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Sad Decline of Christianity in Census: A Call to Unconditional Love

by ervte

I read the front page headline of The Age on June 28, and my heart sank. “Losing our religion as Christianity plummets,” it announced. Oh no, I thought. We’re losing ground again, and bad. Yes, I prefer to be in the circle of the winner. While I should be used to losing by now, as teenagers years ago, after watching my many gambling campaigns, my kids would ask, “Dad, is there a campaign you’ve supported that has ever won?”

But this headline was extremely bad for my tribe and the cohesion of a nation built on the Judeo-Christian foundation. The results of the 2021 ABS census showed that only 44 percent of Australians now identify as Christians, down from 52 percent five years earlier and 61 percent in 2011. For convenience, I immediately grabbed the new book Not in it by megachurch Pastor Andy Stanley. to win it: why choosing a side puts the church offside.

… even if Australians disapprove of my faith, which deeply disappoints me, they must be respected and loved unconditionally.Sad Decline of Christianity in Census

Andy asks the American Church: Is it possible to disagree politically and love unconditionally? He is especially critical of using biblical and faith claims in a relentless drive to win. Think of the US Supreme Court appointments and political power under Trump.

I found his assertion that we’re not in it for personal gain soothing and a reminder of my motivations. This a reminder that even if Australians abandon my faith – which deeply disappoints me – they must be respected and loved unconditionally.

Another astonishing figure in this Census is the increase in ‘no religion’ since the last Census – from 30 percent of the population to nearly 40 percent of all Australians.

What does ‘no religion’ mean to people? Humanists Australia’s social media campaign advocates ‘no reladvocates e Census couldCensCensun the eyes of C,hristians as a fitting slapr their perceived political and cultural dominance. Is this the sting from the Royal Commission, which has exposed such an atrocity of child abuse in many churches? Or is this the connotation of the word ‘religious’ as many today see themselves as spiritual but certainly not religious? I must remind myself that ‘no religion does not mean ‘no faith’ or ‘no meaning’.

The night before this census news, we had neighbors our age for a drink. The man is secular through and through and rolls his eyes when his wife talks about her belief in ‘grounding’. She has put dirt mats under the sheets and all over the house, which her husband complains about tripping him over. She told us that this had changed her health and well-being as she now feels deeply connected to the Earth’s life force. Earthen has given her meaning, and she is eager to testify of its benefits and even convert us. Meanwhile, her husband said, “I’m just breathing air. I don’t need a crutch or spiritual faith to keep me going.”

I am sure that the increase in belief in karma in astrology will be true for many in the ‘no religion’ cohort. And “no religion” probably includes pantheistic worldviews among some immersed in the green movement that mobilizes our young people. I can live in dialogue with that. Caring for creation can provide biblical foundations for a God who is above nature and commands us to tend the garden.

What I fear more is the secular disrespect that feels triumphalistic at the loss of religion. The Humanists Australia campaign smacked of that.

Many secularists fail to see that multiculturalism cannot be sustained without a deep respect for the religions that shape cultures and provide meaning and community—Hinduism Hinduism hasp been 55 increased by percent since the last Census, fueled by Indian migration. A patronizing secular worldview makes as little sense to Hindus as it does to devoted Christians.

Albert Camus and Frederich Nietzsche did not believe that God was an option. Still, at least they understood that rejecting God was not a simple fact, as many secularists seem to think, even to the extent of rejoicing at the demise of religion.

Camus spoke of a universe of absurdity and nothingness and accepted living in such a universe with his refusal to hope and “the unyielding evidence of a life without comfort.” He sought an answer to the question, ‘why should I not kill myself if the universe is absurd?

We are all fragile people trying to make ends meet and give meaning to our beliefs, and that is the way to hope, sanity, and solidarity for the common good.

I must witness God as a relational truth that gives me purpose.

Faith means that I am held in the arms of a Being as love, and I am here because I am told to be. I have been given life, and its purpose is to bless others. I will love unconditionally those who see no sense in my faith. I will testify to the meaning I have found in knowing that God is love while respectfully making room for the beliefs of others or not. And I don’t have to win, but I do have to witness to God as a relational truth that gives me purpose.

On the other hand, I feel sad about the demise of Time Sian and will miss it. I enjoyed reporting current events like the Census because it was unique and different from any newscast. I found it invaluable for Christians to reflect on our faith and to work with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

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