Churches Closing: How Sad, Too Bad


Many of us are aware that church attendance has been decreasing over the years. In fact, according to this article, a survey taken in 2020 found that …

[T]he average congregation size across Christian denominations is less than half what it was in 2000 — down to 65 from 137. It also found that on average, a third of churchgoers are 65 or older, twice that age group’s representation in the general population. These numbers held true for Protestants, Evangelicals and Catholics alike. Only congregations of other faith traditions — including Islam, Baha’i and Judaism — are seeing increases, the survey said.

In fact, a political science professor mentioned in the article believes that … about a third of the country’s 350,000 Christian congregations are “on the brink of extinction.” 

As many of us have heard –and the article confirms– this sharp uptick is due to the number of younger Americans who report no religious affiliation — a group known as the “nones.”

Some have expressed concern over this reduction because it could decrease the number of community services that churches provide, such as food banks, help for troubled teens, addiction treatment, and other programs. Others wonder what will happen to the empty church buildings themselves. Apparently in larger cities, they are being turned into luxury condos or offices, but in poor communities and/or rural areas, they just sit there. Empty.

The article reports that one church in Oklahoma that once drew hundreds has now dwindled down to about 30 people for Sunday services.

(Notice the picture in the article that illustrates the reduced number of worshippers.)

Of course from the viewpoint of some, all this is a good thing. Money contributed by congregants to maintain brick and mortar church buildings, the home and salary of clergy –and in Catholic churches, the garb and various sacramental items of the priesthood– could be far better spent helping the folks that Jesus himself talked about … the disadvantaged, the poor, the needy (all those folks so many of “the faithful” tend to overlook).

While most of us reading this will likely never see the total disappearance of churches, one can’t help but be encouraged that the hold religion has on so many may be slowly, but surely, disappearing.

Or at the very least … loosening its hold.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

45 thoughts on “Churches Closing: How Sad, Too Bad

  1. When a restaurant closes, or a hardware store closes, we usually don’t get upset about that. Our reaction to a Church closing should be similar.

    Sure, the churches provide some social services. But they also feed the culture wars and some of the divisiveness that is damaging our society.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Best hope DeSanitizer does not get hold of these numbers, he will ban all faiths but Evangelicalism. And he’ ll he taking roll call on Sundays to see who doesn’t show up!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The church building in the Catholic parish where I spent eight years in Catholic elementary school hell is now, thanks to lack of attendance, a robotics school. The school itself is still in business, but is affiliated with a local Catholic high school. The old convent was torn down to make room for an expansion of the school building, and I have no idea what the old rectory is used for now. When I was a child, the church, with a seating capacity in the hundreds, was filled for five Sunday services. Now it’s empty on Sundays and, thankfully, the bells are silent so that the neighbors can sleep in both weekend days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I grew up in a small New Hampshire town: on Sundays the Catholic church had three masses, and for that three hours, the main street was nearly impossible to get through, due to the cars and church goers. The original church disappeared years back, and the convent and rectory went too. All that’s left is the recreation hall which was converted to a church a few decades ago…
      And to show you how protective the church is of its priests, one of the last priests there was revealed to have been a child molester: he had been shuffled from town to town, begging to be kept away from kids, anything, and they could easily have kept him on as a priest in the seminary, but not a practicing one: instead they threw him to the wolves, he was defrocked, and abandoned.


  4. Earth to Churchianity- Come back down to earth. Jesus wasn’t impressed with the buildings or numbers. He built his church from the inside out; he left the 99 to find the one.


    • the kindness of the omniscient, omnipotent god. Creating vast numbers of unworthy for future delightful pain and punishment just to find the one sufficiently craven to worship his needy divine self. “Good news”indeed


      • I think the bible documents life’s outrageous emptiness independent of God. Enter Someone who needed no one, Jesus Christ. So I ground my life in and worship him.


        • there are as many people raised in and desperately participating in religion that find it makes their lives much much worse. And it certainly does for the women and children around them. so no, Arnold, your besotted faith is not the universal answer you claim it is. And why would an omni deity make sentient beings who need to worship it…while providing vague and conflicting instructions as to how?


        • we’re talking past each other. I remain appalled by a deity that demands compliance and vaguely defined “rebirth.”. Which your own fello Christians all define differently. But hey, if your “ relationship” with your imaginary friend works for you….Just don’t try and tell me your own p two al Jesus demands we accept Trump as our lord and master.


        • You’re right, we are talking apples and oranges.
          Trump et al dismay me, and if I paid much attention would sicken me.

          And as Nan once told me, our comments are public, read by hundreds. A few may take Jesus Christ up on his offer. He came to heal the sick not the healthy.


