Sunday, January 2, 2011

Catholicism Exit Interview

The Friendly Atheist links to an article about taking a marketing research approach to plummeting attendance at mass. Seven "starter questions" are outlined in the article. Here are my answers.

Why have you stopped attending Sunday Mass regularly?
When I stopped going to the Catholic Church I was a teenager - it would have been around 1989 I guess. It's difficult to recall the specific chain of events and thoughts. But generally speaking, I would say that the attitude towards women in the church, the colossally silly ban on birth control, and the whole top-down, "you need this old guy to talk to God for you" structure drove me to explore other options.

More importantly though, apprehending the mere possibility of questioning church teachings led me eventually to atheism. Like many people, I just kind of assumed what I taught was The Way Things Are, and that other religions were different and wrong. Once I opened the door to scrutinizing church teaching, a giant vista of skepticism opened up, and I couldn't go back to complacent belief - in anything.

Are there any changes your parish might make that would prompt you to return?
Sure - just drop all supernatural dogma, apologize extravagantly for the abuse scandals, give all conspicuous riches to worthy causes, and start functioning as a social support group much like Ethical Culture. Can you get right on that please?

Are there any doctrinal issues that trouble you?

Yes. Everything.

Does your pastor or anyone on the parish staff know you by name?

No, but they might once I get off my duff and send that letter of defection!

Are you in a mixed-religion marriage?

Yes. I'm an agnostic, atheist, secular Buddhist, non-practicing naturalistic pantheist. He's an apatheist/post-theist.

Do your children go to church?

Not yet. I'm too lazy to take them to the UU congregation. If they get invitations to visit friends' churches, once they are old enough to comprehend instead of simply absorbing, they will be allowed to go.

Did you ever really consider yourself to be a member of a parish community?

I guess. My hometown had both kinds of people: Irish Catholics and Italian Catholics. Again, Catholicism was just what you did, like going to school or shopping at the grocery store. I remember going to youth group activities and confirmation class. But weirdly Catholicism was so pervasive, it became like wallpaper. And as I said, once I realized that it wasn't a given of the universe, it evaporated quite quickly for me.

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