According to a 2008 survey conducted by Trinity College (http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org), 15% of Americans are reporting “no religion” in their lives. This number represents an increase from 8.2 % in 1990 and 14.2% in 2001, the 2 other years in which this survey was conducted. While it was originally thought that the 2001 results were an anomaly, this number has now been validated. It is also important to point out that 54,461 adults were surveyed, which is hardly a small number.
These statistics should not come as a surprise to anyone. In order to avoid conflict with the hedonistic lifestyle glorified by the media, many people choose to define their own religious beliefs. By doing so, one can justify almost any behavior. In a sense, they become their own gods…determining for themselves what is good and evil.
While some people claim to be atheists, other individuals profess belief in a vague, wishy-washy supreme being who doesn’t require belief in rules or regulations. Similar to the atheists who don’t believe in God, these folks only adhere to their own moral standards. If you’re making up the moral guidelines for your life, it’s usually very easy to follow them! I’ve heard many people say that they are spiritual, but don’t follow any particular religion. That translates to, “I do what I want!”
So what can we do about this situation? First of all, we can pray. There are millions of people in the world who are spiritually lost. They sleep-walk through the week and live for the weekends. For consolation they turn to television, alcohol, food, sports, pornography and any number of indulgences which bring pleasure. They live empty lives totally devoid of any meaning except self-gratification. These people desperately need our prayers so that they may discover God.
Secondly, we can set a good example by living moral lives. We can also be cheerful and positive even when it’s difficult. By doing this we may open the door to the third option, evangelization. As Catholic Christians, we have the fullness of God’s truth and are expected to share it with others. Just as Jesus commanded His Apostles to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20) , we must also spread the message to everyone we meet. If we have any fear or doubt, we can console ourselves with The Lord’s promise after this “Great Commission”:
“…And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”