People just don’t realize it yet. You can see it, however, chipping it away at probably two religions at once more so than the rest: Scientology and Mormonism. That’s because the creator of each NEVER envisioned the Internet. They created the religions with “need for secrecy” that simply cannot be maintained with the Internet. There are even videos INSIDE OF AN LDS TEMPLE DURING MAJOR SACRAMENTS on YouTube! And the amount written on Scientology, specifically by Rolling Stone? Because of them, everybody knows what a Thetan now is and who Xenu is.
Another thing the Internet does is answer questions. It’s important to know if your sources are credible, but when people from either are going online, if they’re having doubts (and even though both are instructed not to read anything critical of their religion) and they find so many stories of people who once felt just like them who have now left the religion, and that’s bound to lose some adherents. In addition to that, people can network and form communities for people wanting to transition out. There are even those organizations for the Amish! The Amish understand there is a need for a transitional period out of their religion. They’re a good microcosm of what both LDS and Scientologists fear–losing contact with your loved ones. While the LDS I know would never shun their children to the degree Amish people do, they still lose the support of people they have loved their whole lives. In the case of Scientology, a person who does not adhere is non-theta. Basically? Even though Scientologists can still technically interact with non-thetas (I hope I’m getting that term right) they cannot form intimate attachments with them. So if a child leaves a Scientologist family, they’re basically cut off. In either case, they can form new attachments to people they meet through the Internet, and that can help them bridge between worlds.
So you’re not a Scientologist or a Mormon? Think you’re safe? Not so fast.
I am an atheist, but for the average balanced person, I have no problem with them having religion. You know, the really cool, sweet Christian people that also know that it’s not okay to hate and it’s not okay to discriminate. They live in the true spirit of Christ. If people are balanced, nice and kind, we’re all good. Muslims. Jews. Their religion does not dominate them to the extent that they hate the other. What I can’t stomach are the extremists (and that goes for atheists, too. It’s a process. We’re evolving out of the God Gene. But, like, tongue-rolling, some people have it, and some don’t. Or maybe a lot of very good people are just afraid. If that’s what it takes for them to keep going, I wouldn’t want to take that away from them. But here’s the thing…I think there are a lot more atheists out there than scientists will EVER get people to admit. Even to say it, if you were raised in a religious home, it’s not a happy thing. It’s more of an admission. Something to internalize. Because many of us, we’ve disappointed parents we otherwise love. We have caused them stress because they just want to see us in Heaven. But it is the truth, and if you read people’s silent truths? You’ll see a whole lot more than polls would show. Over the Internet, they can admit it. Then there’s validation, then finally the courage to “come out.”
Parents find support and encouragement from other parents that are raising their kids without religion. They talk about how to fend off well-meaning but spiritually and philosophically overbearing grandparents? One by one, people move along their path of being honest.
But what I really wish? That people in your life would just stop always talking about their beliefs. It’s drawing lines. We’d support each other so much better if we didn’t know each other quite so well.