What They Are Saying About Their Churches
THE confusion in the religions of Christendom is very much in the news. No doubt you are aware of the dissension that is riddling the churches. Priests sharply criticize their superiors. Church teachings and age-old ecclesiastical policies are openly questioned. Every month scores of clergymen, both high and low, and many nuns quit their church positions. Seminaries report that applicants are getting fewer.
The toll that this turmoil has taken on church influence has been enormous. In many places church attendance is dropping steadily. Financial support has sharply decreased. Many churches and church-run schools and colleges have had to close their doors.
This religious situation has deeply disturbed churchgoers. Many Roman Catholics, especially, view what is happening in their church with consternation. And people are talking about it. What are they saying?
Confused by the Changes
Jehovah’s witnesses can answer that question because they regularly call on people at their homes to encourage Bible study. This puts them in an excellent position to hear what people are saying about the churches. What the Witnesses report shows just how disturbed many people are about the developments.
For example, in Newfoundland Catholics freely express their views on the changes taking place in their church. Some have said: “We are so confused over the changes in the church we hardly know what to believe anymore!”
In New York, a Catholic doctor, upon meeting a Witness who is one of his patients, immediately began talking about his deep concern over the changes in his church. His priest had told the congregation that communion would no longer be served at the altar, and that the members of the church must bring their own bread and wine to church for communion. The doctor’s children go to parochial school. But the nuns had informed the parents that religious instruction of younger children would have to be given at home by the parents until the children were old enough to receive communion. The doctor asked: “How am I going to teach my children religion at home when I do not know anything about my own religion?”
A Spanish Catholic in New York city said pitifully, “I’m so confused with my religion, but I’m too old to start learning again. What am I going to do?” When the Witness kindly offered to help this sincere one learn what the Bible teaches, the offer was accepted and a free home Bible study was started.
Opinions as to the Reason Why
In talking with the people in their homes Jehovah’s witnesses report that many give their opinions as to the reason for the troubles in the churches.
A couple who attend the Evangelical church said: “The reason for so much confusion in our church is that each one wants to interpret the Bible in his own way.”
Explaining why she felt there was much confusion in her religion, a Jewish woman in New York said: “We are not humble enough!”
An elderly Catholic man acknowledged that he was very unhappy about the changes in the church. ‘It shows that there are weaknesses in the church,’ he said. ‘To me the church is dead.’
“I think a lot of confusion is due to this pope we have now,” declared a young woman in New York city. “He has taken away so many of the saints and changed everything so that I just don’t know what to believe anymore. Do you know, I have to go to a psychiatrist every week because I am so mixed up? I have been looking into other religions because I feel there must be an answer to all this.”
Their Reactions to Religious Developments
It is interesting to note how varied the reactions to recent developments in the field of religion are. Jehovah’s witnesses are finding that many people who formerly shied away from discussion of religion and the Bible now are willing to express their views.
An elderly Italian man was asked about the eating of meat on Friday. He replied: “I don’t care what the pope says. I’m sticking to the way it was.”
Another attitude was observed by a Witness who knocked at a door in the Bronx, New York. A man in his sixties opened the door and the Witness could not help but observe the Catholic holy water cup on his wall. Evidently it was being put to a new use. It was filled with cigarette butts.
Confessed a Spanish Catholic: “I think I may take down my images, because I know I don’t have the truth.” And another woman remarked, “I’m Catholic but I will never attend church again!” Why? ‘The church is too mixed up in politics.’
In one area most of the people visited by the Witnesses said that they could not care less about religion. Shocking as it may sound to some, they said they are anxious to see the churches come to their end.
Repulsed by Money-raising Methods
Probably the most frequent complaint against the churches is in connection with their insatiable quest for money. Many persons are sick and tired of it.
A Lutheran woman admitted that religion is just a big business. An elderly Episcopalian complained: “In my church there is just too much emphasis on money. I told my priest that instead of the name of the church being posted in front, there should be a big sign saying M-O-N-E-Y!”
A housewife pointed to a church calendar and explained that she was getting things like that every month and that she was expected to contribute for them. She added: “I belong to the buck of the month club!”
In disgust a Spanish woman said that her church is so commercialized that when they enter it they have to pay twenty-five cents besides bringing the weekly contribution envelope. And how much must they contribute? They used to be able to give one or two dollars, but now the envelope specifies that they start at two dollars.
A woman from Puerto Rico moved to the United States recently. She quickly began attending church. When she got there she found a bingo game in progress. On her next visit the priest, in addition to telling the congregation to vote for a certain political candidate, requested money for the church. Next there was an announcement about a party to be held in the church basement to raise still more money. Out of loyalty, the woman went to the party but with a heavy heart. She left before it was over. She no longer attends church. Now she and her husband take advantage of the help offered them by Jehovah’s witnesses to learn the truth found in the Holy Bible.
That same free home Bible study service is available to you. It will enable you to get satisfying answers to such questions as: Where are the dead? Why has God permitted wickedness until our day? What hope is there for the future? If you would like to avail yourself of this free service, get in touch with Jehovah’s witnesses in your community or write to the publishers of this magazine.