Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why kids leave church...

I love this. I was talking attrition in Brazilian jiu jitsu with a black belt friend the other day (it's estimated around 90% at the lowest level alone) and the conversation turned the way it normally does...two people who haven't quit guessing about the motivations of those who have. Our community does it a lot, but I think churches do it more. That's when I saw this post this morning, I was elated. Someone did the leg work of talking to kids who'd been raised in the church and left. Check out the complete article here, but here is the summarized list.

10. The Church is "Relevant." (too relevant apparently)
9. They never attended church to begin with.
8. They get smart.(groups outside the church treated them as intelligent beings)
7. They were sent out unarmed
6. Faith was represented to them as little more than feelings
5. Kids experience faith as something they "do" and that do "can be found places other than the church"
4. They found better feelings elsewhere
3. They got tired of pretending to be happy
2. Their diet of Law has condemned them
1. Church is presented as a place to learn life principles and "you don't need a crucified Jesus for that"

I'm not Evangelical (though I do attend an Evangelical church), but seeing anyone ask these real questions of the people who know...I find it heartening, especially the comment section.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Christians attacking Christians

Warning...Free flow post ahead...

I need a new title as a Christian...and I mean that. I no longer want to be associated with the cultural norm of Christianity in America. The religion has been co-opted by people who operate on principles that I not only despise, but that I believe are un-Biblical and inherently contradictory. First it was complaints about Easter not being widely recognized know...the way the way Christmas if they want to start the fight to put Christ back in Easter too. Now, there's an uproar at my alma mater.

Let me start this off by saying that I have little nice to say about FAU's professors. I met some great ones, yes, but when it came to dealing with even non-tenured faculty and some of their ridiculous behavior, it left a horrible taste in my mouth. So...

A couple of weeks ago, a story was reported about a professor telling his students to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and stomp on it. It was said that the student refused and was suspended. The professor then started receiving threats to his safety from groups, both religious and political.

I understand there is a bias against higher education among Conservatives in this country, but just on the surface, this story was suspect and I don't get the knee jerk reaction...students aren't suspended for not participating in exercises. They just aren't. Failed? Yes, but not suspended. I listened (and watched) people rail against liberal bias in education. I've heard it since my days in a Southern Baptist school...public schools will teach you nothing but evolution in science class and make you hate Jesus in English and History.

...and then I went to a public high school...and a public university. We covered evolution...maybe three times in those eight years. The rest was that huge chunk of science that has nothing to do with our origins. I went to See you at the Pole, sang spirituals in chorus and in college, got credit for a six week study of the book of James run by a minister that included prayer. Jesus was never referred to as "just a great man". Perhaps I would have heard more if my studies were less scientific and more based on the humanities...perhaps. Right or wrong though, I've learned to question the cries of victimization of the American church and their demonetization of an educational system that they once so beautifully participated in and were fundamental in creating.

So today, more information was released about the professor. Turns out he's Christian...not just I-used-to-go-to-church-as-a-kid Christian, but he openly claims Jesus as his "lord and savior". Turns out the exercise was to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and then step (not stomp) on it. Why? The exercise assumes that the students will hesitate and then discussion begins about the meaning of words. I am sure, that if a pastor asked their congregation to do the same, there would be no complaints. I can see Ravi Zacharias, who constantly speaks on the importance of words having meaning, using just such an illustration and Christians marveling at his wisdom...precisely because the foundation of the exercise is the widely perceived importance of Jesus.

The embattled student? Well, he refused, as was his right. He then confronted the professor after class, punching his fist into his opposite hand, and telling the professor that he wanted to hit him. He was suspended for physically threatening he should have been.

I know, very well, that there are powerful swaths of movement in the US to push God and Jesus out of our lives. I know probably better than most who identify as Christian because I spend so much time in circles with bents toward the academic and the intellectual and the foreign...but I will tell you that an atheist comparing God to Santa Claus isn't one tenth as painful or offensive as a Christian who has forgotten his principles for the sake of retaliation. (John 18 and the story of Peter and Malchus has some application here) I will tell you that the lack of peace that so many Christians flaunt is hammering that last nail into the coffin of the American church. Ask people why they don't go to church or why they stopped and I know, from personal experience, that the reason isn't evolution or education or porn. It's us.

I watched comments on the situation at FAU and of course I saw it. I always see it so I knew it was coming...the three or four individuals who were observing the Christians. The three or four who asked, quite calmly, why those claiming to be Christian were the worst behaved in the conversation. Not the caricatures of the bitter, rude atheist or the mocking agnostic. These were people who were just observing. Maybe they had already made up their minds and hearts about Christianity, but I know that not everyone reading those conversations were.

I very firmly believe Christians, in our unwillingness to call out the bad behavior of those we worship with, are the central reason Christianity is becoming less and less relevant in this country. All these issues that we see as the "cause" of God's removing his blessings from us? I believe that they ares symptoms of a country of Christians digging in to its own pride and superiority generations ago, and unrepentantly wallowing in them today.