ROSE NOLEN: America without religion paints a worrying picture for our future

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

As soon as the pope was elected, many younger American Catholics became hopeful that the role of women in the church would be expanded. Those who were older seemed to be convinced that things would remain the same, much as they always had.

As a Protestant, I have always respected and appreciated Catholicism and tried to learn as much about it as I could. One thing I always found unusual was that whenever I went into a new workplace I could always identify the Protestants from the Catholics. It always seemed to me that the Catholics were more educated about their faith. I envied them for that. I don’t share their attitude about women and see no reason why women should not be appointed to the pulpit. I have through the years met many former nuns who have left their orders because of the loneliness.

Furthermore, I don’t see that priests should not be married any more than other clergymen. I would find it very difficult to believe that unmarried clergymen would be any more faithful than married ones. And like most people, I am appalled by the pedophilia that has allegedly gone on in the church. I think that men who have committed such acts should have been exposed by their leaders and turned over to law enforcement. This is the law we live with, and I see no reason why the guilty should not be subjected to it.

In any case, as I see it, whatever our religion, we all fall short of the mark. And certainly, even when we think we are doing our very best, most of the time we are failing at the task. And of course we are all being accused. My friend, whom we called the Wizard of Oz because she was a member of Mensa, a high-IQ group, and knew everything worth knowing, was a Buddhist. She always claimed that every Christian she knew, including me, coveted her soul. Therefore, whenever I visited her, she insisted that I sleep beneath her statue of the Buddha so that I might be enlightened.

I consider it bad news that as a nation we are becoming less Christian. The fastest growing religion in America is Islam. The major mainline Christian religions are all losing members and only the nondenominational evangelical religions are gaining members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Assembly of God churches are growing. And fewer than one in four people claim membership in the Catholic church.

So, for whatever reasons, church-going in America is experiencing a great decline. Yet it seems to me there are more churches than ever, and it seems most pastors want their own church and would not be content sharing church space with others. As I look around at communities, it seems the loss in attendees would encourage more churches into sharing their buildings. But the real question, as far as I’m concerned, would be are we becoming better people?

When I was growing up, everyone I knew went to Sunday school and church. People went to church as families. They attended the same church as their grandmothers and grandfathers. It seemed to me that families were closer then.

Is religion dying? I hope not. There, you see, I said "hope." Where would I be without it?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact Opinion Editor Elizabeth Conner.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Ellis Smith March 19, 2013 | 4:10 p.m.

Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

The stricture about priests marrying and having children applies only to the Roman Catholic church; Greek/Eastern Orthodox Catholic priests may marry. While considerably smaller in numbers than Roman Catholics, we have a viable number of Greek/Eastern Catholics here in the United States. They tend to be found in large cities.

Approximately 10% of Egyptian citizens are Coptic Christians. This is an old Christian religion. My understanding is that their priests also may also marry.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 19, 2013 | 8:59 p.m.

"There, you see, I said "hope." Where would I be without it?"

Writing this column?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 20, 2013 | 1:50 a.m.

BTW, to anyone who might read this, should you ever receive an invitation to a Greek Orthodox Catholic wedding, GO! Their wedding mass is very impressive.

The bride and groom stand facing the priest, same as other weddings, but each of the three persons wears a small CROWN on his/her head. The three crowns are joined together with ribbons, so that there is a ribbon between the bride and groom and one between each person and the priest.

German Lutherans don't go in for that pomp*, and the ceremony was spoken in Greek, but the symbolism seems obvious: the couple is being joined together in marriage by the church (priest), AND what does a threesome in Christianity stand for? The Holy Trinity.

When they had my uncle's funeral in 1986, my aunt asked for a full Orthodox ceremony. There was much marching of the priest around the coffin, and a lot of incense was burned.

*-I can just see Martin Luther glowering at all that "ostentation." Mein Gott! :)

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.