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Category: Faith, Religion & Spirituality / Topics: Diversity & Pluralism Government Religion Social Issues Spirituality, Seeking God Trends

New Type of Worship Center

by Dan Seagren

Posted: May 15, 2021

Was the communist goal of secularizing East Germany successful after all and is the U.S. headed the same way?…

Model of House of One -

Religious unity or Church of Nothing?

Let's say that there are two forms of new worship centers: one kind would be religious, perhaps Jewish, Christian (Catholic and Protestant) or Muslim, representing the adherents of particular faith traditions; the other would in fact be a cultural center—a secular, not religious (sacred) building.

Consider a new Berlin meeting place offiically known as the House of One, but described by Joseph D'Hippolito of the Wall Street Journal as the New Church of Nothing representing an ultimate secular view of religion. It also reflects, according to D'Hippolito, the kind of cultural future the American left envisions for the U.S.

The House of One is built on the foundation of a demolished church allowing Christians, Jews and Muslims each to have a sanctuary surrounding a central hall where the public can gather. This New Church building is a boxy, modernistic and sterile architectural style, "trying to incorporate features from all three faiths, the building reflects noen of them." Its "divinities" are not Allah, Yahweh and Jesus but Diversity, Inclusion and Multiculturalism.

Could New Worship Centers emerge in the U.S as easily as in Germany? Probably not because East Berlin was occupied by Communism for 45 years, showing that "maybe the communist goal of secularizing East Germany was successful after all." Whereas, suggests D'Hippolito, the U.S. has been influenced by the left's "hypersensitive tyranny, embodied by culture and hostility toward conservative religious ethics replacing transcendent values with political ones."

America's changing religious landscape

Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019; 65% of American adults described themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. People who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular (nones),” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009. Gallup began tracking religious membership back in 1937 and it was 73% of the public but today only 43%.

Religious nones are growing faster among Democrats than Republican though their ranks are swelling in both partisan coalitions. And although the religiously unaffiliated nones are on the rise among younger people and most groups of older adults, their growth is most pronounced among young adults. If these trends continue and religion continues to stumble and social science increases, could an alternative to religion (e.g. Christianity) arise locally either as a replacement of sorts or something entirely secular like the New Worship Center in East Berlin? There are some new U.S. Worship Centers but most are Christian, religious, not secular with specialized characteristics.

We should be on the lookout if this decline is not reversed and what must and must not be done. Converting to an ultimate secular view of religion is a no no! What must be done is to recognize the growing distrust of institutions in general, rein in covered up sex scandles, recognize the modern inclination not to be pigeonholed into any single theological tradition, end driving away missing congregants, encourage more love your neighbor attitudes, remember that seekers don't easily stop seeking and so on...

These are only starters among other internal and external reasons why the numbers are not increasing. Must we citizens discontinue secularizing religion and prioritize its divine nature or it will shrink even more. True or False?

For more on "the rise of the nones" and other trends see Stu Johnson's report on Religion in America.

Search all articles by Dan Seagren

Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: May 15, 2021

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