  5. Perhaps people are finally learning to ask questions, to think for themselves, to realize that there is no logic in what religion and religious leaders claim. “Cinderella” or “Snow White & the Seven Dwarves” is more believable … and less damaging. I have long said that religion is the basis for most wars and most of the social discord in the world, the reason we cannot learn to simply live and let live.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nah. Religion justifies, explains, amplifies perhaps encourages, such realities. Human beings would be competitive and warlike without religion. And religion can be easily replaced by other things arguable worse? Starvation. Disease. Natural disasters. The Revolution. The tribe or clan. Worse yet, the Great Leader or Big Man.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What I want to know is why, considering the dwindling number of persons affiliated with churches, they continue to wield so much influence politically? Especially evangelicals. Depending on how you define the term, only about 25% of self proclaimed christians in the US are evangelicals but they seem to be wielding political and media influence well beyond their actual numbers. Why is anyone even paying attention to these people?

    Liked by 3 people

      • What hard right politicians are leaving religion for politics? They seem intertwined, the one justifying the other. Non religious rightists are usually all about the greed. But they have their own religion of course. They worship Mammon and its Priesthood of CEOs and “ investors”. There are people who worship Elon Musk.

        Where I do agree with you is too much of the left is undertaking damaging purity policing in favor of the ever expanding Victimhood Olympics. It is VITAL to our new left leaders that drag queens visit kindergartens. That pronouns be enforced at risk of termination. That looters be endlessly forgiven because they are victims. That a State facing massive budget shortfalls spend time focusing on one and only one of many victimized groups in our history be considered for big cash payouts.


  7. There has been more horror, more misery, hypocrisy, and more behind the scenes crap due to religion and churches than was ever thought of by anyone else. Religion is responsible for wars (most of them, actually), child abuse, torture, fraud, on and on and on. My best friend growing up could show you the ruler scars on her 10 year old hands left by a nun in her catholic school because she stuttered. Maybe people are moving into a new mind frame where they think for themselves…

    When my dad died in his sleep, at home, my mother called a priest to give him the last rites. He asked if ‘the body was still warm.” She said no, and he offered to give him the last rites over the phone. Read that sentence slowly. My mother hung up on him.

    I think all of us could fill pages with the abuse and misery religion has handed us, either personally or “I knew someone who…”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Churches have been closing for the last forty years. This is not news. Where I live, old churches have been turned into apartment buildings, offices, retail outlets. A synagogue in North Buffalo that was in danger of being torn down was recently turned into a nightclub/retail space … it was totally remodeled & looks fabulous.

    There was a giant Catholic church on the east side that was turned into a mosque back in the 80s. It’s still a mosque. I remember being shocked when the crosses were removed & crescent moons were put in their places but now I’m glad. It probably would have been torn down & there would have been a vacant lot there for all these years. The Muslims have kept large sections of Buffalo alive for years.

    I really don’t get all these angst & drama about churches closing. If people don’t want to go to church, then churches aren’t necessary.


    • I don’t feel any “angst” or “drama” about the fact churches are closing. I’m just pleased to know the numbers of the religious (overall) are dwindling enough that churches are becoming empty shells.

      As it happens, MANY years ago, I was involved with a Christian group that met in homes. IMO, if you’re going to be “religious,” this is a far better option … for a myriad of reasons.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Whilst I welcome, with open arms, the demise of ‘the church’ I must confess to a certain fascination with the buildings themselves, and they are one of the first places I seek out when travelling. There is a certain grace to be experienced within the cold stone walls of the genuinely monumental structures built by the hands of humans who truly believed that they were touching the almighty somehow. Anything built in the last 200 years or so doesn’t seem capable of emitting the same mysterious dark radiance, and I suspect that’s because those building them knew, in their heart of hearts, that it was all bullshit, but kept on building them anyway.

    Nobody who built those ancient shrines was licensed to drive a car, of course. Anyone building a church nowadays probably shouldn’t be either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh there’s no doubt that the architecture of many older churches is amazing! And in some ways, it’s a shame to tear these building down. But what they stand for is so damaging to so many, it’s difficult to shed any tears. Moreover, I would venture to say most of the churches you’re referencing were built by Catholics, one of the most detrimental religions on earth.

      Liked by 1 person

      • detrimental for sure. But in all fairness also responsible for many of the glories of our cultures? Music, art, architecture, schools, hospitals, charities. As a rabid misotheist, even I have to acknowledge this. Less sympathetic to many of the uniquely American heretical evangelical cults though. A pox on those snake handlers and promoters of utter ignorance and hatred.


