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The Power of Easter in an Increasingly Secular America

The number of those who formally affiliate with a religion has been dropping precipitously in the United States, and indeed throughout most Western countries. In the early 1970s, roughly 3 percent of Americans would have claimed no religious identity, but today, that figure has skyrocketed to 26 percent. This problem persists across the spectrum of the mainstream religions, but it is particularly acute within the Christian churches—and worst of all in my own Roman Catholic Church. Recent surveys have indicated that for every person who joins the Catholic Church in America, six are leaving.

There has, of course, been much hand-wringing among ecclesial leaders regarding this state of affairs. Many different explanations—sociological, economic, psychological, cultural—have been proposed. Without denying the legitimacy of those explanations, I humbly suggest that the deepest reason for the decline is a theological one, and that the fault largely belongs to preachers, teachers, catechists and the institutional keepers of the religious flame.

I should like to indicate what I mean through a citation from Peter Maurin, the man who co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Dorothy Day in the 1930s. Maurin said his co-religionists “have taken the dynamite of the Church, have wrapped it up in nice phraseology, placed it in an hermetic container and sat on the lid. It is about time to blow the lid off so the Catholic Church may again become the dominant social dynamic force.”

Read more at Newsweek

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