Why Are They Leaving Religion?
IN THE mid-19th century, it was virtually unheard of for a resident of Prussia (now northern Germany) to say that he belonged to no particular religion. In fact, simply converting from a mainstream religion to a nonconformist church could make him subject to police surveillance. How times have changed!
Today, a record number of Germans are resigning from the churches. Reportedly, 1 in 4 claims to belong to no religion at all. A similar trend is seen in Austria and Switzerland. If membership is the lifeblood of a religion, then, as German writer Reimer Gronemeyer put it, “Europe’s churches are bleeding to death.”
Why They Reject Religion
Why do many reject organized religion? Often, for financial reasons, especially in lands where members are required to pay a church tax. Many ask, ‘Why should my hard-earned money go to the church?’ Some are put off by the church’s enormous wealth and power. They likely agree with Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, Germany, who said that the church’s wealth may have led it to give too much attention to material things and “not to take faith in Christ seriously enough.”
A number are leaving their church because they find it dry, uninteresting, unable to satisfy their spiritual hunger. They suffer from the famine foretold by the prophet Amos, “a famine, not for bread, and a thirst, not for water, but for hearing the words of Jehovah.” (Amos 8:11) Because they receive little sustenance from their religion, they give up on it.
While the problems encountered are genuine, is it the right response to give up on all religion? Imagine a hungry man who sees what looks like a loaf of bread. When he tries to eat it, however, he finds that it is made of sawdust. Would he give up on the idea of eating and satisfying his hunger? No, he would look for some real food. Similarly, if a religion does not satisfy the spiritual hunger of its members, should they give up on religion? Or would they be wiser to look for a way to have their spiritual hunger satisfied? That is what many have done, as the following article shows.