countries are left with Islam, no better alternative that I can see.)
What always amazes me is those people who believe that man, in himself, is good and that people will choose good over evil, right over wrong, if we only give them the chance and if we believe in them enough. Do those people ever read any history? It simply is not so. This is equivalent to parents claiming that they can have children and then simply leave them to bring themselves up, and they will turn out okay. None of us is naive enough to believe that, and we actually punish parents who do this, we call it "neglect" and "child abuse". What do we call it when an entire nation thinks it can do without God? I can't think of an appropriate name, but it certainly looks hopeless.