Transforming Fear to Joy

Religious Decline Amidst a Spiritual Renaissance

Over the past two decades of my life, I witnessed myself along with some friends and family become increasingly disinterested in religion while simultaneously seeking a sense of belonging within a meaningful community. In my case, what emerged is a spiritual community bonded together by the common ground of self-awareness and self-transformation.  These driving D-I-Y interests eventually led me to meditation and yoga.

This trend away from traditional Christian religions — Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical — is reflected across North America regardless of gender, age, race or ethnicity.  Canadian religiosity as measured by church-going is on the decline, so says Joel Thiessen in his 2015 book titled, The Meaning of Sunday:  The Practice of Belief in a Secular Age.

[R]eligious Nones — those who say they have no religion — is the fastest growing
“religious” group in Canada. They represent 24% of Canadian adults and 32% of
Canadian teens — and they continue to grow.    
Joel Thiessen

From interviews with non-churchgoers, Thiessen established the following top five reasons why Canadians are not attending church.

  1. Too exclusive. Religious beliefs and practices — keeping women from leadership; non-acceptance of gay people — no longer synchronize with Canadian values of inclusivity and tolerance.
  2. Too transitory. Career mobility and divorce dissuade staying rooted in a church.
  3. Teenage choice. Teenagers, just as Millennials before them, are opting out.
  4. Too busy. If Sunday is your only day off work or to relax, church may not be a priority.
  5. Disillusionment. Church sex-scandals and religious-inspired violence took a toll on attendance.

American researcher John Green echoes similar findings below the Canadian border. Christians are on the decline while Nones’ numbers are growing — 56M US adults consider themselves atheists. The “None” category (atheists, agnostics and “disinteresteds”) won over 41% of gay and lesbian Americans who claim they have no religion.  Steve McSwain writes “Nones” have all but given up on organized religion and now simply regard themselves as spiritual but not religious. As he so succinctly states, current Christian dogma is a crazy theology, more pagan than it is spiritual . . .

the church has sought to survive on a doctrine of salvation that depended on the
shedding of innocent blood to appease an obsessively angry God so as to rescue
humanity from what would otherwise result in their conscious and eternal
torment in hell.

McSwain’s declaration adequately describes my own rationale for exiting the “church” at the ripe old age of ten, but yet still pursuing meaningful community some thirty years later.  If I am an example of this growing spiritual community, I see the human global collective seeking spiritual awareness, enlightenment and community.  The kind of community where there is peace, plenty and equality; where as Gloria Steinem envisions, people are meaningfully “linked not ranked.”  I would venture to say that humans are hard-wired to seek this kind of deep collaboration, which has possibly inadvertently awakened us to our spiritual essence.

As a member of a mostly virtual and sometimes f2f collaborative writing team, our experience taught us that honouring the following operating principles allows this deep collaboration to flourish the human spirit:

  1. equally valuing all human beings
  2. co-creating a shared future involving responsible self-management & meaningful participation
  3. reciprocal & mutually beneficial outcomes for all
  4. wholeness for the individual (passion, purpose and potential) and the collective (people, planet and prosperity)

Do these principles resonate with your sense of community?  If so, in which principle are you gifted? In which principle, do wish for more capacity?

For more on a thriving humanity and spirit, click here and here.

Picture of Author: Helen Maupin

Author: Helen Maupin

Helen is passionate about transforming fear into love — from her, for her, for all. She expresses her commitment to transformation through writing poetry, self-awareness and yoga books, co-designing organizations into adaptive enterprises and deepening her daily meditation and yoga practices.


Recent Posts by Helen Maupin