One of the greatest contributions that the United States gave to the world was and is religious freedom. In 2020, that freedom was taken away from all religions in the United States. We’ve not yet come to terms with this awful reality and what it means for the future of faith.
The lockdowns were a major blow to religious institutions and practice. Every major survey shows that attendance at weekly religious services is down from pre-lockdown times.
“The share of all U.S. adults who say they typically attend religious services at least once a month is down modestly but measurably (by 3 percentage points, from 33 percent to 30 percent) over that span,” Pew writes. “And one-in-five Americans say they now attend in person less often than they did before the pandemic.”
I’ve had this confirmed by many friends who report that the religious houses of their choice seem to show far less participation. This very likely translates to a decline in financial support, too. Once people got out of the habit of participating in a physical church, the ritual was broken, and now we see the spreading of indifference. This surely isn’t a good sign.
But that picture is complicated by a strange feature: The religious congregations that resisted COVID-19 controls and shutdowns have likely earned trust and loyalty from their members. Indeed, this weekend I happened to attend the debut of a new opera where attendance was dominated by what are called “traditionalist” Catholics. Talking with people after, I was thrilled to learn just how many of their congregations never closed down.
A priest friend of mine in the Midwest tells the story of Easter 2020, when most every church in the country was closed. That’s an outrage, by the way. It’s a devastating commentary on the Catholic bishops that they uttered no protest against this. It’s a black mark against an entire generation of church leadership.
My priest friend, however, stood up to his own bishop and said he would sooner resign his post as pastor than lock his own parishioners out of church on Holy Week.
“You are bluffing,” the bishop said.
“Try me,” the priest answered.
Continue reading at the Epoch Times