Both a Nativity and a ‘Snaketivity’ are going up on the State Capitol, Thursday. The Satanic Temple of Detroit is putting up its controversial display on the same day that Rick Jones, of Grand Ledge, will put up his Nativity. This is the third year in a row the dueling displays have been put up. Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are back, and we are talking about the ‘Pastafarians’ with colanders on their heads. They protested the Nativity and the Snaketivity last year, and will be back at it again this year.
The State that is being referred to is Michigan, and the State Capital is the City of Lansing. As the news story comments, this is the third year in a row that the Satanic Temple has put up a Satanic display during the Christmas Season. Last year, the Temple had a grand unveiling of a massive statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed representation of Satan. But, besides simply erecting anti-Christ displays, the Temple is actively involved in anti-pro-life activities. They engage in political theater several times a year at the site of a pro-life demonstration. For instance, one time, a few of their members showed up at a pro-life demonstration wearing BDSM gear, with minimal clothes and giant rubber baby masks over their entire heads.
But, what brought all this to mind was that it was part of a “This is Life with Lisa Ling” episode. She pointed out that the Temple was actually filled with younger people. Part of her analysis was that as churches are seeing fewer people and as young people are going to church less and less, we are seeing many of them going to alternate religions. Or, in the case of the youngsters in the Temple, they are even going so far as changing over to the other side. At the end there was a commercial for an upcoming show. The host travels around various parts of the USA (and maybe the world) participating in alternative religious services to see what he experiences. The commercial showed Santeria and Voodoo for certain. I did not recognize some of the other alternates. His approach seems to be that there is no harm, no foul and no danger in this approach to their program.
The Church is indeed losing members and, in many ways, quietly losing the battle for minds and hearts in the United States of America. I think that there are many reasons that could be pointed out. But, it is like a perfect storm is shaping up, and may already be upon us. I do not have great solutions. If I did, I would gladly share them. It is important to note that, at the same time, the number of burn-out pastors is also increasing. Statistics show that the number of pastors who never make it to retirement but instead leave the pastorate is increasing. The same people who want churches to grow apparently are experienced by pastors as those who are most willing to mistreat, underpay, and over-expect from them. I can verify that too many churches try to put the onus for growth fully and completely on the pastor. This means that the pastor is made the guilty party, and all the disappointment that members feel is taken out on the pastor.
Finally, unless the Lord shows us our sin and shows us how to communicate the faith successfully to our children, we may see the neutralization of the Church in America. This Christmas may God have mercy on us, show us our sin clearly, and help us to reform ourselves.