17 July 2023

Why there are so many “nones.”

A number of my fellow Christians are extremely anxious about the rising number of “nones,” meaning the people who check “none” when surveyed about which religion they practice. They don’t do Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, any of the New Age nor capital-p Pagan stuff; nada. They do no religion. They’re “none.” There are a lot of ’em, they’re growing in numbers and percentages, and my fellow Christians are worried it’s a trend.

It’s actually been going on for a mighty long time. It’s just that, up to the past hundred years or so, it was way easier to be a hypocrite than tell the truth. Way easier to say, “Oh yeah, I’m Christian; I go to St. Herod’s,” even though they hadn’t set foot in that church building since they were baptized as an infant. And they psyche themselves into thinking they’re not lying about this; they kinda like Jesus, and consider him the best moral teacher, and they’re certainly not antichrists. And they were baptized after all. So okay; “Christian” it is.

Likewise people who figured they were Jews ’cause they were circumcised; people who figured they’re Muslim because their parents are Muslim; but none of these people are religious, as demonstrated by the fact they put bacon on everything. Did you know if you wind a strip of crisp bacon in a cinnamon roll before you bake it, it’s twice as awesome? Mmm, bacon. Wait, what was I writing about again?…

Anyway my fellow Christians are agitated ’cause they think they’re losing ground. Some are agitated for political reasons; they love that Christianity holds a supermajority in the United States, and are terrified what might happen if that ever changes. They fear it won’t even be America anymore. I remind them this is all the more reason they need to put laws in place forbidding government-enforced religion… but they’d rather fight a culture war instead of doing good deeds and spreading justice.

And still they wonder why Christianity isn’t growing like they think it should. Well duh; they’re not spreading Christianity. It’s just Christianism, the worldview of people who think they’re Christian but don’t obey Jesus.

Instead of Jesus, crusades.

Culture warriors aren’t growing Christianity. They’ve gone back to the medieval practice of fighting a crusade, a Christianist jihad, meant to spread Christianist political might instead of God’s kingdom… but of course Christianists don’t recognize the difference. The medieval crusaders did it with swords and bows; today’s crusaders do it with political chicanery and government-enforced legalism.

In so doing, they’re not spreading the gospel. Like medieval crusaders, they’re simply alienating everyone who’s not Christian, who look at Bible Belt states and think these culture warriors are just as evil as Al-Qaeda. I’ve heard ’em refer to the culture warriors as “Y’all-Qaeda.” It’s not inaccurate.

Their fruitless behavior, their willingness to lie and defraud in order to win elections, their willingness to eagerly believe obvious lies in order to antagonize their political rivals, have largely convinced pagans these “Christians”—and perhaps all Christians—are evil a--holes who must be stopped before they turn the United States into Iran.

If that’s what Christianity turns you into, stands to reason pagans want no part of it. As is precisely the attitude I see among my pagan coworkers. Some of ’em grew up Christian. But over the past decade, their Christian family members turned into fearful, raving madmen who are obsessed with gay people, with transsexuals using the wrong bathrooms and playing college sports against girls, with ridiculous conspiracy theories about the opposition party, and with undying fealty to a man who may not be the Beast, but is certainly beastly.

These pagans sometimes remember their family members used to be kind, loving Christians. You know, like Jesus instructs us to be! But something changed these family members into raging partisans, and they’re really not sure it’s not the Christianity. After all, the family members claim they’re fighting for Christianity.

Anyway if there was any hope whatsoever of passing the family’s Christianity down, it was killed by these Christians’ utter refusal to love their neighbors and their enemies like Jesus tells us. It was killed by their alienating, graceless, ungodly behavior.

The pagans are entirely aware Jesus expects better of his followers! It’s not like the Sermon on the Mount is impossible to access. It’s not like they never heard what Jesus teaches when their parents dragged ’em to Sunday school as children. They’re fully aware Jesus says one thing, yet their Christianist family members do another. They don’t understand the disconnect at all. They just figure these self-described “Christians” are nothing but hypocrites.

These Christianists certainly make my job harder. I try to share Jesus with pagans, and they’re largely open to Jesus. But I try to invite ’em to church, and while they might like Jesus, they want nothing to do with Christians and our churches. Doesn’t matter how much I might tell them, “But my church isn’t that way,” or demonstrate how I’m not that way. They presume I’m an exception. (Or worse, that I’m faking kindness in order to somehow sucker ’em.) They’ve been burned before. They don’t trust us Christians. Why should they? We try to steal elections from them.

So if you’re wondering why the increase in nones—yep, this’d be why.

How to undo the trend.

Be like Jesus.

What, you thought I had some seven-step plan, or some list of ways to push back against Christianists? Nah. Everything Jesus teaches about pushing back against the world, or about pushing back against Pharisees who promoted their loopholes instead of the Law, applies to Christianists. Be good, help the needy, cure the sick, do good deeds, love everybody, and encourage our fellow Christians to do likewise.

If your church isn’t a safe space where pagans can visit and experience Christ’s love firsthand, make it one. Get the partisans and graceless people out of leadership and the pulpit; their fleshly behavior disqualifies them from being elders anyway. If you can’t do that, leave for a better church.

And when Christianists get evil, or promote principles like nationalism, racism, sexism, warmongering, usury, and injustice—principles which run counter to God’s kingdomcall it out. Don’t let it slide just because you’re in the same political party as they. Giving their evil a free pass because you’re on the same team is partisanship, which is a work of the flesh. Evil is evil, and Christians who apathetically don’t bother to oppose evil, don’t love their neighbors who suffer under this evil.

Yeah, Christianists are gonna object to this behavior: “Which side are you on?” Duh; Jesus’s. Every other side is gonna lose in the end. As they should.