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Everyday Irreligion

Everyday Irreligion

In America at the moment there is a rising atheist movement engaged in a titanic struggle with religion. Around the rest of the western world we have another way – apathy.

I don’t actually know what religion any of my friends are. I have a friend who says religion is a load of rubbish but his kids go to a Lutheran school. Not because he’s a Lutheran of course, but because it’s a good school.

I have another friend who works for a Catholic school, so I know he probably has to be nominally Catholic, but does he actually believe? I don’t know because the topic just doesn’t come up. If he believes, good on him. If he doesn’t also good on him. It simply isn’t important to either of us what the other believes.

And that to me is everyday irreligion. A complete indifference to the observance of a particular faith. You may talk with a friend some time and go, what religion are you, and he might go “Anglican”, to which you might respond, “oh yeah I was born Catholic, but I’m not religious. I never go to church.”

And here’s the thing. We are the generation who say that. Because everyone was by default in one group or other in those days. But the next generation coming through – our children, are the ones who don’t even have the connection to being born into a group. Never raised with church in their life.

This is happening now because there is no place in life for the old religions. Well they have a place. Weddings and funerals are the only times the church intersects with our live these days. That is its niche.

Of course there are older people who attend services because it’s something they have always done, but there aren’t that many new recruits. Some people may see that as a tragedy, but I see it as just the way it is. Everyone is free to embrace religion, whatever religion they choose. And that includes the freedom not choose no religion (or effectively no religion if there is no religious observance).

This is the first time in centuries where the choice of being in one camp or the other when it came to religion has shifted from being a societal norm to being optional. And people are simply choosing not to take up that option.

And that is how religion will die. Not from the atheists, stridently proclaiming there is no god, but by demographics and apathy. Where you find yourself in a church a handful of times in your life but don’t actually have any ties to the churches you attend.

We have atheist movements in Australia and Europe, for those who feel passionate about this stuff, but they are not really necessary to spreading the lack of faith. In much of the western world, religion has simply fallen into disuse.

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