LGBTQ

Why Are Churches Losing Attendance?
Why are churches are losing attendance?

Why are churches are losing attendance?

Pick up any Christian magazine or read one online, and you’ll find many theories about why churches are losing attendance. Many people believe that the church is no longer relevant. Some think that adults are choosing to ignore God. There are others who see the church as too hierarchal. In Canada, about 25 percent of adults identify as having no religious affiliation. Many studies have been done about the actual number of people who stop attending church, but very few look at the reasons why. The Church of Scotland, which is Scotland’s national church, commissioned a study about the lack of attendance. The findings were surprising.

One of the key beliefs in failing congregations is that the members lose faith in God and this is why they stop attending. Another issue that has been thought to ravage church membership is disagreements. Women still do not find support in leadership in many churches. The LGBTQ community is also disenchanted with the church, which is another reason that people stop attending. However, Dr. Steve Aisthorpe, the researcher who carried out the study for the Church of Scotland, found something interesting.

Are People Leaving Church or God?

Dr. Aisthorpe discovered that about 66 percent, or two-thirds, of those who left the church now practice and worship in different ways. Many still gather with like-minded individuals to discuss theological issues and pray together. They choose different venues, such as homes or parks, or even do activities together where they can share their faith and address questions they have about their convictions. Aisthorpe also found that this phenomenon was not different in rural and urban churches.

This suggests that it is the organization of the church that keeps people away. More people are turning away from large congregations for a more personalized worship ritual. Arguments and division may turn some people away from church, but this doesn’t indicate that they stop believing in God. A spokesman for the National Secular Society states that “Churches are out of step, and the people in the pews are voting with their feet.”

The Health of the Church and Religious Community

Although Dr. Aisthorpe carried out the majority of his research in Scotland, he did not only look at his own country to get information. He looked at related research from the Western world. He found changes in the attendance of Sunday morning worship, but he doesn’t believe that should be the only measure of the health of the Christian community and faith. His research suggests that churches are in a transitional period, rather than a decline.

What happens now with the church, in whatever denomination, is up to the individual community. Pastors, priests, and religious leaders need to find what works for their own congregation. The Christian community is not the only religion that is having a hard time filling their seats. Many Jewish synagogues are finding it difficult to maintain membership rolls. In Japan, religious organizations are facing the crisis of having to close Buddhist monasteries because the smaller communities cannot afford to support the monks. The rural areas do not have the number of people they once had, and those areas with more of a population are finding that nationals are not using the services of the temples.

Another key element that Dr. Aisthorpe’s research demonstrates is that the church leaders have to stop assuming and stereotyping those who do not attend church. The reasons that keep people away may have nothing to do with their actual faith in God. It’s easy to point to other problems when the congregation fails. Instead of pointing fingers, churches need to become more relevant and change their delivery system. This is how the world works. Most faiths are buried deep in rituals and traditions that are difficult to change, but as culture changes, so must religion.

Justin Trudeau Supports the Rights of All
Equal Rights for All

Equal Rights for All

Justin Trudeau is no stranger to being the first. He is the first child of a previous prime minister to hold the same post. He is also the first boy to be born to a prime minister in office. The first child born to a sitting prime minister was a girl. Trudeau became the first PM in the 21st century to attend a White House State Dinner with the first black U.S. president. It should come as no surprise that he is attending the Toronto Gay Pride Parade in July.

The Announcement Came Via Twitter

On Monday, February 22, @PrideToronto announced:

We’re delighted to announce that @JustinTrudeau will be the first Prime Minister in history to attend #PrideTO!

@JustinTrudeau tweeted back:

Very much look forward to being there again, this time as PM. #PrideTO

One follower mentioned that Trudeau always attends this parade, so it’s not really a big deal. We would beg to differ. He’s not only attending the parade as an individual, but as the Prime Minister of Canada. He’s probably the first world leader to attend a gay parade while in office. Trudeau has made no secret of the fact that he is Roman Catholic, and as such, he is in contention with the leadership of the Catholic Church when it comes to the support of gay marriages.

Participate in the Gay Pride Parade

The parade doesn’t actually happen until Sunday, July 3. Now is the time to register a business or organization as a participant in the parade. Small to large companies can be part of this extraordinary event. The Toronto Gay Pride Parade is in its 35th year. The parade celebrates the diversity of life while respecting the differences between people.