  10. Organised Christian religion is definitely losing its hold here in the UK. In the 2021 Census, 56% of people in Britain answered ‘No religion’. Only 40% stated a religion, with 4% not answering. 6.5% of those stating a religion were Muslims.
    As an atheist, I see that as a great improvement. High time the mythology lost its appeal.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. An incredible amount of money has gone into church building over the centuries, and many of them have become tourist attractions as well as working churches or cathedrals. I really don’t condone tearing down a church or cathedral ‘just because’, and surely it could be used as a museum, or just a place to go and look at. The older ones, religious or not any longer, are also part of history. Something to consider.
    (Frankl y I would love to know what goes on in the Vatican. It always struck me as one of the darker, more spooky places in the world, with layers of intrigue. )

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Sadly, while the numbers taken in by religions like Christianity are still in decline, the influence of the established churches in matters of state is increasing. The pernicious, truth-bending propaganda of fundamentalist Christian organisations is increasingly controlling the narrative (witness the imposition of archaic abortion rules, or the president ending every speech or public comment with the phrase ‘god bless you!’) The wacko alt-truth of the Republican party has been exported to the Conservative party in the UK. And Islamists are effectively imposing de-facto blasphemy laws, so that no-one dare say or do anything the self-appointed Muslim community leaders claim is offensive. In the UK we’ve just had a public funded propaganda fest for the Church of England, with an unelected head of state swearing an oath of allegiance to the CofE’s fictional leader (i.e. god!)
    The churches may be empty, but we have the biggest fight on our hands of my lifetime, as we see our freedoms being taken away one by one.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I could not agree more! Buildings are just that … wood, nails, brick, mortar, but the PEOPLE that sit within their walls and take their beliefs into the public are the real danger.

      Nevertheless, for me, it’s still somewhat gratifying to know even the buildings are starting to lose their usefulness.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. All of the social services and aspects of churches and “religions” can be done by the secular communities or the government. But the YMCA will probably always be the ymCa. 🙂

    I am one of those. I tried. Grew up in a parish with a school that is now apartments and the parish has been combined into others, while more close their doors. Churches pop up in strip centers (non-denominational woo-woo), the local “worship” place seems to be growing.

    The Methodists are un-uniting over gay stuff. Many church-going hangers on are actually agnostics and atheists, but stay for the parties (sarcasm).

    To quote George Carlin (with whom I agree):

    “When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

    “But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!

    “But I want you to know something, this is sincere, I want you to know, when it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really, really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God, who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize, something is fucked up.”


    Liked by 2 people

  14. This is definitely good news. Should be no surprise that churches that preach how superior they are and that the other people who believe differently or are not religious, are going straight to hell. Or poo poo climate change and say god is in control, so no need to worry or do anything constructive. Or want to push illegal and many legal immigrants, of the wrong color, back to where they belong in crime and poverty ridden countries. Or think everything about sexuality, DNA, hormones and chromosomes are created by a god, so if you deviate to hell you go. Or pray to a god for every little thing rather than take responsibility and then justify things when they go wrong, that he works in mysterious ways or has his own plan that just might include death, torture, pain, misery, grief and loss.
    And we wonder why people are drifting from Christianity and , hopefully the other Abrahamic religions, as’s a no brainer.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Let us hope the trend continues unto extinction.

    Religion is the worst con ever foisted upon mankind. A huge money making scheme, resulting in so much war and death, scandal, spousal abuse, sexual abuse, rape, and down right murder (of course it was all justified, the dog is on our side!) All in the name of the imaginary friend.

    Much of that just because those people look different than we do, and my dog is better than yours. Much of it also, revealed in hushed whispers along the halls of religious power, and fortunately some of that eventually sees the occaisional courthouse. Not nearly enough though…

    Religion is a great place for monsters to hide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not only that, but scores of the individuals who claim that religion (Christianity) have all but abandoned its teachings in their efforts to satisfy their own bigoted view of life. Put a “cross” on the action and that makes if all A-OK.


  16. If I weren’t already a card carrying atheist, just knowing that, basenji, would have me backing away from any religion, anywhere. (shudders)
    Trouble is, while the ‘new age’ religions are vaguer than the organized ones, they do attract huge numbers of people–most (but not all) of the ministers have a hair curling agenda that their followers just love: the faith healers, a la Oral Roberts, or the dude who talks in tongues, or the fortune teller types…my favorite was always the guy who would state “God spoke to me, last night, and he told me that some of you are cheaters, and some of you are liars, and some of you are hypocrites and all of you are going to DIE a slooow and painful death…”

    And while the traditional churches are collapsing, the new agers are quietly moving into small towns and taking over unused buildings (we lost our Town Hall to one of them and one of our markets to another) , inconveniencing everyone– but no one seems all that passionate about joining. We now hold elections in the local highschool, since the Town Hall is off limits…

    Many of them espouse the old Jehovah Witness ruling, which says, if you belong, all of your family must belong too…and those that don’t, you won’t be allowed to contact for anything. The ruling is obvious, trying to rope in entire families, but the outcome is heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

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