In late August, the Pew Research Center issued yet another sobering report on the state of faith in America. The latest survey revealed some statistics that should make all faithful Catholics and other Christians, along with our religious leaders, take notice and also ask ourselves some tough questions starting with: “Where did we go wrong?” Nearly half of Americans have not only left their church but also say they simply don’t believe in God anymore.
“About half of current religious ‘nones’ who were raised in a religion (49 percent) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention ‘science’ as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said, ‘I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.’ Others reference ‘common sense,’ ‘logic’ or a ‘lack of evidence’ — or simply say they do not believe in God,” the Pew report stated.
The “nones” are those who say they have either no religious affiliation or no longer believe in God. Sometimes they can fall into both categories.
I’m not quite sure how a scientist can look at the immense detail of creation and think that it is all happenstance. Even in my days as a nominal Catholic, I still believed in God and still realized that the incredible beauty in the world and the vastness of the universe couldn’t have, all of a sudden, just happened to fall into place perfectly. Somebody out there or up there had to be in charge of it all. Somehow these folks in the “nones” category didn’t get or accept the God memo. But what happened and why? Again, where did we go wrong?
The Catholic Church exists to evangelize, and the Faith teaches us that each member — from the top on down
— is called to be a part of its evangelization mission by virtue of our baptism.
Our Catholic faith teaches us that only God knows what’s on the heart and he alone will be the judge of a person’s soul. We also know that we are all responsible for our own salvation. God gives each of us free will to choose to accept him or reject him. It might be easier to just leave it there. The good Lord will figure it all out in the end anyway, so let’s just pray for “nones” and move on. But that would be denying who we are as a Church. The Catholic Church exists to evangelize, and the faith teaches us that each member — from the top on down — is called to be a part of its evangelization mission by virtue of our baptism.
We ignore the “nones” at our own peril. As difficult as it might be to ask the tough questions, they do need to be raised. No doubt there are probably folks in the “nones” who attended good parishes but just decided that the teachings of the Church weren’t for them. It’s also probably very likely that there are many of the “nones” who were taught more about religion than a relationship with Christ. A large percentage were most likely sacramentalized but not evangelized.
Most of us probably know several people in our own circle of family and friends who fit that description, maybe even ourselves. It’s up to each of us to take at least some of the responsibility for the many fallen-away Catholics and help reduce, with the Lord’s help, that large number of “nones” down to zip, zero, nothing.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.