Pride Toronto, the hosting organization, wants to create an inclusive community where all are celebrated. The festival includes many services that help create a barrier-free environment. Some of what they provide includes:

  • Free wheelchairs and walkers lent to those in need
  • ASL interpretation
  • Audio descriptions of the parade
  • Braille maps and audio guides for the festival
  • Mobility assistants
  • Accessibility services with washrooms that are easily usable for those in a wheelchair

In addition to accessibility services, Toronto Pride strives to be sustainable by providing water and waste stations that protect natural resources. There is also a section for bike valet parking, and public transit gets involved to alleviate the transportation problems and reduce air pollution.

Trudeau Offers Support

During the parade, Trudeau will march with other government officials, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. The festival is actually open the entire weekend, beginning on July 1. There will be plenty of activities that celebrate the diversity of all people. Make plans to attend to watch history being made and support the rights of the LGBT community.

The LGBT community certainly is gaining ground when it comes to civil rights, but they are still marginalized when it comes to certain topics, like immigration, trans rights, and gay men who wish to donate blood. In schools, LGBT children are bullied and harassed by other students, and sometimes, even by their teachers.

Trudeau has shown a commitment to the issues facing the LGBTQ community. He is taking a stand for civil rights and diversity when he chooses to attend the Toronto Gay Pride Parade. Because of his position as a leader in Canada, this brings national attention to the celebration of civil rights for all. A gay pride parade isn’t only for people who are LGBTQ. It’s for everyone who wants to make sure that people are respected and honored, no matter what their lifestyle is. Trudeau should be commended for taking part in the Toronto Gay Pride Parade.

New Guidelines in Alberta for the LGBTQ Community Moving Forward

ThinkstockPhotos-470428983Alberta has been working toward making its schools safer for all students, especially for students in the LGBTQ community. When you consider that more than two-thirds of the LGBTQ students don’t feel safe in the schools, it’s about time that the government implemented guidelines that give all kids respect, no matter where they go to school. Bill 10: An Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights to Protect our Children was passed in March 2015 to protect all students, but mostly the LGBTQ community.

Parents Have Questions

The Calgary Sexual Health Centre (CSHC) launched a website to help parents, students, and educators get answers to legitimate questions. It’s located at www.UnderstandingTheGuidelines.ca. This resource helps dispel myths and misconceptions about LGBTQ students. One of the most common misconceptions seems to be that boys will just decide that they want to be a girl to use the girls’ facility. Being a transgendered student goes far deeper than simply using the facilities.

The guidelines are not to give students a pass to behave disrespectfully but are to help all students feel safe and supported while they are at school. It’s more than just providing safe access to facilities; it’s about keeping records that maintain a student’s privacy. Using the correct terminology when referring to a person’s gender identity is another important aspect that cannot be overlooked.

Opponents to the Bill

The publicly funded Catholic schools have maintained that they should not have to comply with the guidelines, with Calgary Catholic Bishop Fred Henry being the most prominent opponent. However, a 2015 survey found that Catholics are very supportive of the policy. There was concern that the Alberta legislature would not pass the bill that protected the rights of all children, but in the end, only two MLAs who are members of the PC party opposed it. The majority supported the bill, but that doesn’t indicate that things will change overnight for these students.

Show Your Support for Equal Rights

Even though the bill passed last year, in March 2015, it’s important to let your MLA know that you support Bill 10. The CSHC website offers a sample letter that you can send to your MLA to let that person understand that the community stands behind this decision. You can also let the school board and staff know that you support the new guidelines. On the CSHC site, there’s a link to find your school board contact.

Parents should also talk to their kids. Use the resources on Understanding the Guidelines from the CSHC site to open a dialogue. Educating yourself is the first step to creating kids who are welcoming and inclusive. You don’t need to have family members who are part of the LGBTQ community to be open and talk. As a parent leader, when you see discrimination happening in the school community, you should step up and stop it.

Students can also take a stand against the discrimination in the LGBTQ community. First, students should not use derogatory language that hurts someone. Help your student report behavior that he or she sees to the proper authorities. Sadly, bullying not only happens during the day while kids are in school, it’s moved to social media. It might be unreasonable for schools to monitor Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but posts can certainly be reported to the platform being used. Students should also understand that it’s okay to block bullies and unfriend other students because of their actions.

Alberta schools are working hard to make schools a safer place, but change will only happen within each individual. Use the information available to help understand why it’s so important for each child to have respect at school. Share this with your family to make a difference within your own circle. Together, we can change the attitudes around us.