Why do people leave their religions? It’s easy to come up with a number of hypotheses:
- like to sleep in on Sundays
- hard to believe that a “benevolent” god would let FOX cancel “Firefly”
- tastiness of bacon
- wanted to try this “dancing” thing everyone is talking about
- “Thou shalt not kill” cramping social life
- tired of being reincarnated as a bald man
- church services “too preachy”
- to pursue career as abortionist
- difficult to find flattering burqa
And yet the Pew Forum seems to have included almost none of these as options in their Faith in Flux survey, instead providing less useful choices like “Spiritual needs not being met” and “Clergy sexual abuse scandal” and “Moved to a new community” and “Someone they were close to passed away.”
Although none of these choices make much sense, the last probably makes the least sense. Who leaves a religion because someone close to them dies?
I mean, maybe if you’re a Snake Handler, and your husband actually dies as part of the religious services, or if you’re a Scientologist, and your daughter dies as part of an Introspection Rundown, or if you’re a Kinshasan Revivalist, and your brother drowns during his baptism. Then I can sort of understand.
But very few religions promise that they’ll stop you from dying. That would be absurd! The most they typically offer is that you’ll get to spend an eternity after you die in the loving embrace of the invisible sky-man, while your less-pious friends and neighbors are being dunked in a lake of fire and eternally tormented by Asmodeus, Overlord of the Dukes of Hell, whose symbols include a clawed fist gripping a skull and a ruby-tipped rod, and who survived the Reckoning of Hell to become undisputed leader of the Nine Hells. I’m sorry, but if you’d give all that up just because of some “sex abuse scandal,” then you’ve got bigger problems than “spirituality.”