Comments about ‘Michael Gerson: Rise of religious indifference in U.S. raises a bunch of questions’

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Published: Wednesday, March 27 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

First, who writes your headlines? "Raises a bunch of questions."


Second, the rise of the "Nones" is easily understandable as the natural consequence of living in the Information Age. The more you know about organized religion, the harder it s to justify participating in one.

Information is a powerful disinfectant for the mind. Proclamations made by religious leaders are now examined with the aid of Google, and frequently don't fare well.

What is good about religion is not unique to religion, but what is unique to religion is not good.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

Necessity is the mother of invention. When your in the fox hole you will start talking to God. No one changes any thing about themselves until it's absolutely necessary.

Huntsville, UT

You touched on some of the reasons for the 'nones' it seems.

One of the biggest reasons for the increase is the obvious hypocrisy of the leaders of organized religions who claim to be 'Christian' and then act so un-Christian in their daily lives. Then, they live in fantastic mansions, fly on private jets, own several fancy sports cars, etc. Is that how Christ told his disciples to live?

Then, you have them constantly trying to force their particular set of rules on EVERYBODY else (abortion, gay rights, women's rights, etc.). Sorry, but that isn't the "golden rule", it's tyranny.

And then you have the outright nuts (I don't think I need to go into details or name names).

Religion is a personal, spiritual issue and all these religions are out to make it a public matter. Believe as you will, but realize that others don't always believe as you do and shouldn't be required to do so.

Bountiful, UT

The fact that so many church ministers have falsely predicted the end of the world so many times hasn't helped. Why not just enjoy life and be a good person?

Bountiful, UT

I agree the Information Age is putting a great deal of pressure on organized religion. Many people can go to church and be edified spiritually, and that is a good thing, in and of itself.

But others are prone to examine the details, claims, stories, and assertions of truth, and under the powerful magnifying glass of information, historic claims of churches to be authentic pipelines to the Almighty have taken a beating.

We see it here in Utah with the predominant religion and the most recent proclamation, minor changes providing more explanation about the priesthood ban. Essentially, the explanation about why the ban arose is "we don't know". (This is a far cry from past authoritative statements, even as recently as 1949, when it was declared not a policy, but a direct commandment from God.)

The LDS faith is far from being the only religion under the microscope of widely available information. The Catholic and others have been rocked by innumerable scandals, and the historic treatment of Galileo does not portray religion kindly.

The "Nones" who believe in God have simply fallen back to simpler beliefs that are less fragile.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Education and knowledge are the foes of religion. As knowledge of the world expands and releases the minds of people from the fear of the unknown, the imaginary hope of the religions become unnecessary and irrelevant. It has worked that way since the beginning.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


"....the rise of the "Nones" is easily understandable as the natural consequence of living in the Information Age...."

How true. Religion has lost the power it once had to insulate its members from views that counter its dogmas. After all, religion is not about getting people to think. It's about getting them to believe.


I'm glad Gerson highlighted the interplay between religion becoming a political tool. From the very beginning of this trend I knew it would do much harm to religion and politics as well.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

It's called "Puritianism",
and it is a form of "extremeism".

The same intolerant, uber-conservatives who have trashed the Republican Party by running out anyone who is not lock-step in-line with their precise, narrow-minded view of the world,

use the same intolerant tactics at Church.

If not for my own deep personal Testimony of Mormonism, the "Saints" would cause me to be a "none" as well.

Re-read the article.
It's not so much the doctrine taught in Religion,
but the followers who turn people off to attending a church.

Mahatma Gandhi said it best:
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

American Fork, UT

It's not indifference. It's the bully pulpit, the political interference, and the hypocrisy of religion that are making so called 'nones' out of us. Maybe we're just growing up a bit. The only question is why we it didn't happen sooner.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Blue, 10CC, and Ultra Bob

If “education and knowledge are the foes of religion” why do Christian religions spend so much time, money and effort educating their followers?

The rise of Protestantism and the Restoration movement are both results of more information (via the printing press at first).

The issues with organized religion have much more to do with when it becomes married to government. Otherwise, there are many good things that though they might (in theory) be applied without religion rarely do in its absence (and are therefore unique to it).


The “constantly trying to force their particular set of rules on EVERYBODY else” bit goes both ways and is hardly unique to religion. If a religion is to have a morality other than “do whatever you want”, there will be inevitable conflicts with the larger society.

And religion has no corner on the ”outright nuts”.


I like Newton’s timeline best.

Craig Clark

Oh please. My entire entry into the church was to think and rethink everything. To “ponder” and to have my own spiritual experiences and specifically not to rely on those of others.

