Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mmmm... Spiritual Club Sandwich....

Wait, no: this article is depressing, not appetizing.

Re: Christianity in Scotland:
Revival might be on the way, but there are good reasons to doubt it. Those who point to a few lively and growing congregations as signs of a better future miss the point that there will always be growth spots amid decay as the dwindling number of Christians huddle together. What matters are the overall totals; outposts of growth make no dent in the 17,000 people lost to the Kirk last year.

When the Kirk has been declining relative to total population for at least 150 years, it is hard to expect next year to be different.

Also, many surveys tell us that adult conversion is rare; if people are not socialised into a faith in childhood, they are very unlikely to acquire one later. We know a lot about family dynamics. When parents belong to the same church, their children have a one-in-two chance of acquiring the faith. When parents are not the same faith (even if both are churchly), the odds on successful transmission are halved again. And the Christian population in many parts of Scotland is getting close to being too small to reproduce itself. Young Christians can either not marry (and, hence, not produce the next generation) or marry out (and, hence, not produce the next generation).
Takeaway point:
People do not accidentally become religious. Being a Christian is not "natural"; it is an acquired characteristic. Like a language, it must be learned and, if it is not used in the home, in everyday conversation and in public life, it dies out. As the population that speaks a minority tongue shrinks, decline does not slow; it becomes faster. There is no natural obstacle to the death of a language. I do not see why the fate of a religion should be different.
(Via Open Book)