Questionable Motives

May 20, 2010

Trouble in (before) paradise?

  • Of the 1,050 pastors we surveyed, every one of them had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.
  • 90% of pastors stated they are frequently fatigued, and worn out on a weekly and even daily basis (did not say burned out).
  • 89% of the pastors we surveyed also considered leaving the ministry at one time. 57% said they would leave if they had a better place to go—including secular work.
  • 81% of the pastors said there was no regular discipleship program or effective effort of mentoring their people or teaching them to deepen their Christian formation at their church (remember these are the Reformed and Evangelical—not the mainline pastors!). 
  • 77% of the pastors we surveyed felt they did not have a good marriage!
  • 75% of the pastors we surveyed felt they were unqualified and/or poorly trained by their seminaries to lead and manage the church or to counsel others. This left them disheartened in their ability to pastor.
  • 72% of the pastors we surveyed stated that they only studied the Bible when they were preparing for sermons or lessons. This left only 38% who read the Bible for devotions and personal study.
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
  • 38% of pastors said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process.
  • 30% said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner. (This and the previous statistic raises an interesting reflection on what Family Values look like to those in the ministry – tildeb.)
  • 26% of pastors said they regularly had personal devotions and felt they were adequately fed spirituality.
  • 23% of the pastors we surveyed said they felt happy and content on a regular basis with who they are in Christ, in their church, and in their home!
  • Of the pastors surveyed, they stated that a mean (average) of only 25% of their church’s membership attended a Bible Study or small group at least twice a month. The range was 11% to a max of 40%, a median (the center figure of the table) of 18% and a mode (most frequent number) of 20%. This means over 75% of the people who are at a “good” evangelical church do not go to a Bible Study or small group (that is not just a book or curriculum study, but where the Bible is opened and read, as well as studied). (I suspect these numbers are actually lower in most evangelical and Reformed churches because the pastors that come to conferences tend to be more interested in the teaching and care of their flock than those who usually do not attend.)

From the article Statistics on Pastors over at the Schaeffer Institute.

These stats line up nicely with Daniel Dennett’s latest work about preachers who are not believers (pdf here). And their numbers are growing . What is striking in this compilation of stats is that more than half would leave if they could. Three quarters are fighting depression and nine in ten can’t cope with the challenge of ministry. But why? If religious belief added some measurable quality of life and comfort as we have been led to believe, then these numbers should be strikingly different by those who champion it. But as I have long suspected, the show-and-tell of religion are quite different: we see the show of happy and well-adjusted people who pretend religious belief is a marvelous way to live – even a necessary element to living morally well – but underneath that facade we find a very different story.

April 2, 2010

Why is Gordon Brown such a twit?

I have read the following bit from the Guardian several times and cannot for the life of me figure out how someone who presumably can read and is capable of rational thought can mean what this says unless one is complete twit:

Asked if religious faith is essentially “a private, personal pursuit” or has a role in the wider community, he says: “Our common realm is not and cannot be stripped of values – I absolutely reject the idea that religion should somehow be tolerated but not encouraged in public life. Our equality bill is specifically designed to protect religion and belief on exactly the same terms as race or gender or sexuality.

“I welcome the role that people of faith play in building Britain’s future – and the Catholic communion in particular is to be congratulated for so often being the conscience of our country, for helping ‘the least of these’ even when bearing witness to the truth is hard or unpopular.”

Brown makes nothing but errors in this piece of broken reasoning. Although certain religions uphold certain values some of the time, nowhere can it be shown that values derive from religious belief. Quite the opposite, in fact. Brown assumes that by making religious belief a private affair, this will “strip” the common realm of values. Why he think so may be evidence for a large brain tumor or early onset of some delusional psychosis. Rejecting the notion of  the state encouraging a particular kind of delusional thinking would be sound public policy, but Brown reject this absolutely. Why? If not brain damage, then surely this reveals the depth of his inability to think clearly. Protecting religious belief from discrimination like gender or race reveals a startling misunderstanding of why it is important that we protect equality of human rights. Religious belief, in stark contrast, can be changed by making a simple choice, say from catholicism to cabbage worship, whereas changing one’s race or gender or innate sexual preference is slightly different. Okay, it’s vastly different, but I feel a strong need to be sarcastic in the face of such stupidity, knowing that reasoning is the wrong tool to criticize Brown’s purposefully obtuse and proudly ignorant opinion.

And then we come to the second paragraph: that he welcomes religious belief in general and catholicism in particular to help build Britain’s future. Into what? A British Taliban state? A safe haven for pedophiles? Just how does religious belief help build anything when beliefs is based on either no concern for knowledge whatsoever, often a blatant disregard for what is true, and often is the main engine driving anti-intellectualism? And in case Brown hasn’t noticed, the catholic church in particular is undergoing a timely exposure to a massive global sex abuse scandal of “the least of these” adherents we call children. But rather than see what catholicism looks like in practice, Gordon “I’ve got my head stuck so far up my ass I can see my lips moving” Brown thinks this church under its current organization of doing whatever it can to hide what’s true between many robed clergy and innocent children is actually a champion of truth! One must be a twit of astounding proportion to actually believe what Brown says he believes. And such twits are a clear and present danger to building anything other than a delusion.

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