Salt Lake City, UT

From our own Deseret news:

'Boy, 15, reprimanded for backing traditional family in school paper' - By Joshua Bolding, Deseret News - 01/27/12

'He (Wegner) also quoted scriptures like Leviticus 20:13: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to DEATH...' – article

Is it any wonder this is happening?

'Confidence in organized religion hit's an all-time low in Gallup poll' – By Jason White – Msnbc – 07/12/12

'Americans' confidence in religious institutions has hit an all-time low, with only 44 percent expressing a "great deal" of confidence in organized religion, according to a new Gallup survey.
This follows a downward trend since the 1970s, when 68 percent of Americans had a high degree of confidence.
Gallup cites two big blows to confidence in organized religion: 1980s scandals involving televangelists like Jim Bakker and the Catholic sex abuse scandal in the 2000s.' - Article

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Twin Lights,

Ever heard of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum" It was the Roman Catholic Church's official list of books that were prohibited reading for Catholics. It included books by scientists, philosophers, and intellectuals including Voltaire and Charles Darwin. It was issued in the 1500s and wasn't abolished until 1966.

In the LDS Church, we quote Joseph Smith's famous dictum, "the glory of God is intelligence." We give eloquent lip service to it but some independent minded LDS writers have faced church disciplinary action for publishing works that critique Church teachings and history.

Everett, 00

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO
Twin Lights,

In the LDS Church, we quote Joseph Smith's famous dictum, "the glory of God is intelligence." We give eloquent lip service to it but some independent minded LDS writers have faced church disciplinary action for publishing works that critique Church teachings and history.

11:16 a.m. March 27, 2013



Try mentioning Global Warming at Church.
The GOP Mormons will publically skin you alive.

Some of the "Brethren" have crossed the political lines dealing with issues such as "evolution", 'abortion", "War", "Women's Rights", and even recently being born "Gay".

It seems the Brethern, being mortal, sometimes struggle with the same fuzzy gray lines in life that political Parties have created into entrenched and vast chasms for political reasons.

FYI - God is not a Republican, or member of any political party for that matter.

Orem, UT

It's interesting to read about "Catholic Agnostics" and "Protestant Agnostics" as a thing of the past. It seems that the movement evolved to the present non-affiliated demographic, since agnostics don't pass a strong tradition down to their kids.

The LDS church, which is locally prominent, is even now seeing the same development, although it is perhaps a generation or two behind the larger denominations. We now have a large underground of disaffected Mormons who maintain their affiliation with the church culturally but have parted ways in terms of belief. I predict that within another generation, the LDS church will also experience a significant rate of attrition.

The remedy isn't to appeal to individuals, but to bring "Church" more fully into the local sphere. All worthwhile religion is overwhelmingly local. The more it is administered from the top down--with standardization and other hallmarks of mass-production kitsch--the less it appeals to a people disillusioned with religion as commodity. What compelling religion doesn't need are distant leaders, business-like infrastructure, and marketing media of kinds. The medium really is the message, and organized religion has become more hype than substance.

There You Go Again
Saint George, UT

"...It is easy to imagine some of the unaffiliated looking at the movement led by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and concluding: "If this is religion, I want no part in it."...".


Judge much?



As Opened Minded Mormon reported to us...

"...Mahatma Gandhi said it best:
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."...".


m.g. scott

The answer to all of this. Seperating the "Wheat from the Tares".

Bountiful, UT

Twin Lights:

It's clear that organized religion has done enormous amounts to further the cause of education. The Catholic Church in the United States alone has established almost 250 colleges and universities, a figure I find extraordinarily impressive. The new Pope is a Jesuit, an order within the Catholic Church widely known for their emphasis on education. Many other churches have the same type of emphasis, and it is impressive, and essential.

However, education sponsored by religious schools and knowledge of church history and doctrine are two different things, and the eruption of knowledge once more tightly held by church authorities, or at the minimum more difficult to find, is now at everyone's finger tips, and it is putting a great deal of pressure on many organized religions.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Agreed reference education. Do you honestly believe that those offering this had no idea it would cause some to think and wonder? In the LDS culture, there is a positive correlation between education and activity.


I happen to defend global warming quite often on these boards. NEVER have I been asked about my politics in any interview. Abortion and homosexuality are considered moral issues, hence the attention. Although I tend to vote Republican, I could not agree more that God is not a member of my (or any) party.

Craig Clark,

Yes. Which is why my specific examples were from the Protestant reformation and the Restoration movement. These would not have taken place without the explosion of information from literacy and printing.

Many of the disciplined critics that I am aware of (and I do not claim to be aware of them all) were pushing an agenda well beyond open analysis of history.

Los Angeles, CA

What's wrong with Sweden? How many people who demonize Sweden have actually been there or know any Swedes? Seems pretty lame to me.

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