The Good Old (Religious?) Days?

The person giving the sermon this morning referred to a statistic that said that 25 percent of people in their 20’s and 30’s lack a religious affiliation.  She wondered how children would learn about the faith if that is the case.

The number would probably sound really high to people who look back at the good old days when America was supposedly a Christian nation—-when the vast majority of people went to church.  I often hear this sort of sentiment in my Bible study group, as people say that things were so good and peaceful in the past, and that things really went downhill after religion was taken out of the public schools.  I usually don’t say anything because, even if I disagree with their sociological analysis, who am I to question their experience?  They grew up in a time when many people went to church, and things were a lot more peaceful back then.  Crime was not as high, for example.  That’s how they remember their younger years.

Was there ever truly a time, though, when the vast majority of Americans went to church?  I one time interviewed people for a class project on the Great Depression.  An elderly lady was saying that, when she was growing up, people talked about the Lord all the time, and things were so much better.  My great-grandmother, however, said the exact opposite: she related to me that there wasn’t a great commitment to religion back then, and that there was actually more commitment to religion now (meaning the 1990’s).

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Church, Religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Good Old (Religious?) Days?

  1. I don’t know how far back you are thinking, but I grew up in the 50s and 60s. I remember clearly the night when John Kennedy was elected president, and I remember clearly when ‘prayer and Bible Reading were taken out of schools’ (not that there is a connection).

    As a fundamentalist at that time, my perceptions might have been warped, but I thought I was almost the only Christian in my school. I remember four students mentioning church in my first (in southern USA from 1957-1966). And I remember them because I was so surprised.

    We did have God and the Bible reading in the school, along with the pledge to the flag, but it seemed more civic than personal. What we did not have was black people. There was almost no discussion about religion, but a LOT of discussion about black people, and I never heard anybody in favor of civil rights or integrating the school.

    Both in school and in society, there was plenty of anti-religious behavior. I simply do not remember any good old days of religion, even though I went to church all the time.

    My opinion is that things seem less peaceful than then, but it is not due to taking God out of school. Instead, I think it is from tremendously increased population density and also because we now hear about every violent thing that happens no matter where in the world it happens.

    In addition, my parents told me a lot about the violence from the southern USA (Bible Belt) world of their childhoods. I doubt that it is worse per capital than it ever was.


  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Tim.


  3. I really like this, it makes me think back to my grandparents and how often the past seems much rosier then it actually was, my grandparents over in France very much preferred the present day to their childhoods. I can’t blame them what with the Great War and everything, they never mentioned religion in their recollections.


  4. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I can’t blame them, either.


Comments are closed.