THIS WAS IN TODAY'S LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH:
COULD IT EVER HAPPEN IN THE USA??
The Church of England (the C of E) is to signal to members that speaking openly about their faith could do more harm than good when it comes to spreading christianity. Stark research findings suggest that practising christians who talk to friends and colleagues are three times as likely to put them off god as to attract them.
The study commissioned by the church found that 4 in 10 British adults did not think Jesus was a real person who actually lived. 22% stated that Jesus was a "mythical or fictional character".
A third were not aware of anyone they knew being a practising christian.
Non-belivers were asked if a practising christian had ever spoken to them about their faith. Of those who said yes, only 19% said it made them want to know more, compared with 59% who said the opposite. 30% said it left them feeling more negative towards Jesus .
The Church's most senior lay official. William Fittall, said: "It is important to find out what people actually think so that you don't just preach to the choir."
I don't see how this would help them draw in more people, though. I mean, I'm all for a reduction in proselytization, but I don't think it will have the desired effect, for the C of E. I don't think we'll have a whole bunch of non-theists coming out of the wood works, wanting to learn about this "Christianity' thing that they've vaguely heard about but have never experienced.
I can't see it happening on any kind of scale in the US. There are too many varied denominations. The Catholics are the largest single group, but they're only around 24%. They don't really proselytize, but there's so much media coverage of them ... a tiny bit of that media coverage actually being positive.
I think the Catholic church is mostly hanging on by inertia and inflated numbers of people who stopped going but never bothered to sign apostasy papers. If you don't join another denomination and have them change your membership to another denomination, the Catholic church still counts you.
I think the denominations that we hear the most of, here in the US, are evangelical, which means they ... well, evangelize. No way in hell they'd ever stop. They have way too many people that they turn into Christians and get born again ... never mind the fact that those people were generally already Christians of some sort and just became more fired-up and fundamentalist about it. I'm pretty sure they don't mind annoying the hell out of the 95% in an attempt to get the 5% born-again.
Would that this were a general trend.
The sad fact is that England and western Europe are WAY ahead of the US as it comes to religious sensibilities, for the large portion. Worse, we have a knot of fundamentalists, dominionists and other radicalists who aren't much interested in moderation, rationality, or the rights and desires of anyone outside of their own cliques. For them, it's their way or the highway.
And it's up to us to show them that theirs is a false dichotomy.
Speaking of false dichotomies: in an article about a local megachurch's "trip to hell" play, a pastor asked the audience afterwards, "You can make a decision. Do you want to serve God or the devil?"
The comment section is quite spirited, with nontheists well represented: http://mobile.philly.com/beta?wss=/philly/news/new_jersey&id=33...
Non believers although part of a vast majority in the UK are not an organised group, nor do they see any reason to be. The only people who have any interest in atheism in the UK are the theists; atheism has no real grammatical meaning outside of religion; people are labelled atheist they don't claim it.
This harassment by theists, Christian and Muslim, of a population who have no interest in their superstitions, is a pointer to the causes of religious violence.
Beautifully expressed Gerald. Atheists are numerous in Britain but they are all individuals--not organised and therefore power-weak.
However, the situation is that many theists are afraid to say they believe in the man-in-the-sky and in Jesus for fear of (usually silent) mockery . . . and that brings us relief and pleasure after many centuries of the inverse situation.
The world will be better if religions lose their free passes, their unearned respect, in more and more places!
Being preached to about a supposed god certainly increases my ill will toward theism.
I once engaged a street preacher, who apparently didn't know what to make of a confident godless humanist; he ended up praying to Jesus to destroy my life and make me hit bottom, so I'd turn to the "reality" and "glory" of his invisible friend. That certainly increased my good will towards Christianity... NOT!