Anglican Religious Survival

Anglican Religious Survival

Question: Is religion alive and well or struggling to survive in Canada?

Rev. KEVIN FLYNN is an Anglican priest and director of the Anglican studies program at Saint Paul University.

There doesn’t seem much doubt that religion as we have known it is having a tough time in Canada. Overall numbers of active participants are down. The cost to maintain some of our inherited buildings and structures are rising.

Times are tough. The decline is nothing new. The complex cultural forces that contribute to this reality have been in play for a very long time. Their effect is becoming more and more evident. It is no longer sufficient for people to belong to a religious group simply because of family or other social pressure.

All institutions, including the churches, are viewed with increasing suspicion. Our grandparents or great-grandparents were more likely to accept institutional authority than we are today. The old forms, once accepted as part of the sacred canopy of an entire society’s meaning, no longer convey adequately the spiritual meaning and experience they originally bore.

Religion will not, however, disappear. It is clearly thriving in many places in the world, its energies being directed to both good and ill. As a cultural phenomenon, religion is as human and as elemental as making music or designing architecture. It will always appear in some form.

Though religion so defined may be declining, interest in and thirst for spiritual experience is alive and well. People deeply desire a direct, intuitive encounter with the divine. This presents Christians in our culture with a huge challenge and opportunity. We are having to learn what is the core of the good news — God’s reconciling liberation in Christ — and to let go of baggage accumulated over time that no longer helps convey that message.

Religious Opinion

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